05/28/10 9:45 PM ET
Mets' sweep of Phillies one for record books
By JR Radcliffe / Special to MLB.com
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the occasion marked the third time in league history (since 1876) that a team swept a series of three or more games from a first-place team without allowing any runs. The Baltimore Orioles last accomplished the feat in sweeping the Boston Red Sox in 1974.
Although it marked only the second occasion in which the Mets had swept a series with three shutouts, the Mets have now pitched three consecutive shutouts seven times total, most recently from April 15-18, 1988, with two wins over Montreal and a follow-up shutout against St. Louis.
The Mets have thrown four straight shutouts only once in franchise history, running from Sept. 24-28, 1969. New York has seven shutouts this season, good for second in the National League, after recording eight all of last year.
Entering Friday night's game in Milwaukee, the Mets had compiled 27 consecutive scoreless innings and were chasing the 28-inning stretch recorded in 2004 and a 31-inning span in 1990.
Good defense coincides with success
MILWAUKEE -- Pitching and defense have always gone hand in hand, so it should come as no surprise that behind the Mets' recent run of pitching dominance has been sturdy defense as well.
Since David Wright's throwing error allowed Atlanta to score the game-winning run on May 18, the Mets have played errorless baseball in seven of eight games, coinciding nicely with the Mets' streak of games without allowing a home run. New York's five-game errorless streak is the longest of the season, two games shy of last year's longest run.
"I remember back when Jim Leyland was at Pittsburgh, they had little T-shirts that said 'Throw Strikes, Pitch Fast' or something like that," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "They were a very good defensive team with [Jose] Lind and Jay Bell ... Jeff King. They just said, 'Pitch fast and throw strikes,' and that's what they did. They played very good defense for a long time.
"I think over the years, baseball has gotten away from that. But a lot of guys you notice who have success, their games are uptempo. We have a few guys that can do that."
One of them is knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who threw the first of the three consecutive shutouts against the Phillies. In an article on baseball blog The Hardball Times in 2008, Dickey -- then with Seattle -- was ranked sixth in Major League Baseball for shortest amount of time taken between pitches.
"Because of the tempo, it really keeps guys in line, ready to make plays," Manuel said. "Every pitch has the potential to be hit to you. I think that's part of the ingredients that goes along with shutouts and things like that."
Barajas back in lineup; Cora starts vs. lefty
MILWAUKEE -- Rod Barajas returned to the starting lineup Friday, two days after taking a wild pitch off his left wrist.
The catcher has a team-high 10 home runs and sits second with 27 RBIs.
"He just was sore," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "You get hit, you get sore, nothing else too damaging, I think."
Alex Cora opened the team's three-game series in Milwaukee as the starter at second base, with Manuel using the opener as an opportunity to rest Luis Castillo.
"They have two lefties in this series, and I thought if I was going to give Alex a day to play, I would give him today, and hopefully Luis can play the night game and day game on Saturday and Sunday," Manuel said. "At least it gives him a little break today, [he can] rest the foot a little bit and be ready the next two days."
Castillo has been nursing pain in his left foot for several weeks.
Jonathon Niese reported to the Mets' Advanced Class A affiliate in Port St. Lucie, Fla., with the intent of throwing a bullpen session Saturday. The left-handed pitcher is working his way back from a strained hamstring. A Mets spokesman said the team would consider his next move afterward. ... The Mets entered Friday's game having successfully stolen 20 bases in their last 22 attempts. ... Ryota Igarashi turned 31 on Friday.
JR Radcliffe is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.