Tim Byrdak struck out Brian McCann and Diory Hernandez to strand two inherited runners in the seventh and preserve a two-run lead, Jon Niese outpitched Jair Jurrjens, the majors' ERA leader, and Jose Reyes continued to run wild despite an oversaturated infield as the Mets beat the Braves, 4-3, on Tuesday night. The Mets moved into third place in the NL East, their best position in the standings since April 10. They will have a chance to reach .500 for the first time since May 20 when Dillon Gee attempts to remain unbeaten Wednesday night.
Wednesday's news reports:
• The Times reports the Mets complained to MLB about the condition of the wet infield and the Daily News quoted an anonymous player saying "that was definitely done on purpose," but Reyes did not mind. (The Mets complained to MLB the last time they were here about the Braves cramming a rainout makeup into the same series, after the Mets had just had a doubleheader two days earlier.) Anyway, Reyes had three hits, scored twice, had two steals and drove in the Mets' fourth run. The infield was very wet, but Reyes was not sure Atlanta purposely did it to try to slow him down. Reyes twice had difficulty running on the basepaths, then again had trouble fielding a grounder in the seventh. He lost his footing on the throw and spiked the baseball into the ground.
Afterward, Willie Harris said "hell yeah, I vote yes twice" when asked if Reyes merited Carl Crawford money. Said Harris: “I told him the other day, ‘Man, if I wasn’t playing baseball, I’d buy a ticket to come watch you play.' He’s doing that good. He’s an exciting player to watch. He’s fun in the clubhouse. He doesn’t have any flaws, man. He’s a great guy. Some of the superstars are not really good people, but he’s an awesome person. You can talk to him about anything.”
• Jason Bay sat again Tuesday, as he did Thursday in Milwaukee and Friday in Pittsburgh. Harris, starting in left field, continued his career success against Jurrjens, going 1-for-2 with two walks against the Atlanta starting pitcher.
The Star-Ledger's Andy McCullough illustrates Bay's struggles, writing:
His groundball rate is a career-high 43.1 percent, according to FanGraphs.com. His line-drive ratio has descended to a career-low 14.7 percent. When he puts the ball in play, scant damage results. His last extra-base hit occurred on May 19. His isolated power percentage (which deducts batting average from slugging percentage to ascertain “true power”) is .067, nearly 160 points below his career-average. His lack of solid contact coincides with a lack of discipline. He swings at 26.5 percent of pitches outside the strike zone, 6 percent higher than his career-average.
• Justin Turner sat Tuesday, and is expected to do so again Wednesday, because of inflammation at the base of his right thumb. That was the result of getting jammed in New York two weeks ago by Pirates left-hander Paul Maholm, he suspected. Terry Collins hopes to reinsert Turner into the lineup Thursday, when the Mets face Braves southpaw Mike Minor. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.
• Newsday columnist Ken Davidoff suggests the Mets should be neither buyers nor sellers if this level of play continues. One byproduct: buying time to see if public sentiment changes in terms of how much Reyes merits in terms of a long-term contract. Writes Davidoff:
By letting the season play out with their roster intact, the Mets would buy time on the Reyes referendum. To a degree, it would be a no-lose proposition. 1) If Reyes continued to dominate and the Mets crept over .500 and beyond, then the Mets would give their fans a meaningful September (or at least, the first couple of weeks of September). 2) If Reyes fizzled, then the most fickle fans - and we know that's a sizeable contingent - would say, "Oh, right, we forgot! We hate Reyes! He's not clutch! He always stinks in September!"
• Brian Costa of Wall Street Journal profiles Gee, who signed for only $20,000 as a 21st round pick out of Texas-Arlington. Gee's fastball has averaged only 89.5 mph, and part of his success is remaining unflappable. Costa writes the 7-0 Gee has been somewhat fortunate:
Luck is part of it. Only 24.4% of batted balls against him have fallen in for hits this year, the fourth-lowest rate among N.L. pitchers with at least 60 innings pitched. But there are other factors that are more sustainable. For one thing, Gee, a 25-year-old right-hander, has a deep enough repertoire to keep hitters guessing. He throws mostly fastballs, changeups and curveballs. And he recently learned how to throw a cutter, which has replaced his slider as his fourth pitch.
• Actress Glenn Close will sing the national anthem Saturday at Citi Field while trying to raise awareness of mental health issues, according to the Daily News.
BIRTHDAYS: Former speedy outfielder Brett Butler turns 54. Butler hit .311 with 21 steals for the Mets in 1995. ... Ex-first baseman Tony Clark, one of the nicest and most accessible Mets over the last decade, turns 39. -Mark Simon