Right-hander Fernando Nieve is set for Saturday’s start against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Nieve pitched a scoreless ninth inning, as scripted by Jerry Manuel, in Wednesday’s 5-0 win against the Philadelphia Phillies as the equivalent of what a regular starting pitcher throws in a bullpen side session between starts.
Nieve is 1-2 with a 5.09 ERA. He has 27 relief appearances for the Mets this season, which is tied with Pedro Feliciano for the major league lead. He hopes to throw between 70 and 80 pitches against the Brewers.
CITI, NOT CITIZENS BANK: Right fielder Jeff Francoeur got a kick out of Philadelphia left fielder Ben Francisco crushing a double high off the left-center wall with two out in the second inning. Francisco then was stranded when Hisanori Takahashi struck out Wilson Valdez. Francisco’s shot would have comfortably left the Phillies’ home ballpark.
“It was nice to see it stay in the park,” Francoeur said. “Welcome to our field.”
WRIGHT STUFF: David Wright passed Darryl Strawberry for seventh on the franchise’s all-time hit list with a sixth-inning double that gave him 1,026 career hits. Next up: Mike Piazza with 1,028.
FLEET FOOTED: Despite a painful bone bruise beneath his left foot that leaves him limping around the clubhouse, Luis Castillo had two steals Wednesday. He did not play the final three innings, but Manuel said Castillo was not forced from the game because of the injury. Instead, Manuel indicated, the five-run lead and Alex Cora having entered the game as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the sixth afforded the manager the opportunity to sneak a few innings off for Castillo.
SEEKING REDEMPTION: Mike Pelfrey’s last start against the Phillies will be the last thing on his mind when he takes the mound Thursday night opposite left-hander Cole Hamels, according to ESPNNewYork.com correspondent Ian Begley. Pelfrey (6-1, 2.86 ERA) suffered his only loss this season the last time he faced Philadelphia. He allowed six runs on eight hits in four innings as the Mets fell, 10-0, on May 1. Pelfrey had an MRI after experiencing shoulder tightness after that start. Pelfrey told Begley he still feels some pain in the shoulder, but it hasn’t affected him on the mound.
Pelfrey has won his last two starts -- May 17 in Atlanta and Saturday at home against the Yankees -- and will be looking to improve on his 5.43 career ERA in 10 starts against the Phillies. He should benefit from the pitcher-friendly confines of Citi Field. The right-hander is 4-0 with a 2.43 ERA in six games at home this season.
“I need to go out there and I need to execute pitches and change speeds,” Pelfrey said. “Obviously that didn’t happen last time.”
Ryan Howard is hitting .440 (11-for-25) with one homer and two strikeouts against Pelfrey and Chase Utley is hitting .320 (8-for-25) with four homers and two strikeouts against the former first-round pick.
ODDS & ENDS: Takahashi became the first Mets pitcher since Grover Powell in 1963 to allow no runs in either of his first two major league starts. ... The Mets produced consecutive shutouts for the second time this season. They also blanked the Atlanta Braves in a rain-shortened game April 25, then the Los Angeles Dodgers two days later. … The Mets are the first team to beat each of the postseason’s World Series participants during a four-game winning streak since interleague play began in 1997, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. … Ex-Met Nelson Figueroa tossed a scoreless eighth inning for the Phillies. … The Mets have a major league-best 18 home wins, tied with the Texas Rangers and Oakland A’s.