Chris Carter, nicknamed “The Animal,” had a chance to bowl over a catcher Thursday -- and passed. Or, more precisely, he missed.
Carter instead was tamely thrown out at the plate to end the top of the first inning while trying to score from second base on Jesus Feliciano’s single.
New York Mets
“Gosh, dang, he moved out of the way at the last second,” Carter said about Cleveland Indians rookie catcher Carlos Santana. “I mean, it’s something you don’t practice. I think if I would have had more practice, I could have got him. I wanted to get him so bad, especially when I saw him jump up.”
Two at-bats later, Carter -- who served as designated hitter in the five games against right-handed pitchers in Baltimore and Cleveland -- fouled a ball off his left knee. He remained in the game and singled in that fifth-inning at-bat.
Carter said he couldn’t put any weight on the knee afterward and indicated the injury hurt, but he insisted there was no way he would not be in the lineup Friday at Yankee Stadium as DH.
“I fouled it right off the kneecap,” Carter said. “Even if it’s a little swollen, we’re going to wrap it up and get the swelling out.”
WRIGHT STUFF: David Wright’s fielder’s choice groundout in the fourth scored Feliciano and gave the third baseman an RBI in his career-high seventh straight game. Wright, who entered Thursday as the National League’s leader in runs driven in, now has the longest RBI streak by a Met since Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado each drove in runs in eight straight games in June 2006.
That didn’t impress Indians manager Manny Acta enough to pitch to Angel Pagan in that fourth inning. With two runners in scoring position, one out and first base open, Acta walked Pagan to bring up Wright and have a potential double-play grounder in order. Cleveland got the grounder from Wright, but not the twin killing.
Ike Davis followed Wright’s at-bat with an RBI single, which gave the Mets a 5-2 lead.
CATCH 2 AND 2: It doesn’t matter who attempts to catch knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. After Rod Barajas had two passed balls catching Dickey in Baltimore, manager Jerry Manuel switched to Henry Blanco for this turn catching the knuckleballer. Blanco also had two passed balls -- his first passed balls of the season..
GRASS AIN’T GREENER: Sure Cliff Lee or Roy Oswalt would be a welcome upgrade to any rotation, but the Mets’ trip to American League has proven this much so far: The Mets don’t need to trade for just anyone to plug into the rotation. The Mets pounded Kevin Millwood in Baltimore (eight runs in 5 1/3 innings) and comfortably handled Jake Westbrook on Thursday as well (five runs in seven innings).
Millwood is 0-8 with a 5.16 ERA. Westbrook is 4-4 with a 4.76 ERA.
Oh, and they make $12 million and $11 million, respectively, this season.
MIA: Fernando Nieve warmed in the fifth after Dickey allowed a pair of hits to open the half-inning, but Nieve never appeared in the game. Nieve last worked June 10. Once Dickey completed six innings, Pedro Feliciano worked the seventh. Elmer Dessens then worked a 1-2-3 eighth.
Dessens allowed two runs (one earned) in his season debut with the Mets on May 21 against the Yankees. He since has made eight straight scoreless appearances spanning nine innings -- allowing three hits and two walks while striking out four.
As for the non-use of Nieve, Manuel said: “We’ve got a number of guys down there that haven’t pitched a whole lot lately. That was early a big concern -- I’m overusing the bullpen. ‘Oh my god, Jerry, running them guys out there every day. Now they’re on pace for 300 games.’ Now everybody’s like, ‘When are they going to pitch again?’”
SECONDS: The Mets head into the second Subway Series on a seven-game winning streak, but they remain a half-game out of first place in the National League East, thanks to Atlanta winning its rubber game against the Tampa Bay Rays, powered by Jason Heyward’s 11th homer and Troy Glaus’ two RBIs in a 3-1 win.
New York Mets
ADVENTURES WITH K-ROD: Never dull, closer Francisco Rodriguez surrendered a one-out single to Shin-Soo Choo in the ninth inning, but ultimately completed his 15th save in 18 chances with a scoreless ninth.
In nine June appearances, K-Rod has allowed a baserunner in all but one relief outing.
“You’ve to remember, I saw Frankie in Anaheim for a while when I was in Texas, so I kind of know the routine,” Dickey said. “I just trust that he’s going to be Frankie. And he is. You always kind of hold your breath from time to time, but it worked out.”
YOUNG GUNS: Mike Pelfrey and Phil Hughes, both 9-1, again match up Saturday. Hughes’ lone 2010 loss came at the hands of the Mets on May 22. Hughes allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings, while Pelfrey limited the Yankees to one run in six innings. The Mets won, 5-3.
“The way I look at it, you like going up against good guys,” Pelfrey said. “Showing up to the ballpark, you know for us to win I have to be on top of my game, because he’s going to be on top of his game. I think that brings the best out of you. The fans are going to be into it. It’s going to be sold out. It’s a great atmosphere and should be fun to be a part of.”
BY THE NUMBERS: Here’s a recap from ESPN’s Stats & Information:
Jose Reyes finished with three-fourths of the cycle for the 12th time in his career. Unlike most players, it's been the home run -- not the triple-- that he misses most often. Reyes has now missed the cycle by the homer six times, and just five by the triple.
Since May 22, Reyes is batting .371 with 13 multi-hit games out of 23. That just happens to coincide with a stretch where the Mets are 18-5 and have pulled to within a half-game of first place.
Although his average against all pitches has increased, Reyes is making much better contact against offspeed stuff, more than doubling his average in the past few weeks. He's chasing fewer bad balls out of the strike zone, and is putting more pitches in play -- missing on only 10 percent of his swings recently. On Thursday, he didn't whiff a single time against the 15 pitches he faced.
All three hits on Thursday came on pitches away, another area where Reyes has improved considerably over the past few weeks.