Friday, April 23, 2010
Wright second to none
By Adam Rubin
David Wright’s sixth-inning double off Chicago Cubs left-hander Tom Gorzelanny drove in Jose Reyes with the first run in the Mets’ 5-2 victory Thursday. It also gave Wright 225 career doubles, pulling the third baseman even with Ed Kranepool for the franchise record.
Kranepool had a pinch-hit double in his final major league game, on Sept. 30, 1979 against St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Bob Forsch. It took Kranepool 1,853 games to get to that doubles total. Wright achieved it in 863 games.
Kranepool makes appearances at Mets games as frequently as any player from that era -- he attended Wednesday’s alumni festivities at Citi Field -- although Wright said their interactions have been limited.
“But every time I’ve talked to him, he’s always had words of encouragement for me and really tried to help me out as much as he could,” Wright said. “Having those former guys around, whether it’s Ed or HoJo or anybody else, you can kind of use that to your advantage.”
Kranepool does have one accomplishment Wright can never duplicate. The product of James Monroe High School in the Bronx debuted in the majors seven weeks before his 18th birthday.
“Seventeen?” Wright asked. “… No, I can’t even imagine playing in the big leagues at 17. It’s a pretty special career.”
Speaking of 17, Wright struck out three times Thursday. He has now struck out in a career-high nine straight games -- and 17 times in total during that stretch.
ACE HIGH: Johan Santana’s scoreless streak ended at 15 innings, but the left-hander improved to 2-1 and shaved his ERA to 2.59 by limiting the Cubs to one run on eight hits while striking out five and walking none in 6 1/3 innings. Santana, who had blanked the St. Louis Cardinals for seven innings Saturday in what became a 20-inning victory for the Mets, tossed 103 pitches against Chicago.
“I felt pretty good,” Santana said. “I was able to throw my changeup tonight, hit the spots and then get some of those guys out. It was a battle. I knew coming into this game we had a pretty good chance to win this series. Everything worked out pretty good.”
BIG BLUE MYSTERY: Wright is an ardent New York Giants supporter, fantasy football aficionado and Virginia Tech football fan, but the third baseman couldn’t offer much insight about first-round pick Jason Pierre-Paul, a defensive end from South Florida.
“I don’t know too much about him,” Wright confessed. “But I like it.”
SCREENED: The Mets lead swelled to 4-0 by the end of the sixth inning on a two-out fielding error by second baseman Mike Fontenot on Angel Pagan’s routine grounder, which allowed Jeff Francoeur and Ike Davis to score.
Rod Barajas, running from first to second on the play, maintained he likely contributed to Fontenot’s flub by running in front of the second baseman -- although, the slow-footed Barajas confessed, his timing was coincidental.
“When he hit the ball, I wasn’t thinking about trying to get in the way,” Barajas said. “But it hit the plate and it bounced up so high that when I looked up to see where it was at, I lost it in the lights. I didn’t know where it was at, so I kind of hesitated for a second. I said, ‘OK, just run.’ So I started running. I think it definitely played a factor. When you’ve got somebody as big as me right in front of you right before the ball gets there, you’re going to lose track of the ball.”
CITI LIKES IKE: Davis’ first major league start against a left-handed pitcher went well. The rookie went 3-for-4, with two singles off southpaw Tom Gorzelanny and an eighth-inning double against right-hander Justin Berg.
Davis is 6-for-15 (.400) since Monday’s promotion, with four of those hits coming against left-handers.
Davis’ six total hits are one shy of the best four-game start by a Met making his major league debut, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information Department. Three rookies had seven hits in their opening four games: Mike Jacobs (2005), Keith Miller (1987) and Rod Gaspar (1969).
“In my career I’ve hit lefties decently,” Davis said. “I haven’t hit like .400 against them or anything, but I’m going to get my knocks off lefties. I mean, they’re going to strike me out, but I’m going to get them a couple of times. I’m going to battle up there. Against lefties, for me, it’s a battle.”
Manager Jerry Manuel suggested Gorzelanny’s decision to pitch to the righty-hitting Francoeur in the sixth with two out, first base open and the lefty-hitting Davis on deck was a sign of respect for the rookie.
Of course, Francoeur noted, the ex-Brave had been in a pronounced slump, which must have contributed, too.
“Well, the way he had been hitting, and when you’re 0-for-24, I probably would have done the same thing if I was (Cubs manager) Lou (Piniella),” Francoeur said. “If it was last week and I was hitting the way I was, they probably would have walked me at that point.”
SNAPPED: Francoeur’s career-high hitting drought did end at 0-for-24, even if he hardly crushed an RBI single through the right side of the infield.
“To get that, it’ll relax me now,” Francoeur said. “… I’ll take what I can get. The fact that I waited on the ball and went the other way, that was my goal all day hitting in the cage.”
SERIOUS WIN: The Mets beat the Cubs three of four games, after going 1-2 in each of the season’s first four series. The Mets had last lost their first four series in 1997, when they went 1-2 at San Diego, 1-2 at San Francisco, 1-2 at Los Angeles and 0-3 versus San Francisco.
Despite a 7-9 record and occupying last place in the National League East, the Mets only trail the first-place Philadelphia Phillies by 3½ games.
“It’s big for us confidence-wise and record-wise to be able to take three out of four from this team,” Wright said. “I think we knew we had a good chance with Johan on the mound.”
ROOKIE INITIATION: Count Francisco Rodriguez among the players who thought Jenrry Mejia probably deserved a strike call on a belt-high, full-count offering to Geovany Soto in the eighth. Plate umpire Mark Carlson ruled the pitch a ball, loading the bases and prompting Manuel to summon K-Rod for a five-out save.
Mejia diplomatically said it’s just part of being a young player.
K-Rod, after reviewing the video, opined: “He got a little squeezed out there.”