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Saturday, April 24, 2010
Blanco quite a catch

By Adam Rubin

No. 1 catcher Rod Barajas got a kick out of this stat:

After swiping his first base in nine years on Saturday in the Mets’ 3-1 win against the Atlanta Braves, Henry Blanco has more steals than runners successfully stealing against him. That’s because runners are now 0-for-4 against Blanco, who threw out Martin Prado for a double play after Manny Acosta struck out Troy Glaus.

“You know what? Catchers are special people,” Barajas said. “We can do a lot of things that people don’t think we can. He’s always been known as a catch-and-throw guy. And every now and then, you fall asleep, most catchers can swipe a bag. He’s doing a great job.”

Mets pitchers are now 5-1 with a 2.17 ERA on the home stand. For the season, pitchers have surrendered only six earned runs in 43 innings with Blanco catching. He’s due for a second straight start Sunday, too, as Mike Pelfrey tries to up his 19-inning scoreless streak.

“Myself and Henry, we’ve been around the block,” Barajas said. “We know hitters. We know setting up pitches. We just know how to get the most out of these guys. When you’ve got two guys who pride themselves on their defense, their pitch-calling, their throwing, I think pitchers are going to have more success than they’ve had in the past.”

ON STRIKES: After fanning in the fourth inning against Jair Jurrjens, David Wright has struck out in a career-high 11 straight games. The streak is the longest by a Met since Cliff Floyd had an identical one in 2004. The franchise record is 16, by Ryan Thompson in 1995 and Dave Kingman, which spanned the 1975-76 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Wright, who went 0-for-4 as his average slipped to .230, continued to hear jeers from the home crowd.

“You try to get the job done, and sometimes you’re not going to get the job done,” Wright said. “You go there and keep working and hopefully you get some hits. It’s no big deal.

“I’ve gone up there and felt like I’ve had some good at-bats and not seen some of the results. And, vice versa. I’ve felt like I’ve gone up there and had some bad at-bats and gotten a couple of cheap hits. We’ll see. As long as I can go up there and stay positive -- and if we keep winning -- it makes it a lot easier to struggle.”

THREE’S A CHARM: Jose Reyes went 0-for-2 with two walks, a steal and a run scored in his second game in the No. 3 hole. Since the Mets returned to Citi Field on Monday, he’s hitting .400 with five runs scored. He arrived with a .154 average and two runs scored.

Reyes also is looking sharper in the field. He stranded two runners to end the eighth by leaving his feet and extending to snare Brian McCann’s soft liner.

“The more ground balls I get, the more comfortable I’m going to feel,” Reyes said. “Much better. I started to get my confidence back running-wise, too.”

As for the No. 3 hole, Reyes said: “Like I’ve said before, I don’t want to try to do anything different there. If I get on base and I get a good jump, I’m going to run. That’s good for the guy behind me, too. Maybe they throw more fastballs to Jason (Bay) and he’ll be able to put a better swing on the ball.”

Bay went 3-for-4 with an RBI, including a single in his final at-bat when the Braves lost a fly ball in the sun. He remains skeptical of the lineup switch having a big impact, and noted: “It’s really only relevant if Reyes is on. And it’s really only relevant if he’s on first or second, because he isn’t probably going to steal home. I haven’t noticed a huge difference. I think it coincides a little bit with me feeling a lot better the last couple of days. I have gotten some fastballs that I haven’t missed. No question. So there may be some truth to that. I don’t really know.”

Like Reyes, Bay has taken off with the home stand. After going 0-for-7 in last Saturday’s 20-inning game in St. Louis and not starting the series finale against the Cardinals, Bay is hitting .368 with three RBIs since returning home. He arrived back in Flushing with a .217 average and two RBIs.

“I feel more comfortable,” Bay said. “I’m never going to be in a situation where I say a slump is over or everything is fine and dandy. Obviously a few of the hits I’ve gotten, the at-bats I’m taking, I feel a lot more comfortable. Fortunately it’s starting to show.”

IT’S A START: Left-hander Jon Niese upped his scoreless-inning streak to 11 2/3 innings before David Ross’ sixth-inning RBI single opened the scoring Saturday. Niese allowed one run on five hits. He wasn’t particularly thrilled with five walks, although he also struck out six.

“Niese looked like he couldn’t find the strike zone,” right fielder Jeff Francoeur said. “But he struck out every guy he needed to.”

MISCELLANEOUS: Francisco Rodriguez notched a save on three straight days for the first time since getting saves on four straight days last May 4-7. … The ex-Brave Acosta earned his first win since topping the Mets last July 16. … Manager Jerry Manuel said John Maine’s routine between-starts bullpen session may come Monday instead of Sunday. … Lefthander Pedro Feliciano took sole possession of third place on the franchise’s all-time appearance list with 377, passing Jerry Koosman. … Citi Field’s “Bark in the Park” promotion Saturday helped set a Guinness World Record for most costumed dogs at a ballpark -- 208. ... Francoeur picked up his third outfield assist this season, trailing only Detroit's Magglio Ordonez (four) in the majors.