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Sunday, June 3, 2012
Cardinals stymied, have 'Met' their match


Five things to know on the Sunday Night Baseball game at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2 as the New York Mets look to make it three straight wins over the St. Louis Cardinals


1. Mets starting pitchers have thrown shutouts in consecutive games, the first time their starting pitchers pitched consecutive shutouts since the same two starters did so August 12-13, 2010 -- Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey, against the Rockies and Phillies.

The Mets have never shut out the Cardinals three times in a three-game sweep. The fewest runs they’ve allowed against the Cardinals in a series of three or more games was two runs, from April 1-4 2007 (three-game series).

2. The Cardinals, with one of the best offenses in the National League, have been shut out in consecutive games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it’s the first time in MLB history the reigning World Series champion had back-to-back shutout losses where one of those losses was a no-hitter.

3. There have been 17 home runs hit at Citi Field that would NOT have been home runs there last year, due to the more spacious outfield dimensions, including FIVE homers that have traveled at least 408 feet that would NOT have left the park last season.

It’s been evenly distributed among teams: the Mets have racked up eight such home runs and their opponents have totaled nine.

4. Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook had a good start to the season, going 4-2 with a 1.76 ERA in his first six starts, allowing two earned or fewer in five of those six starts.

Over his past four starts, he’s 0-2 with an 8.10 ERA and the Cardinals have lost all four games. His sinker has been the issue -- he’s allowed a .353 batting average off sinkers in the past four starts after allowing just a .189 batting average in his first six.

His mound counterpart, Mets starter Jonathon Niese was 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA in his first four starts this season and the Mets went 3-1 in those games. In his past six starts, Niese is 1-2 with a 6.07 ERA and the Mets have gone just 2-4.

Niese can’t find the strike zone -- his walk rate has nearly doubled from seven percent during his first four starts to 13 percent in his last six.

5. Mets third baseman David Wright is hitting .365 and much of his improvement has come against pitches on the inner-third of the plate or closer to him. He has a .397 batting average and 1.113 OPS against pitches on the inner-third of the plate or closer to him, a jump of nearly 200 points in batting average and 500 points in OPS from last season.