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Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Updated: May 19, 10:30 AM ET
Strikeouts, error haunt Wright in Atlanta

By Adam Rubin
ESPNNewYork.com

ATLANTA -- David Wright bears the weight of an entire organization's struggles, whether he admits it or not. That burden appears particularly heavy these days.

Wright struck out in his final three trips to the plate Tuesday night, stranding the go-ahead run at third base in the final of those at-bats in the ninth. A half-inning later, the third baseman hurried a throw into runner Melky Cabrera and past first baseman Ike Davis, allowing the winning run to score from second base in the Mets' 3-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.

The Mets split a two-game series with the Braves, and have suffered losses in both games started by ace Johan Santana on what's become a 1-5 trip.

Wright It's tough when somebody goes out there and is playing as poorly as I am right now and really costing us today both offensively and defensively.

-- David Wright, on his recent struggles

"It can be a tough, humbling game sometimes. Right now it is for me," Wright said. "The guys are going out there and really fighting hard and doing a good job. It's tough when somebody goes out there and is playing as poorly as I am right now and really costing us today both offensively and defensively."

Wright has struck out in a career-high 15 straight games -- the longest streak by a Met since Todd Hundley struck out in 16 straight games in 1998. Wright has struck out in 55 of 141 at-bats this season.

Afterward, manager Jerry Manuel indicated he needed to give Wright a day off during the upcoming two-game series in Washington -- "probably" on Wednesday to "try to freshen him up, pick his spirits up, and try to come up with a better plan for two strikes and what have you."

Said Manuel: "I know it's frustrating for him -- very frustrating for him."

Wright countered that it is not in his best interest to sit, as Jason Bay did Tuesday. And the third baseman likely was not even considering his .334 average, four homers and 10 RBIs in 36 career at-bats against Nationals starter Livan Hernandez.

"That could be one of the worst things right now," Wright said about taking a day off. "I want to get back out there and kind of get this taste out of my mouth. It was a rough day. It's a tough, humbling game and really can kind of bring you to your knees sometimes. You never want to go out there and cost your team a ballgame. I had a chance to put us up there late and then had a chance to make that play, and then who knows what happens? It's a tough day for me individually."

Manuel suggested the Mets need to redouble their efforts to figure out why Wright's strikeout total is so high. Asked if opposing pitchers are following a particular blueprint -- busting Wright inside to get him to flinch, then getting him to flail at off-speed pitches away, Manuel agreed that was the case.

"I think that's happening," Manuel said. "I think he is aware of that."

Is that a reaction to last August's beaning by San Francisco's Matt Cain, which left Wright -- at least initially -- flinching at balls close to him?

"I won't say that," Manuel said. "That's something that's probably in the equation for thought. I can't say I've noticed that big of a deal."

One way to address the strikeout issue, Manuel said, is to throw out any plan of trying to get to a favorable hitter's count. Instead, Wright ought to attack early -- before a pitcher has the opportunity to get to two strikes.

"There's foul balls, foul balls, and then all of a sudden you get into a situation where the pitcher can go either way -- can go changeup or fastball," Manuel said. "Then that becomes a difficult challenge for even the good hitters. We have to talk about putting the ball in play early in the count and not kind of waiting around, and waiting until we get favorable counts or anything."

Manuel as well as Wright's teammates see his frustration, which the third baseman is no longer concealing after strikeouts.

Right fielder Jeff Francoeur, who broke his own 0-for-20 rut with a solo homer in the fifth inning, noted he could empathize with Wright.

"I sat and talked to my wife a long time last night," Francoeur said. "You can feel so lost at one point, and feel so good at one point. It's one of those things, I think the harder you try sometimes, the worse things get."

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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