After dropping the first game of the series in true #LOLMets fashion, the Mets look to even it up tonight as they send R.A. Dickey to the hill against the Pittsburgh Pirates. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. and the game can be seen on SNY or heard, as always, on WFAN 660AM. Join the conversation on Twitter by following @dailystache or yours truly, @DevOnSports.
Dickey will be opposed tonight by Pittsburgh’s James McDonald, who seems to have found himself this season and settled in as one of the better starters in the National League thus far. The Mets will be looking to bounce back from Monday’s loss that saw them carry a lead into the late innings only to once again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
After sending out a Buffalo Bisons type lineup for Game 1, Terry Collins comes with a more traditional group for Game 2. Looking to ride the hot bat of Mike Baxter, Collins puts the Whitestone native in the leadoff spot. Daniel Murphy returns after getting Monday off. He’s batting fifth, though I’d still like to see him paired with Wright as the team’s most consistent producers should have the chance to help each other out. Ike Davis also returns to the lineup with another opportunity to right the ship against a righthander.
Baxter - Nieuwenhuis - Wright - Duda - Murphy - Davis - Cedeno - Nickeas - Dickey
Stache Sample Size: Davis is 3-for-6 in his career off Pirates starter James McDonald. All three hits were doubles. Wright is 2-for-6 off McDonald with a homer and four RBI.
Tabata - Harrison - McCutchen - Alvarez - Walker - Jones - Barajas - Barmes - McDonald
Stache Sample Size: Among Pittsburgh hitters, Garrett Jones is 4-for-10 lifetime off Dickey and Jose Tabata is 3-for-9, but Andrew McCutchen is just 2-for-9 with four strikeouts.
NYM: RA Dickey (5-1, 3.75 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 40 K) – It’s been an interesting season for the Mets’ resident knuckleballer. After a 2011 season that saw him on the losing end of many close games, fortunes have reversed for Dickey in 2012. He’s currently tied for second in the NL in wins despite getting off to perhaps his worst start as a Met.
After holding hitters to a sub-400 slugging percentage each of his first two seasons with New York, Dickey has been plagued by the extra base hit in 2012. So far he has allowed 11 doubles, a triple and eight home runs. Dickey’s other averages are stable and he’s striking out more batters this season (7.15 K/9) than he has since 2003, so perhaps the elevated slugging is just an early season aberration.
In his last start, Dickey went six innings against the Reds, allowing four runs — three earned — on five hits. He left the game on the wrong end of a 4-2 score, but a five-run Mets eighth and three scoreless innings from the Mets bullpen saved him. Dickey is 1-2 in four career starts against the Pirates, including two complete games. He’s held Pittsburgh hitters to a .202 batting average against and touts a 0.96 WHIP against them.
PIT: James McDonald (3-2, 2.68 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 50 K) – McDonald is off to an impressive start this season. Through eight starts, the Pittsburgh righthander has held batters to a .201 batting average against and his 1.01 WHIP is Top 10 in the NL. His walk rate is pretty normal, but McDonald has not surrendered many hits this year — just 35 in 50 innings this year — while BABIP against him stands at .268.
In his last start against the Nationals, McDonald took a no-hitter into the sixth before running into trouble. He surrendered three runs on four hits and didn’t make it out of the inning, however his bullpen bailed him out and the Pirates won. In addition to the three runs on four hits, McDonald struck out 11 and walked just one. McDonald has pitched in eight games, including four career starts against the Mets. Over that span he’s allowed 28 hits and walked 16 over 28 innings with 11 runs allowed and just 18 strikeouts.
Stache Keys to the Game:
- No Bullpen – Dickey has crafted a complete game against the Pirates in each of his first two seasons as a Met and tonight would be an opportune time for No. 3. The Mets have yet to get a complete game out of their staff this season and starters collectively have averaged less than six innings per outing. No wonder the bullpen is getting beat up of late, they’re overworked!
- Get It Wright – It’s pretty safe to say that David Wright is carrying the team offensively. The only other player in tonight’s Mets lineup hitting over .300, who has enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title, is Murphy (.317) and two of the other six players in the lineup are hitting under .200. Wright assuredly can’t keep this up forever, but the Mets need to be better at capitalizing with wins when he’s doing this much.
- Do or Die for Ike – The whispers surrounding a possible demotion to AAA for Ike Davis are getting louder and the only way Ike can silence them is to produce. He faces a righthander tonight against whom he has a short, but very good history against. A good game would go a long way toward getting back on track, Isaac.
This Date in Mets History:
On this date in 1998, General Manager Steve Phillips pulled off perhaps the best trade in Mets history, sending Preston Wilson, Geoff Goetz and Ed Yarnall to the Florida Marlins for Mike Piazza.
Big Mike would spend the next seven seasons with the Mets, leading the team to its first playoff berth in 11 years during the ’99 season and the World Series in 2000. Piazza is perhaps best known for his monumental eighth inning home run on September 21, 2001 at Shea Stadium to give the Mets the lead in the first game after the attacks of September 11th.
My favorite Piazza moment also came in the eighth inning of a Friday night game against the Braves, back on June 30, 2000 when Piazza’s three-run jack off Terry Mulholland capped a 10-run Mets eighth as they came back from an 8-1 deficit to win 11-8.