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New York Mets Pitchers Finding Success by Keeping the Ball in the Yard

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New York Mets Pitchers Finding Success by Keeping the Ball in the Yard
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

If chicks did the long ball, there's not going to be a whole lot of love if your team is squaring off against the Mets.

For all of the questions about Jerry Manuel's rotation coming into the season, it has been an unlikely group of pitchers who have helped New York remain in contention in a highly competitive NL East.

Every team has their faults in the division, and with no one team running away with things one-third of the way through the year, it is as wide open as it has ever been.

We know the story about the Mets struggles and that is why their pitching has surprised so many people over the past week or so.

John Maine went on the 15-day DL with rotator cuff tendinitis in his right arm a week ago, Jonathon Niese will make a rehanb start today after straining his left hamstring a couple days ago, and Sean Green and Kelvim Escobar—although bit parts—are out indefinitely. Add to that dilemma the head case that is Olly Perez, and you can see why there were serious problems throughout the starting rotation.

But then a strange thing happened. The Mets started keeping the ball in the yard and the wins began piling up.

Sure, it helps when you're playing half of your games in a park that admittedly plays big, but that shouldn't take anything away from what the Mets are accomplishing with a makeshift pitching staff.

It has been well documented that the Mets had not given up a run in 35.2 innings until the walk off home run to Corey Hart. But similarly impressive and not so widely praised has been the ability to limit the home run completely.

Starting on May 19, the Mets had not allowed a home run at all in eight consecutive games, spanning contests with the Nationals, Yankees, and Phillies. Putting it into perspective, if the Mets had shut out the Brewers last night, that stretch of home run-less games would have been tied for the fourth most in franchise history.

As it stands, the run of eight games ranks 11th all-time for the Mets.

Adding more context to the accomplishments of New York's pitching, there have only been five instances in the last decade when a team has not allowed a home run in nine consecutive games. That is truly impressive.

R.A. Dickey has not allowed a home run in his two outings and neither has Hisanori Takahashi—two men who didn't really figure to feature in New York's plans eight weeks ago. Mike Pelfrey has maybe been the best of all, allowing just three long balls in 63.2 innings.

While the Mets have been significantly worse on their travels this year, it is worth pointing out that they have recorded six straight games at home without surrendering a home run. Florida comes to Citi Field on June 4 for three games and the weak-hitting Padres complete the six-game homestand between June 8 and 10.

It's asking a lot for the Mets to keep the ball in the yard for all of these games, too, but considering how well they have been playing at home it is certainly possible.

No team has gone more than 10 consecutive home games without allowing a home run since 1997, so it would be an impressive feat.

All of this, however, is set against a backdrop of success. If the Mets do not allow a home run in each of their next four games, for example, but lose all four, then the impressive statistical anomaly counts for very little.

Winning is the name of the game, and I can guarantee the Mets would rather give up three home runs in a game and win than keep the ball in the park for nine innings and lose.

Just as vital to the team's success is scratching out a victory on the road. That challenge resumes again today in the second game of a three-game set in Milwaukee.

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