After an offensive outburst last night—their biggest since 2008, scoring 14 runs—the Mets will hand the ball to knuckleballer R.A. Dickey tonight. The Mets are 10-3 so far in interleague play and will go for the series win against Jeremy Bonderman and the Detroit Tigers.
Last night, the Mets got to Justin Verlander early, scoring two quick runs and then adding on in the third, before the rain delay. The Mets' one through four hitters combined for 13 hits and 10 runs scored, en route to a 14-run attack. With the way Jose Reyes and Angel Pagan have been playing together as a one-two punch, it'll be hard for teams to shut the Mets down in the first inning of games.
The Mets offense is developing into a complete package. It provides speed with Reyes and Pagan, one-two. It provides power with Wright, Davis, and Bay, three, four, five. It provides depth with Barajas and Francoeur, six, seven. It provides Ruben Tejada batting eighth, setting it up for the pitcher.
This lineup, as good as it may seem, is only going to get better with the addition of Carlos Beltran, who should be here no later that 20 days from Thursday, if not before.
Trying to strike early like against Verlander, the Mets will face a guy who's had a bad Major League career in Jeremy Bonderman. Either injured or ineffective, Bonderman has not lived up to the first round pick that he was back in 2001 with the Oakland Athletics.
Brought up as a 20-year-old in 2003 with an all-time bad Tigers team, Bonderman lost 19 games. His best season was in 2006, the year the Tigers went to the World Series, when he went 14-8 and struck out a career-high 202 batters. Over the past three seasons, Bonderman has been injured, and has only made a total of 25 starts.
Just like his fellow starter Justin Verlander, Bonderman has had the luck recently of pitching against bad teams. You saw what that did for Verlander last night, getting hit around by one of the better teams.
After pitching against a lot of quality opponents in April and May, Bonderman's last six starts have all come against weak hitting teams: the Athletics, Mariners, Indians, Royals, Pirates, and Nationals. All but one of those starts he fared well, except for the start against the Royals on June 6 where he gave up seven runs on 11 hits in 5.2 innings.
Meanwhile, R.A. Dickey has been phenomenal so far with the Mets. He became the first Met in their 49-year history to win five of the first six starts of a season in his last start. In every start this season, Dickey has gone at least six innings, and has allowed no more than four runs. After facing a crafty lefty in Jon Niese last night, it'll be interesting to see how the big Tigers bats go about hitting the knuckler Dickey tonight.
According to Jerry Manuel, it looks like reliever Bobby Parnell was called up from the minors to appear in important situations, not like last night's 14-6 outing. Manuel said before last night's game that Parnell will either pitch with a lead in the seventh or pitch in a tie game in the eighth.
The eighth inning was a topic of conversation yesterday, as closer Francisco Rodriguez was quoted saying he's not comfortable with the Mets' eighth inning situation. He wants the Mets to have a lockdown setup man so that he knows if he's pitching the ninth, or coming in in the eighth.
So far you'd have to say that Pedro Feliciano and Elmer Dessens still have the job, although Parnell along with a recently rejuvenated Ryota Igarashi are taking Dessens's role away as the right-handed setup man.
The Mets would love to avoid doing what they did against the Yankees and lose a series after winning the first game. You wouldn't think that's likely, the way they hit Verlander last night, and the fact they are at home, where they are 25-10 this season.
A win would push the Mets to their season-high watermark 11 games over .500. They currently trail the first-place Braves by one-and-a-half games in the NL East, and they lead the NL Wild Card race by one-half game over the Giants.
R.A. Dickey vs. Detroit (career)
2-2, 4.69 ERA, 48 IP, 59 hits, 14 BB, 26 SO
Jeremy Bonderman vs. New York (career)
1-1, 7.36 ERA, 11 IP, 11 hits, 3 BB, 11 SO
2010 season series (New York vs. Detroit)
June 22: New York 14, Detroit 6
Mets lead series 1-0