Mets Continue Winning Ways With Banner Day Win Over Padres

Published on: 27th May, 2012

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New York — The New York Mets of 2012 are playing a style of baseball lately reminiscent of the Miracle Mets of 1969. For those who may not recall that particular world championship team, the ’69 Mets were made up of a ragtag roster of used-to-be’s or never-were types, mostly unwanted by other teams in baseball, a fact not so dissimilar from this year’s team

But, two things set that team apart from every other team in baseball that year. They could pitch the hell out of the ball with great starting pitching and a reliable bullpen. And, their manager, Gil Hodges, had a particular skill for squeezing every last drop of talent out of a roster short on that element.

On a day when the Mets, as part of the franchise’s 50th anniversary festivities this summer, reached back into their past and brought back the popular Banner Day event, R.A. Dickey made like Tom Seaver and struck out 10 San Diego Padres, reaching double digits for strikeouts in consecutive games for the first time in his career as the New York Mets held the punchless Padres scoreless for the second straight day, 2-0.

Dickey (7-1) had struck out 11 Pirates on Tuesday. He is the first Mets pitcher to have back-to-back games with at least 10 Ks since Pedro Martinez did it in May 2006.

It is beginning to appear the formula for winning baseball, as promulgated by Mets manager Terry Collins, is beginning to fall into place as his team raised its record to 27-21, moving to six games over .500 for the first time since July 18th, 2010.

Like Hodges, Collins emphasizes pitching as the key to winning baseball.

“Starting pitching, that’s what it’s about,” said Collins. “The game is about the guy on the bump going out and giving you quality innings and keeping you in games.”

Johan Santana, seemingly fully recovered from his Tommy John surgery of over a year ago, pitched a four-hit shutout, yesterday. And, the number three starter, lefty Jonathan Niese, has had very solid outings lately as he searches for consistency. But, with a reliable top of the rotation and a confident Frank Francisco closing 13 of his 15 opportunities this season, the Mets have a chance to make the summer of 2012 interesting.

You get the sense this young team, picked by most pundits before the season to win no more than 70 games this season, is growing in confidence with every single win. The manager is noticing it.

“These guys expect to win,” Collins said. “When they take the field, they expect to beat you. And that means a lot. When you’ve got confidence, they don’t let some bad at bats affect them, they don’t let losing a game 14-7 affect them. They know the game’s over and the next day they’ve got to go out and play again. That, to me is what these guys are about. They don’t get too high when things are going good, and when things go bad, they forget it and move on.”

Dickey needed a bit of help from the bullpen to finish this one. Tim Byrdak got two outs to finish the eighth and Francisco pitched the ninth for his 13th save. Dickey gave up three hits, walked one and hit a batter in 7 1/3 innings.

“The knuckleball is a funny thing. It’s very enigmatic,” Dickey said. “Overall, I felt pretty good with where it’s at.”

Taking advantage of Padres starting pitcher Edinson Volquez’s wildness in the first, the Mets added to their major league-leading total of runs scored with two outs. After retiring the first two batters, Volquez walked David Wright. Wright stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch on ball four to Lucas Duda. Murphy then lined a single to right-center for the lead.

Banner Day used to be an annual event for Mets fans, who had been bringing bedsheets and signs to the games with all kinds of supportive messages for their beloved Mets players. Fans were allowed to walk along the outskirts of the field, displaying their creative flair and passion for their team, with the winner getting a terrific prize, such as a 19-inch color television back in 1965. As quaint a prize as that may seem today, it was a big deal 47-years ago.

Today’s winning banner, an homage to Mike Piazza’s famous home run the night after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, won the creators, two mid-twenties students, an all-expense paid trip to Port St. Lucie, Florida next year to visit the Mets at their spring training site.

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