The Mets had scored three runs or fewer in 14 of their previous 17 games before breaking out for seven runs on Friday night, and they had gone into this series batting .211 with 92 runs in 33 games since the All-Star break. The Mets were also hitting an identical .211 in August, but that was before they strung together 15 hits on Friday.
Pittsburgh, strangely enough, was playing through a similar trend. The Pirates have scored just 18 runs in their past nine games, and seven of those runs came in one productive night. Pittsburgh went into Friday's game batting a season-worst .233 in August, and manager John Russell thinks his young lineup may be pressing.
"When you're not scoring runs, guys tend to press," said Russell of his rookie-laden batting order. "And I think we're trying to do too much right now. It's everybody, no matter where they're at. They are trying hard."
Despite that effort, the Pirates are still assured of their 18th straight season with a losing record, which stands as the longest skid in professional sports. Pittsburgh has never been more than seven games over .500 at any point during the streak, a feat the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers have managed four times in that span.
Things appear to be looking up for the Pirates, though, thanks to a batting order that includes leadoff man Andrew McCutchen and cleanup hitter Pedro Alvarez. Both McCutchen and Alvarez are recent first-round draftees for the Pirates -- as is second baseman Neil Walker -- giving the Pirates a lineup core to build around.
The Mets, meanwhile, are trying to right a season-long trend of problems on the road. New York will need to win one of the next two games to earn its first road series win against a National League club this season. And that won't be easy, especially when you consider that the Mets are just 7-15 in their previous 22 road games.
Niese, who has gone 1-2 with a 2.91 ERA in his past seven starts, is fairly indicative of a larger trend. The Mets have seen their starters allow three earned runs or fewer in 26 of their past 34 starts. And despite that success, New York's rotation has managed an 8-14 record and a whopping 12 no-decisions over that span.
"It's frustrating," said Niese of the starting rotation's rough luck this season. "You never want to lose -- especially when all the pitchers pitch a good game -- but it's all part of the game. Obviously, things aren't really coming together for us right now, but you can't give up, we've got to keep going and keep trying to win ballgames."
Mets: Reyes rolling on the road
Shortstop Jose Reyes may have started his season late, but he's beginning to make up for lost time. Reyes has hit safely in 20 consecutive road games, a streak that stands two games shy of the franchise record. That streak is somewhat unexpected, because Reyes has hit .317 at home and .261 on the road this season.
But there was Reyes coming through with three hits, two runs and a stolen base in Friday's series opener, pacing the road team's offense from the top of the lineup. The Mets are 37-17 this season when he scores a run, and Reyes has managed an average .300 or better in June (.314), July (.310) and August (.316).
Pirates: McDonald enjoying ride on Pirates' ship
The Pirates will go with McDonald, who was acquired in a deadline deal with the Dodgers, in Saturday's middle act. McDonald, a former 11th-round draftee, has gone 2-1 with a 2.55 ERA in his first three starts for Pittsburgh. McDonald has completed six innings twice and held the opposition to two runs or fewer twice in three starts.
The 25-year-old made 12 starts for Triple-A Albuquerque before his promotion to the Majors, notching a 6-1 record and a 4.41 ERA. McDonald pitched for the Dodgers briefly in each of the past two seasons, but couldn't carve out a regular role. Then he was traded to the Pirates with Andrew Lambo in exchange for reliever Octavio Dotel.
The Pirates are just 22-60 in their past 82 games, the most losses they've had in a similar span since 1953. Pittsburgh has also lost 24 of 34 since the All-Star break. ... The Mets have earned just two road series wins -- sweeps at American League clubs Baltimore and Cleveland -- all season. ... The Mets are 14-15 all-time at PNC Park, and they've managed to win five of their past 10 series in Pittsburgh dating back to '00. ... New York has scored first in five straight games, but is just 3-2 in that span. For the season, the Mets are 49-22 when drawing first blood.
Sat, 8/21 7:05 PM ET
Mets sing songs of victory in the rain
Jon Niese allowed one run for the fourth consecutive start, David Wright belted a three-run homer and the Mets clinched their first road series over a National League foe by handing the Pirates their fifth successive loss.
|Reyes, Js, SS||4||1||2||0||0||1||3||.291|
|Carter, C, RF||2||0||0||0||1||1||3||.270|
|Wright, D, 3B||3||1||1||3||0||1||2||.294|
|Davis, I, 1B||2||1||1||0||1||0||0||.244|
|Tejada, R, 2B||2||0||0||1||0||0||2||.174|
|McCutchen, A, CF||3||1||2||0||0||0||0||.284|
|Jones, G, 1B||2||0||0||0||0||0||2||.252|
|Snyder, C, C||2||0||0||0||0||1||2||.224|
|McDonald, Ja, P||1||0||0||0||0||1||2||.000|
|a-LaRoche, An, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.222|
|McCutchen, D, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.091|
2B: Reyes, Js (25, McDonald, Ja), Davis, I (22, McDonald, Ja), Pagan (24, McDonald, Ja).
HR: Wright, D (19, 5th inning off McDonald, Ja, 2 on, 1 out).
TB: Reyes, Js 3; Pagan 3; Wright, D 4; Davis, I 2; Thole.
RBI: Tejada, R (7), Wright, D 3 (81).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Wright, D; Reyes, Js; Niese 2.
SF: Tejada, R.
Team RISP: 2-for-9.
Team LOB: 8.
2B: McCutchen, A 2 (24, Niese, Niese), Tabata (16, Niese).
TB: McCutchen, A 4; Tabata 2; Walker; Cedeno.
RBI: Walker (35).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Jones, G; McDonald, Ja; Walker.
SAC: Tabata 2.
Team RISP: 1-for-6.
Team LOB: 5.
E: Alvarez (9, fielding).
WP: McDonald, Ja.
Pitches-strikes: Niese 83-57, McDonald, Ja 103-55, McCutchen, D 6-2.
Groundouts-flyouts: Niese 6-2, McDonald, Ja 4-6, McCutchen, D 0-0.
Batters faced: Niese 21, McDonald, Ja 27, McCutchen, D 1.
Umpires: HP: Adrian Johnson. 1B: Tim McClelland. 2B: D.J. Reyburn. 3B: Andy Fletcher.
Weather: 78 degrees, cloudy.
Wind: 6 mph, In from RF.
T: 1:39 (1:26 delay).
Compiled by MLB Advanced Media