NEW YORK -- For the first time in nearly a month, Jason Bay started in left field Tuesday against a right-handed pitcher.
The decision was based upon more than a hunch. Following a meeting with his coaching staff earlier in the day, Mets manager Terry Collins decided to back R.A. Dickey with his best defensive outfield in an effort to help Dickey pursue 20 wins and the National League Cy Young Award. That meant replacing regular left fielder Lucas Duda's power bat with Bay's superior speed and glove.
"No disrespect to Lucas, because he's done very well out there, he's played very well out there, but we have a guy who is an outstanding left fielder," Collins said of Bay. "If there's a ball hit out there that could lead to a decision-making play, I want to make sure our best guy is there."
Collins said that similar strategies will come into play for each of Dickey's starts down the stretch, knowing how critical every outing will be to his Cy chances. The knuckleballer entered Tuesday's play leading the NL with a 2.64 ERA, five complete games and three shutouts, ranking second with 18 wins and tied for sixth with 195 strikeouts.
Mets going to get looks at young arms down stretch
NEW YORK -- The Mets are no longer using a five-man rotation, a six-man rotation or, really, any sort of regular rotation at all.
Instead, at least eight different pitchers will make starts down the stretch for the Mets over their final 18 games, including top prospects Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia. Mejia is in line to make multiple starts beginning Saturday against the Brewers, followed by Familia at some point later this month.
"We will obviously monitor his workload," manager Terry Collins said of Mejia, who underwent Tommy John surgery last May.
Collin McHugh will also appear at least once more for the Mets, as will Jeremy Hefner. And Matt Harvey will make two more starts before the Mets shut him down for the season.
The only constants will be Chris Young and Jon Niese, who will remain on relatively regular schedules, and R.A. Dickey, who will continue to pitch every fifth game.
Mets honor 9/11 responders by donning hats in BP
NEW YORK -- As has become their Sept. 11 custom, the Mets took the field for batting practice Tuesday sporting hats from various New York City service departments that helped with 9/11 relief efforts. Mets players emerged from the clubhouse wearing hats from the NYPD, FDNY, PAPD, EMS Court Officers, OEM, Sanitation Department and the Department of Corrections.
Though the Mets did not petition Major League Baseball to wear the hats during the game, they will wear them again on their plane ride back from Milwaukee this weekend. They will also autograph the hats and auction them off at mets.com/gameused, with proceeds distributed to 9/11-related organizations. The auction will begin Wednesday and run through Sept. 23 at 8 p.m.
In addition, the Gies family threw out Tuesday's ceremonial first pitch to honor FDNY firefighter Ronnie Gies of Squad 288 in Maspeth, Queens, who lost his life on 9/11. Two of Gies' three sons are FDNY firefighters, and the third is training to become one.
"It's one of those dates in history where we all know where we were when the attacks came," said Mets manager Terry Collins, who attended the first game played at Yankee Stadium following 9/11. "The bravery that those guys showed ... I'm not sure that I could have done that."
Collins held a team meeting prior to Tuesday's game and told his players to speak to any first responders in attendance if they could, "because it was a life-changing incident, and certainly it means a lot for us to wear the hats for a while."