When Jack McKeon replaced Jeff Torborg as manager on May 11, the Florida Marlins were six games below .500.
The Marlins will try to achieve a winning record for the first time since April 26 when they face the New York Mets in the middle game of their series at Shea Stadium.
Florida’s 8-4 win on Tuesday night was the team’s fifth straight victory, and evened its record for the first time since May 1.
A lot of the credit goes to McKeon, who has made an impression on his young players, all but five of which weren’t born when McKeon was a first-year manager at Kansas City in 1973.
“Just being around these guys and in this job makes you feel like you’re 45,” he said, “Age is just a number.”
The only winning season in franchise history was six years ago, and this season’s high hopes were quickly deflated by a wave of injuries.
But Florida has responded to the 72-year-old skipper’s presence, winning 20 of its last 30 games.
New York, on the other hand, has dropped four straight.
Rookie shortstop Jose Reyes made an error Tuesday on what appeared to be an inning-ending double play. The miscue allowed two runs to score. He also went 0-for-3, and has just one hit in his last 15 at-bats, dropping his average to .180
“I don’t think Reyes is pressing at all,” Mets manager Art Howe said. “He just didn’t get down on a ball. Maybe he was trying to get it out of his glove before he caught it. That’s what you get with a young player, inconsistency. It’s unfortunate because both times he’s done it, it’s come with the bases loaded.”
STANDINGS: Marlins - 4th place, 12 GB, NL East. Mets - 5th place, 16 GB, NL East.
MARLINS PROBABLE STARTER: Mark Redman (5-2, 2.61 ERA). Redman is unbeaten in his last seven starts, including a tremendous effort against Tampa Bay on Friday. Though he allowed just one run and five hits over eight innings, he didn’t figure in the Marlins’ 3-2, 11-inning win. He is 0-1 with a 3.75 ERA in two career starts against the Mets.
METS PROBABLE STARTER: Steve Trachsel (5-5, 4.62 ERA). The veteran right-hander took the defeat in the Mets’ 5-0 loss to the Yankees on Friday night, allowing two runs and five hits over seven innings. Trachsel is 6-9 with a 3.38 ERA in 20 career starts against Florida.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Marlins - Alex Gonzalez, .323 avg.; Mike Lowell, 23 HRs, 63 RBIs and 49 runs; Juan Pierre, 31 SBs. Mets - Ty Wigginton, .273 avg. and 43 runs; Cliff Floyd, 14 HRs and 41 RBIs; Roberto Alomar, 6 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Marlins, 6-5.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Marlins - Marlins pitchers had not issued a walk in 16 innings until RHP Brad Penny walked OF Floyd with two outs in the sixth inning Tuesday. … The Marlins will play 15 of their last 18 games before the All-Star break on the road. Marlins hitters lead the NL in road batting average (.282). … 2B Luis Castillo’s homer Tuesday was his 18th career hit off LHP Al Leiter but the first homer. … Left-handed batters are hitting .141 against LHP Redman this season. Mets - C Vance Wilson threw out all three runners attempting to steal in Tuesday’s defeat. He has thrown out 46 percent of would-be base stealers this year (13-for-28). … OF Roger Cedeno’s stolen base in the first inning on Tuesday was the 200th of his career. … SS Reyes walked for the first time in his career in Tuesday’s loss.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Marlins - 16-21 on the road; Mets - 16-19 at home.
INJURIES: Marlins - RHP Josh Beckett (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Toby Borland (appendicitis), 60-day DL; RHP Tim Spooneybarger (arm), 15-day DL; RHP A.J. Burnett (elbow), 60-day DL. Mets - C Mike Piazza (groin), 15-day DL; INF Rey Sanchez (thumb), 15-day DL; LHP Mike Stanton (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Pedro Astacio (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Grant Roberts (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Strickland (elbow), 60-day DL; 1B Mo Vaughn (knee), 60-day DL.