Finally, the New York Mets starting rotation is getting healthy.
Ishii had been sidelined since April 19 with a strained muscle in his left side. The left-hander had been wild in his last start, a 5-4 loss to Philadelphia on April 18. He gave up five runs on six hits and six walks in just five innings.
The Mets won the series opener 9-2 on Monday behind the strong pitching of Kris Benson. Like Ishii, Benson had been bothered by injuries this season. He was making just his third start of the season after beginning the year on the disabled list with a strained chest muscle.
Benson limited Cincinnati to four hits in 7 2-3 innings.
“I stuck with my game plan, with what I’ve been concentrating on,” Benson said. “I feel like I’m getting back in the groove., Hopefully, I can continue with good outings.”
Mets manager Willie Randolph hopes so, too.
“Benson is a key for us,” he said. “He’s our No. 3. He came in and dominated. He had a good slider, a sinker down in the zone and good movement.”
Keeping Benson and Ishii healthy will be key for the Mets this season.
“The longer I pitch, the better I feel,” he said. “I feel now I’m where I need to be. I feel more relaxed. Today was a big jump. I threw a lot of pitches and I had a good outing.”
Benson benefited from six extra-base hits, one of them the 11th homer of the season by Cliff Floyd. New York scored four runs in the first two innings and provided a comfort zone for Benson.
“We kept scoring and that was a relief for me,” he said.
The Reds have dropped six of their last 10 games and are languishing in last place of the NL Central. The middle of the lineup—Sean Casey, Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn and Joe Randa—went a combined 1-for-15 on Monday.
“We got four hits so I guess he threw the ball pretty well,” Cincinnati manager Dave Miley said. “The way Benson was throwing, we didn’t have many chances.”