After a dominating road trip, the New York Mets look to push their season-high winning streak to nine games Friday when they return home to open a three-game set with the Baltimore Orioles at Shea Stadium.
The NL East-leading Mets (42-23) completed a 9-1 road trip by reeling off eight consecutive wins. They also are trying to extend a major league record of scoring a first-inning run for the ninth consecutive game, bettering the mark established by the 1939 New York Yankees.
New York is looking to match its longest win streak since April 16-25, 2000, the last time it reached the playoffs and won the NL title. That 2000 team had a clutch hitting third baseman in Robin Ventura, and these Mets may have a better one in David Wright.
The 23-year-old homered for the third consecutive game and had three RBIs in a 5-4 win Thursday over the Philadelphia Phillies to give the Mets a 9 1/2 -game lead atop the NL East.
“To be able to take four in a row in Arizona and three straight here shows that we’re not settling,” Wright said. “We didn’t settle for taking two out of three. That says a lot about a team. It shows we’re hungry.”
Wright, who leads voting among NL third basemen for the All-Star game, is 15-for-38 (.395) with four homers and 12 RBIs in his last nine games.
Another young Met, Alay Soler (2-1, 3.33 ERA), has made contributions to the team’s recent success. He will take the mound in search of his third consecutive win after pitching a two-hitter in a 5-0 victory Saturday over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“He’s a guy that, even though you don’t know who he is, you get the sense that he’s pitched a lot and knows how to pitch,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “We’re finding out a lot about him as a pitcher. He needs to just continue to throw the ball the way he has.”
The 26-year-old rookie right-hander has a 0.56 ERA, limiting opponents to one run and eight hits with nine strikeouts in 16 innings over his last two starts—both on the road.
The Cuba native has struggled in his first two starts at Shea Stadium, going 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA and allowing two home runs. He started the season with Class A St. Lucie before being called up May 22.
The Orioles will counter with Erik Bedard (5-6, 5.69), who hopes to avoid his fifth straight loss.
The left-hander has four losses, a 9.13 ERA and opponents are batting .350 batting with five home runs in 22 2-3 innings over his last five starts. In addition to his poor pitching, Bedard has received only eight runs of support in that span.
Bedard pitched better Sunday, yielded two runs and five hits with nine strikeouts over five innings in a 4-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
“All I need to do is get my three pitches for strikes and I’ll be fine,” said Bedard, who is one win shy of matching his career-high set in 2004 and matched last year.
The Orioles, who are 11-21 away from Camden Yards, dropped the final three games of a four-game set to the Toronto Blue Jays, including Thursday’s 4-2 road loss.
“It’s not frustrating. It’s just a good ballgame,” Orioles catcher Ramon Hernandez said. “They scored more runs than we did. It’s not frustration. We’re just trying to play good, come out ‘til the end and win.”
The Mets are 11-5 against the Orioles in interleague play, but they have not faced each other since 2001. Steve Trachsel is the lone Mets holdover from that series, while the Orioles have five with Jeff Conine, Brian Roberts, former Met Melvin Mora, Josh Gibbons and Luis Matos.