Last season, the New York Mets got off to a quick start at home en route to the NL East title. They’re doing it on the road this time.
The Mets look to wrap up a two-game sweep of the Florida Marlins as their series concludes Thursday at Dolphin Stadium.
The reigning NL East champions started 10-4 last season, with seven of those wins coming at Shea Stadium. This year’s Mets (9-4) improved to 6-2 on the road following their 9-2 win Wednesday, in which John Maine carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning before allowing a leadoff single to Miguel Cabrera.
“It’s next to impossible to do,” Maine said of throwing a no-hitter. “At this point I just want to go out there and get innings and help the team win. I don’t want to think about anything like that.”
Offensively, Jose Reyes had his first four-hit game of the season and improved his batting average to .400 (14-for-35) on the road. The speedy shortstop also has 11 runs and eight RBIs while compiling a .488 on-base percentage in the eight away games.
Mets third baseman David Wright extended his hitting streak to a franchise-record 25 games dating back to last season by going 2-for-5 with an RBI. He is also 11 games shy of the single-season team record of 24, established by Hubie Brooks in 1984 and matched by Mike Piazza in 1999.
“The streak’s nowhere in my mind over the course of the game,” Wright said. “But it was one of my goals coming into this year to get that consistency.”
About the only thing Wright hasn’t hit in 2007 is a home run, after totaling 53 the last two seasons. He has also yet to hit one in 80 lifetime at-bats spanning 21 games at Dolphin Stadium.
Mets starter Orlando Hernandez (1-1, 4.00 ERA) is trying to bounce back from a rough outing after being tagged for six runs and eight hits in five innings of a 6-2 loss to the Washington Nationals on Saturday. The right-hander has thrived on the road this April, though, limiting opponents to two runs and seven hits in 13 innings over two starts.
Hernandez is 2-1 with a 5.19 ERA in three lifetime starts against the Marlins, winning both his outings at Dolphin Stadium.
The Marlins (6-8), who have lost four in a row, turn to rookie Rick Vanden Hurk (0-0, 3.86), who will try again to notch his first major league win. The 21-year-old right-hander has not started since April 10, when he limited the Milwaukee Brewers to one run and five hits in 4 2-3 innings before leaving without a decision in a game eventually suspended due to rain.
Vanden Hurk made a relief appearance Sunday, allowing two runs and three hits in 2 1-3 innings.
The Marlins also had to shuffle their bullpen after placing Jorge Julio on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a strained calf. Julio, who suffered the injury in the fourth inning of Tuesday’s game against Houston, was off to a brutal start, giving up 12 runs and 15 hits with 11 walks in just 5 2-3 innings and losing the closer’s role.
“The great thing about him is his enthusiasm is still there,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez told the team’s official Web site. “He wants to do it, and he wants to help the club. He wants to be a valuable piece of this puzzle. You’ve got to like that.”
Cabrera ended an 0-for-11 slump with his single, but is just 2-for-16 in his last four games and homerless in his last five.