That patience has been rewarded handsomely of late.
Delgado and the Mets seek a fifth consecutive victory Wednesday when they continue their series with the San Francisco Giants at Shea Stadium.
As recently as May 22, Delgado was batting just .209, and Mets manager Willie Randolph had moved the veteran first baseman out of his customary cleanup spot to as low as sixth in the batting order. The shuffle continued even as New York (33-17) lost starters Moises Alou and Jose Valentin to injuries.
Yet the 34-year-old Delgado recently began to swing the bat better, and Randolph had enough confidence to return him to the No. 4 spot in the lineup. Delgado has responded with four homers in his last three games, including a game-winning solo shot in the bottom of the 12th inning of Tuesday’s 5-4 victory.
“He’s smoking the ball,” third baseman David Wright told the Mets’ official Web site. “You don’t hit 400-something homers just hitting a home run every now and then. His homers come in bunches.”
Delgado is 11-for-25 (.440) while hitting safely in his last six games, raising his batting average 30 points. His homer Tuesday gave the Mets their 15th come-from-behind victory - tied with Arizona for most in the NL.
“We’re good at it,” said Delgado, who is 4-for-17 with seven strikeouts against Giants scheduled starter Barry Zito.
“That’s a tough one to lose,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who argued the first balk but not the second.
Zito (4-5, 4.70 ERA) will now try to stop a four-game losing streak for the Giants (24-26) and win his second consecutive start. The left-hander limited the Houston Astros to one run and four hits in seven innings of a 9-1 victory last Wednesday, bouncing back from a poor outing against the Oakland Athletics - his former team.
Zito has lost three consecutive road starts, giving up 16 runs and walking 13 in 17 innings since a victory at Colorado. His lone start against the Mets was a victory on May 7.
For the Mets, Tom Glavine (5-2, 3.39) will try again to pick up his 296th career victory. The veteran left-hander was outpitched by former teammate John Smoltz in a 2-1 defeat at Atlanta on Thursday, despite yielding only two runs in six innings.
“It’s tough to swallow, but you have to put it behind you,” said Glavine, who has not lost back-to-back starts since Aug. 11 and 16. “When you pitch well and things don’t go your way, it’s hard to put it behind you.”
The 41-year-old Glavine turned in arguably his best effort of the season at San Francisco on May 8, limiting the Giants to one run in a season-high seven innings of New York’s 4-1 victory. He is 20-15 with a 3.54 ERA in 43 lifetime starts against San Francisco.
Giants left fielder Barry Bonds, who walked in a 10th-inning pinch-hit appearance Tuesday, is 27-for-82 (.329) with four homers lifetime against Glavine, including the 745th of his career on May 8.
After using five relievers Tuesday, the Mets will get some added bullpen depth with the return of set-up man Guillermo Mota, who completed his 50-game suspension for using a performance-enhancing substance. Mota, who has been pitching at Triple-A New Orleans, forfeited nearly one-third of his $1.8 million salary for 2007.