Just over a week ago, New York Mets manager Willie Randolph met with ownership and seemed to be in danger of losing his job. It appears to be a lot safer now.
New York looks to continue its turnaround and win for the eighth time in 10 games Thursday night when it opens a four-game set against the San Diego Padres.
The Mets (30-28) opened the season expecting to compete for their first World Series title in 22 years. They appeared to be motivated after squandering a seven-game lead in the NL East with 17 to play to miss the 2007 playoffs, handing Philadelphia the division crown on the final day of the season.
Still stinging from that bitter disappointment, New York got off to a poor start in 2008, going 23-25 before ownership called a meeting with Randolph and general manager Omar Minaya on May 26. It seemed Randolph was on the verge of being fired, but Minaya claimed his job was never in jeopardy.
The Mets responded that night with a listless 7-3 home loss to Florida, but they have since gotten their season going in the right direction by winning seven of nine.
They won again Wednesday, beating San Francisco 5-3 to take the last two games of the three-game set and win their third consecutive series since Randolph’s meeting.
“For me, it’s only been a matter of time,” said Randolph, who guided New York to the playoffs in his second season on the job in 2006. “I know we can play better than we have. We’ve shown more consistency and that’s the team we’re going to be over a long season. I hope we’re on a nice little groove.”
Jose Reyes has been a catalyst of late, getting on base in 35 consecutive games - a team record for a leadoff hitter. The All-Star shortstop went 3-for-4 with a homer, two RBIs and a stolen base on Wednesday. In his last 20 games, he’s hitting .330 (29-for-88) with six homers, 15 RBIs and seven stolen bases.
Reyes, though, is 5-for-49 (.102) in 13 games at San Diego (24-37).
New York lost two of three meetings to the Padres there last season, while doing the same at home.
The Mets give Mike Pelfrey (2-6, 4.98 ERA) his first start against San Diego, hoping he can post his first win since April 15.
The right-hander is 0-6 with a 5.77 ERA in his last seven starts, and Randolph is considering dropping him from the rotation. Pelfrey was solid Saturday, however, allowing two runs and striking out six in seven innings without getting a decision in a 3-2 win over Los Angeles.
He’s 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA in three road starts.
The Padres, coming off Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Chicago to snap a three-game skid, give the ball to Josh Banks (2-0, 0.00).
The right-hander pitched a gem in his first start of the season Saturday, throwing a six-hitter with five strikeouts in a 5-1 win at San Francisco.
“The thing about it is he’s got composure on the mound, he has a sense of what he wants to do with each pitch and he pitches his game,” Padres manager Bud Black said of the right-hander, who has allowed one unearned run in 17 innings over three games since being recalled from Triple-A Portland on May 22.
San Diego acquired Banks off waivers in April after he was designated for assignment by Toronto after going 0-0 with a 7.36 ERA in three games - one start - last year.
Adrian Gonzalez is looking to rebound from his 0-for-4 performance on Wednesday after going 13-for-25 (.520) with two homers and 11 RBIs in his previous six games. The first baseman hit .407 (11-for-27) with two homers and four RBIs in six games against the Mets last season.