The New York Mets have been trying to survive without three of their best hitters for some time, and it’s been quite evident recently their internal options aren’t helping.
Following a successful debut with his new club, Francoeur will look to help the Mets head into the All-Star break with a rare series win Sunday against the visiting Cincinnati Reds.
New York (41-45) has seen its offense fare worse since Carlos Beltran(notes) joined Carlos Delgado(notes) and Jose Reyes on the disabled list three weeks ago. The Mets are hitting .216 with five homers while going 4-11 since June 26, dropping four consecutive series along the way.
They got off to a poor start against Cincinnati (42-44) on Friday, mustering four hits while being shut out for the third time in five games. That same night, however, general manager Omar Minaya traded outfielder Ryan Church(notes) to Atlanta for the struggling Francoeur, hoping the one-time premier prospect could help ignite New York’s stagnant offense.
In one game, Francoeur did more than most of the Mets have over the past week. New York had totaled 10 runs in its last seven games, but Francoeur’s two hits and two RBIs Saturday helped back ace Johan Santana(notes) in a 4-0 win.
“It was awesome,” Francoeur said. “Probably, it was even cool for me to have Santana throwing the first night you’re here, coming in with an energized crowd. The place was packed and that’s something as a player you thrive on.”
New York will look to close the season’s unofficial first half on a high note against Aaron Harang(notes) (5-8, 3.89 ERA), who is looking for his first win since May 25. The right-hander has delivered five quality starts in his last eight outings, but is 0-4 with a 4.63 ERA.
Harang gave up three runs and nine hits over six innings Tuesday at Philadelphia, striking out seven and failed to get a decision in the Reds’ 4-3 win.
“The biggest thing is I stayed relaxed and focused on executing the pitches,” said Harang, who’s 2-2 with a 5.04 ERA in five starts against the Mets.
He gave up a run and seven hits over five innings on April 6 versus New York, but lost 2-1.
Francoeur is 3 for 14 (.214) with a homer against Harang, while David Wright(notes) is 6 for 10 with a homer and four RBIs. The Mets, however, haven’t hit a home run in 75 consecutive innings since Fernando Tatis(notes) connected at Pittsburgh on July 2.
Jay Bruce(notes) has hit a team-high 18 homers this season for the Reds despite a .207 average, but he will not get a chance to add to that total for a while after fracturing his right wrist Saturday while attempting a diving catch.
“I don’t know what to say,” manager Dusty Baker said. “I think we are being tested. We got to keep pushing and keep playing.”
Dickerson and the Reds will get their second look this season at Mike Pelfrey(notes) (6-4, 4.52), who won in Cincinnati on April 8 despite allowing four runs, five hits and four walks in five innings.
Pelfrey was hit even harder in his last outing, yielding five runs - four earned - and eight hits over three innings in an 8-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday.