New York (51-51) at Cincinnati (50-52)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Cincinnati, OH
Temp: 70° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Tue Jul 26, 2011
  • TV: SNY, FSOH
Preview | Box Score | Recap

With the non-waiver trade deadline drawing near, Carlos Beltran’s(notes) days in a New York Mets uniform appear numbered.

Manager Terry Collins, though, is hoping proven veterans David Wright(notes) and Jason Isringhausen(notes) continue to help the team through this uncertain time.

The Mets try for back-to-back wins at Great American Ball Park, where they continue a four-game set with the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.

Beltran’s sacrifice fly started New York’s four-run, seventh-inning rally before Isringhausen recorded his third save in as many chances since taking over as closer to seal a 4-2 series-opening win over Cincinnati (50-52) on Monday.

Despite the victory, Collins’ club is 13 1/2 games behind NL East-leading Philadelphia. With the Mets (51-51) a long shot to reach the postseason, they are all but certain to move the high-priced Beltran before Sunday’s deadline.

“I think the first thing I have to do, if there’s a trade, is see how the team reacts to it,” Collins said. “I want to see how they deal with it, what their conversations are about. I have to get a feel for that.”

While Isringhausen has shined since Francisco Rodriguez was dealt to Milwaukee, Wright has also come up big of late. The five-time All-Star third baseman has gone 8 for 19 with one homer and six RBIs in four games since missing more than two months with a stress fracture in his lower back.

“This is where you really need their experience because they’ve been through this,” Collins told the team’s official website. “They can take some of those young players off to the side and say, ‘Hey, listen, you can’t let this bother you.”

Wright will look to extend his hitting streak to five games versus the red-hot Johnny Cueto(notes) (6-3, 1.98 ERA), who ranks second in the majors in ERA among pitchers with at least 90 innings.

Cueto has held opponents to two or fewer runs eight times during his run of 11 consecutive quality starts - the longest single-season stretch for a Reds pitcher since Bronson Arroyo(notes) posted 13 in a row July 28-Sept. 30, 2009.

“This has been the best (stretch) I have had in my career,” he said.

Cueto improved to 4-1 and lowered his ERA to 1.77 over his eight most recent outings by limiting the Pirates to one run and four hits in six innings of Wednesday’s 3-1 road win.

While the Dominican Republic native has thrived of late, he’s struggled immensely over four career starts against the Mets, going 0-2 with an 8.14 ERA - his highest mark versus any NL club.

Wright and Beltran have each homered versus Cueto and are a combined 6 for 16 against him. In contrast, Jose Reyes(notes) and Jason Bay(notes) are a combined 3 for 18 (.166) off the right-hander.

New York counters with Jonathon Niese(notes) (9-8, 3.76), who wasn’t sharp during Thursday’s 6-2 loss to St. Louis, yielding five runs - three earned - over six innings.

The left-hander is likely looking forward to getting back on the road, where he’s surrendered just eight runs over his last 26 2-3 innings while winning a career-high four consecutive starts. He gave up four runs and a career-worst 12 hits in six frames during a 5-4, 10-inning loss to the Reds on May 5 last year - his only career appearance in Cincinnati.

Niese has been challenged by Brandon Phillips(notes), who is 4 for 7 with two homers and one double against him.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Niese NYM vs. J. Cueto Cin
11-11 Record 9-5
4.40 ERA 2.31
138 K 104
44 BB 47
1.41 WHIP 1.09

Scoreboard

Tuesday, Jul 26