Jay Bruce is on a tear, and his recent results against the New York Mets could be described the same way.
A day after his home run proved to be the difference, Bruce looks to continue pounding the Mets as the Cincinnati Reds attempt to extend their dominance at Citi Field on Tuesday night.
Bruce, a career .257 hitter, is on an 11-game hitting streak. The right fielder owns a .400 average with five homers, seven doubles and 14 RBIs in that stretch.
He's also approaching his career-high 13-game hit streak set as a rookie July 27-Aug. 9, 2008.
Bruce has been just as effective against the Mets of late, going 10 for 27 (.370) with five homers, four doubles and 11 RBIs in the last seven meetings. He has two hits in each of the last four matchups, with three homers, four doubles and seven runs in that span.
Bruce was at it again Monday, hitting a go-ahead shot as Cincinnati (27-18) took the opener of this three-game set 4-3, its eighth win in 10 games at Citi Field.
Baker is expected to turn to Mike Leake (3-2, 3.72 ERA), who remains in the rotation despite Johnny Cueto's return from the disabled list Monday.
Leake's latest effort was his best of the season, as the right-hander scattered nine hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-0 win at Miami on Wednesday. He had lost two of his previous three outings with a 5.17 ERA.
"He's doing better than some of the guys on our staff," Baker said of the possibility of Leake losing his rotation spot. "I don't understand why it was coming down between him and somebody else anyway. Leake has pitched well. It shouldn't have been thought of."
Leake has posted a 1.65 ERA in four starts versus the Mets, but is just 1-1 in those games as he received two or fewer runs of support in three of them.
He didn't need much help at home against New York on Aug. 15, tossing a four-hitter in a 6-1 victory. Leake has limited David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis to a combined 3 for 28.
Davis hasn't posed a threat to anyone this season, as his .152 average is third-worst in the major leagues.
The first baseman has been particularly bad over the past nine games, going 1 for 33 with 13 strikeouts. He's 6 for 30 with two RBIs in nine career home meetings with Cincinnati.
New York has dropped four in a row and nine of 11 at home, averaging 2.2 runs in that span.
Jonathon Niese (3-4, 5.40) will try to build on his longest start of the season. The left-hander yielded two runs in 7 1-3 innings of a 5-2 win at St. Louis on Thursday, ending the Mets' season high-tying six-game losing streak. He had allowed 15 runs in 8 1-3 innings over his previous two starts.
Niese has gone 1-2 with a 5.61 ERA while giving up six homers in four starts against the Reds, losing both home outings.
One of those came June 16, a 4-1 defeat in which he allowed a three-run first-inning homer to Bruce before surrendering another run and leaving after the seventh.
The Mets' Marlon Byrd has gone 6 for 16 (.375) with two homers and six RBIs over his last six games.