NEW YORK -- Before he sprained a ligament in his right foot, Orlando Hernandez had been the Mets' most consistent starting pitcher. The injury took hold in a loss to the Phillies on Aug. 30. But El Duque wasn't involved in the decision. So when he starts against the Braves on Tuesday night, his winning streak, five games, will still be intact.
If Hernandez beats the Braves, he'll extend another streak. The rotation has been responsible for each of the Mets' 10 most recent victories. That hardly qualifies as a momentous achievement given that it is also responsible for four losses during the same 16-game sequence, but it does suggest that the team is playing better earlier in games and not waiting for the last two innings, as had been the case during much of July and August.
The rotation has hardly been flawless since the last time a reliever won -- Billy Wagner was the winning pitcher on Aug. 21, when the Mets beat Padres closer Trevor Hoffman. But starters winning 10 straight decisions is uncommon. The Mets starters hadn't done it since an 18-game sequence in 2005.
In the chart below, notice the run support and the number of games in which the Mets allowed none or just one run in both streaks.
Delgado mending: Carlos Delgado said he felt "about the same," six days after straining his right hip flexor in a game in Cincinnati. Manager Willie Randolph didn't expect to have his first baseman back in the lineup on this homestand, which runs until Sunday -- even though initial estimates pegged the injury as taking just seven to 10 days to heal.
"I want to have a positive attitude," Delgado said. "But I don't want to trick myself into doing anything really stupid, which is going out there when you're not ready."
An unwanted memory: The Mets were in Pittsburgh on Sept. 11, 2001. Ex-Met Joe McEwing opened the curtains in his room at the Doubletree Hotel at 9:30 a.m. ET. He saw soldiers carrying M-16s outside the federal building across the street. He turned on the television in his room. And he cried.
|May 18||Reds||10-6||Tom Glavine|
|May 21||Yankees||7-1||Kris Benson|
|May26 ||Marlins||12-4||Kris Benson|
|May 27||Marlins||1-0||Pedro Martinez|
|May 28||Marlins||6-1||Kaz Ishii|
|June 1||D-backs||2-1||Victor Zambrano|
|June 2||D-backs||6-1||Pedro Martinez|
|June 4||Giants||5-1||Tom Glavine|
|June 5||Giants||12-1||Kris Benson|
|June 7||Astros||3-1||Pedro Martinez|
|Aug. 24||Dodgers||5-2||Oliver Perez|
|Aug. 25||Dodgers||4-3||Orlando Hernandez|
|Aug. 31||Braves||7-1||John Maine|
|Sept. 1||Braves||5-1||Mike Pelfrey|
|Sept. 2||Braves||3-2||Tom Glavine|
|Sept. 3||Reds||10-4||Pedro Martinez|
|Sept. 4||Reds||11-7||Oliver Perez|
|Sept. 7||Astros||11-3||Mike Pelfrey|
|Sept. 8||Astros||3-1||Tom Glavine|
|Sept. 9||Astros||4-1||Pedro Martinez|
This date in Mets history -- Sept. 11: Gary Gentry pitched a six-hitter against the Expos in a 4-0 victory at Shea Stadium on this date in 1969. The victory was the seventh straight and the first of three consecutive shutouts for the first-place Mets, who, remarkably, pitched 17 shutouts in their past 60 games that season, never going more than eight games without one in that two-month span.
Jerry Koosman surrendered a two-run home run to Ken Reitz to tie the score with two outs in the ninth inning, and the Mets and Cardinals went on to play 25 innings at Shea on this date (and Sept. 12) in 1974. The game ended at 3:13 a.m. Bake McBride scored the winning run from first base when Hank Webb made an errant pickoff throw. It was the third-longest night game in big league history -- seven hours and four minutes -- and the longest one to end in a decision. Fifty players participated; only Wayne Garrett went hitless, and he had at least 10 at-bats. The Mets had 89 at-bats. (The Yankees and Orioles played 26 innings in Baltimore that night, but that was a doubleheader.)
On this date in 1987, Howard Johnson stole his 30th base of the season to become the eighth player in history and the first in Mets history to have 30 steals and 30 home runs in the same season. Darryl Strawberry became the second Met three days later. ... John Olerud became the seventh of nine Mets to hit for the cycle in a 9-5 victory against the Expos at Shea on this date in 1997. Hardly fleet afoot, Olerud saved the triple for last.
Coming up: The second game of the final Mets-Braves series this season will take place on Tuesday night at 7:10 ET. El Duque (9-4, 3.32 ERA) will start for the first time since Aug. 30, opposite Buddy Carlyle (8-6, 5.21).
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. Associate reporter Anthony DiComo contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.