Mets pitchers showing prowess at the plate

Mets pitchers showing prowess at the plate

NEW YORK -- The Mets entered Wednesday's play boasting a notable accomplishment: their starting pitchers were riding a four-game hitting streak, going 4-for-8 with two walks, two RBIs and two successful sacrifice bunts over that stretch. Over their past 15 games, Mets starting pitchers had gone a rather remarkable 11-for-31 (.355) with six walks and five RBIs.

"Other than the fact that we practice it a lot, I don't know what's going on," said right-hander Dillon Gee, who is leading the charge with two hits and two walks in his last four plate appearances. "Everybody on this staff though takes pride in it."

Though the pitchers do not work regularly with hitting coach Dave Hudgens, most of them take batting practice four or five times per week. Partially as a result of that, the Mets now rank third in baseball with a .161 pitchers' batting average, trailing only the Nationals and Reds.

"I feel like we're raking," Gee said.

"You're absolutely raking," chimed in reliever Jeremy Hefner from the next locker down.

For some of them, it is a friendly competition -- Jon Niese, for example, has a running bet with third baseman David Wright that he will hit over .200 for the season. (Niese currently leads Mets pitchers with a .217 average.) For others, it is simply a point of pride.

"When I go take BP, I usually take it with a purpose," Gee said. "But a lot of it, too, is we get pitched a lot differently. As long as you're up there swinging, most of the time you're going to get three or four fastballs in an at-bat. We don't have to worry about too many breaking balls."

"You've got the top of the lineup coming up, so it makes a big difference when that pitcher ... gets a hit," manager Terry Collins said. "When he's on base and the top of the lineup's coming up, you can create a lot of runs. In the American League, that ninth hitter is a guy that can swing the bat pretty good. When our pitchers are swinging the bat, it's a different lineup."

Most around the clubhouse consider R.A. Dickey the staff's best hitter, due to his athleticism and ability to make contact. And indeed, Dickey has just three strikeouts in 40 plate appearances this season -- but the knuckleballer also has not recorded an extra-base hit since 2010.

"He's a good hitter, but he won't hit with any slugging like me," quipped Gee, who has two extra-base hits on the season. "I hit doubles."