NEW YORK -- For the first time in nearly a month, Jason Bay started in left field Tuesday against a right-handed pitcher.
The decision was based upon more than a hunch. Following a meeting with his coaching staff earlier in the day, Mets manager Terry Collins decided to back R.A. Dickey with his best defensive outfield in an effort to help Dickey pursue 20 wins and the National League Cy Young Award. That meant replacing regular left fielder Lucas Duda's power bat with Bay's superior speed and glove.
"No disrespect to Lucas, because he's done very well out there, he's played very well out there, but we have a guy who is an outstanding left fielder," Collins said of Bay. "If there's a ball hit out there that could lead to a decision-making play, I want to make sure our best guy is there."
Collins said that similar strategies will come into play for each of Dickey's starts down the stretch, knowing how critical every outing will be to his Cy chances. The knuckleballer entered Tuesday's play leading the NL with a 2.64 ERA, five complete games and three shutouts, ranking second with 18 wins and tied for sixth with 195 strikeouts.