To avoid such frustration Friday night, Cora left Nildamarie at home and joined Mike Pelfrey on the steps of the Mets' dugout at Citi Field and imparted to his heart's content. "We had a good talk," he said Saturday, which is to say, Pelfrey was an attentive audience.
"I just told him, when you throw 95 [mph] with movement, it's tough to hit him," Cora said.
The Mets believe Pelfrey needs to hear that kind of encouragement -- or at least be reminded of his gifts. And Cora, a veteran presence regardless of his disabled list assignment, put it on himself to be the reminder. "Sometimes, when Mike gets in trouble," Cora said, "he forgets who he is and how good he can be."
Pelfrey will start against the Cubs on Sunday in the third and final game of the series. He will pitch for the first time since the Rockies beat him up -- six hits, five walks and seven runs in four innings Tuesday in Denver -- and since he battered himself.
"I read the guy's quotes," Cora said. "When a guy says, 'I stink,' and, 'I feel sorry for my teammates,' I figure he's not being as positive as he needs to be."
So Cora steps in.
"He has so much going for him. I told him he's got five more starts, and he's good enough to win all five. That puts him at 14 wins. A lot of guys in this league want to win 14 games. 'Ninety-five [mph] with movement. Just throw pitches and get outs. You don't need to worry about strikeouts; get outs. Pitch to contact. Keep your pitches down and get to seven innings. This quality start thing [six innings and three or fewer runs allowed] isn't what you want. Go seven. Beat somebody.' I think he was listening."Pitching matchup
NYM: RHP Mike Pelfrey (9-10, 5.03 ERA)
Pelfrey has taken a step back in his two most recent starts, losing both. More importantly, he developed serious control issues. He has walked five batters twice this season -- Aug. 26 against the Marlins and Tuesday against the Rockies. He allowed seven runs -- six earned -- on six hits and five walks at Coors Field on Tuesday, walking two batters after getting ahead 0-2, and walking three men in the first inning to produce a run. Manager Jerry Manuel has attributed the struggles to youth, but he also has emphasized that Pelfrey needs to show he can bounce back and deliver again to avoid concerns about his security in the Mets' rotation in 2010. Pelfrey has never pitched against the Cubs. He has a 5-3 record and 3.80 ERA in 14 starts at Citi Field.
CHC: RHP Randy Wells (10-7, 2.90 ERA)
Wells finally gained his 10th victory in his most recent start, against the Astros on Tuesday at Wrigley Field, to become the first Cubs rookie to reach double-digit victories since 1998, when Kerry Wood won 13 games. Wells allowed one unearned run on seven hits and struck out four in 6 2/3 innings. It was his sixth victory in his past nine starts. The Cubs want to be careful with Wells and his innings. He has already exceeded his personal high in the Minor Leagues and has thrown six or more innings in four consecutive starts. Drafted by the Mets in 2001 -- he didn't sign -- Wells has never faced the Mets.
Carlos Beltran played nine innings in center field for Class A Brooklyn on Saturday night. His one hit in five at-bats drove in the winning run in the ninth in a 4-3 Cyclones victory. He is expected to play all nine innings in Sunday's regular-season finale vs. Lowell at 5 p.m. ET. ... John Maine made his first rehab start for St. Lucie vs. the Palm Beach Cardinals in the Class A Florida State League. Maine allowed two hits and one walk over four shutout innings, striking out six. He threw 58 pitches, 40 for strikes. ... The Mets struck out 13 times Saturday. Their first three hitters -- Angel Pagan, Luis Castillo and David Wright -- struck out three times each. Wright has struck out six times in the first two games of the series and 113 times season. His career high is 118, established last season. Castillo entered Saturday with the fifth-lowest strikeout rate in the National League -- 10.7 plate appearances per strikeout. He struck out four times in July (76 at-bats) but has struck out 26 times since then. ... Josh Thole threw out would-be base stealer Kosuke Fukudome, the only runner to attempt a steal against him in his first 18 innings in the big leagues.
This date in Mets' history, Sept. 6: The bottom of the batting order overwhelmed the Phillies in a 3-0 victory at Shea Stadium in 1969. No. 7 hitter Jerry Grote hit a solo home run, No. 8 hitter Buddy Harrelson had three hits and scored twice and Tug McGraw, who pitched the last three innings in relief of winning pitcher Don Cardwell, singled for one of his 18 career RBIs. The three combined for 12 putouts and six assists. ... A not-so-grand experiment blew up in the Mets' faces in 1990. Having lost their hold on first place in the National League East because of three consecutive losses, two of them to the first-place Pirates, the Mets had Julio Valera make his second big league start in the third game of the series in Pittsburgh. Valera allowed five runs in the first three innings. The Mets scored one run, their second run in four games, and lost, 7-1, to fall 3 1/2 games from first.
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Tuesday: Mets (Tim Redding, 2-4, 5.70) vs. Marlins (Rick VandenHurk, 2-2, 4.91), 7:10 p.m. ET
Wednesday: Mets (Pat Misch, 1-1, 3.25) vs. Marlins (Ricky Nolasco, 10-8, 5.27), 7:10 p.m. ET
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.