PITTSBURGH -- Through all their injuries, all their bullpen blowups and all the chaos surrounding their ownership situation, the Mets can get back to .500 tonight if they beat the Pirates here in PNC Park. Manager Terry Collins is putting Jason Bay back in the lineup after two days off to clear his head from an 0-for-23 slump that has left the $66 million man with a .207 batting average, and is also giving Justin Turner a night off as he seems to be wearing down with everyday duty, batting just .195 in the last 10 games.
Even without David Wright and Ike Davis, without any contribution from Bay and suddenly without much from Turner, the Mets keep rolling along offensively. Here's some believe-it-or-not facts about the Amazins heading into tonight's game.
---Since May 22, the Mets have a .296 team batting average that leads the major leagues, a .299 average with runners in scoring position that's third and a .347 on-base percentage that's fifth.
---Since May 20, Daniel Murphy leads the big leagues with a .403 batting average and Jose Reyes, who turns 28 today, is second at .395. Reyes leads the big leagues with 89 hits and is just the third player in the last 80 years with 11 triples within his team's first 60 games. The others were Rod Carew of the 1977 Twins and Curtis Granderson of the 2007 Tigers.
---Since returning from the disabled list on May 27, Angel Pagan is batting .351. He was hitting .159 in his first 19 games before going on the DL.
---The Mets had a five-run inning for the third time in a week in Friday's 8-1 victory here.
The mini-controversy of the day -- there's always one when you're dealing with New York and the Big Apple's voracious media -- concerns Bay's absence the last two days. Former Mets hitting coach Howard Johnson criticized that approach in today's New York Post. Said Johnson: "I don't care if he's 0-for-50, you're not going to get him relaxed by taking him out of the lineup."
Responded Collins: "As soon as I showed up at the ballpark today, I was slapped in the face with Howard Johnson telling us we should play [Bay] and not bench him. I don’t really call it a benching. I would call it more of a time off kind of thing. I think the world of Howard Johnson, but he hasn’t got all the facts. So he should be careful what he actually says when he doesn’t have all the facts.”