The Mets and Giants find themselves in similar positions going into the second half of the 2010 season. Both teams are in contention but need their starting pitchers to shine. Two of them, New York left-hander Jon Niese and San Francisco southpaw Barry Zito, will be looking to accomplish that when they face off in Friday night's game at AT&T Park.
Niese might need only to pitch the way he did in his last start, even though that July 7 effort against the Reds ended up in a loss. Niese was superb, going 7 2/3 innings, striking out eight batters and giving up three runs on six hits. Unfortunately for him, the Mets only scored one run.
Still, the big picture reveals that the Mets have a promising young starter on their hands. Niese pitched his sixth quality start in seven tries since returning from the disabled list last month, and the only exception came at home against the Tigers, when Niese attempted to return following a nearly one-hour rain delay.
"I feel great," Niese said. "I'm 100 percent right now. Hopefully in the second half, it stays that way."
The Giants will hope for similar confidence from their veteran, Zito, who got off to a great start this year but has tailed off a bit in recent weeks.
In fact, Zito's seven wins are the most he's notched prior to an All-Star break since he had eight in 2006 with Oakland. But in his last outing, July 8 against the Brewers, he took a third consecutive no-decision after allowing two runs on seven hits and six walks in 4 2/3 innings.
Niese has never faced the Giants, and Zito is 2-2 with a 4.28 ERA in five career starts against the Mets. Zito has logged two quality starts against New York, but none in his last three games.
Mets: Wright still rolling
Even after an 0-for-4 night against Tim Lincecum and the Giants in the Mets' 2-0 loss Thursday night, third baseman David Wright is putting up huge numbers. He has 43 RBIs in his last 52 games dating back to May 15. He also needs three RBIs to tie Howard Johnson for third place on the club's all-time list with 629, and his next home run will move him into sole possession of fourth place on the Mets' all-time list with 155, one ahead of Dave Kingman. ... Lefty Oliver Perez will make his fourth rehab start and second with Triple-A Buffalo on Saturday vs. the Gwinnett Braves. Perez is 1-1 with a 3.24 ERA in three rehab starts, allowing two home runs in 16 2/3 innings, walking nine and striking out 17.
Giants: Ishikawa getting valuable time
First baseman Travis Ishikawa started seven of San Francisco's 11 games during its last road trip after just two starts all season before that. In seven starts on the trip, he hit safely in every game while batting .423 (11-for-26) with a homer and 10 RBIs. Ishikawa also started Thursday's series opener back home, although he went 0-for-4 against the Mets. ... Infielder Edgar Renteria has gone 5-for-14 in his last five games after having three hits in his previous 29 at-bats.
Since June 20, the Mets have stolen 18 bases and been caught four times. They are second in the Majors with 85 stolen bases. ... Mets first baseman Ike Davis' 11 home runs are tied with Benny Agbayani (1999) for the second-most by a Mets rookie prior to the All-Star break. Ron Swoboda had 15 before the Midsummer Classic in 1965. ... Lefty Dontrelle Willis signed a Triple-A contract with the Giants and will report Monday. Born in nearby Oakland, the 28-year-old has split 2010 with Detroit and Arizona, combining for a 2-3 record and 5.62 ERA in 15 games (13 starts). ... Giants relievers finished the first half with a 1.96 home ERA (25 earned runs in 114 2/3 innings).
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.