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Banner Day for Mets in Second shutout of Padres: 2-0

Mike Baxter. Photo by: Stacy Podelski

It was a banner day for the New York Mets (27-21) was able to blank the San Diego Padres (17-32) for the second time this season, finishing up a beautiful day in MLB action by a final of 2-0. New York recorded their fourth shutout of the season, while also having their first back-to-back blanking’s since beating Washington in May.

“These guys expect to win,” Terry Collins said of the various ways the team has been winning as of late. “When they take the field they think they can beat you. That means a lot, when you have confidence it makes a world of difference. They don’t let the bad at-bats get to them, and they don’t get too high after victories and that is why they have been playing the way they have been.”

On the starting pitching he has gotten lately, Collins had this to say, “Starting pitching is what the game is all about. The game is about that guy on that bump giving you quality innings and keeping you in games.” Collins continued by saying, “We have done that so far and we need to continue to do that.”

The franchise bringing back a long-time tradition in Banner Day, also received a banner performance from R.A. Dickey, who held the Padres scoreless for 7.1 innings today to win his major league high-tying seventh game of the season. The victory stretched Dickey’s winning streak to five games, dating back to April 25, and the Mets have now won R.A.’s last seven starts.

 When asked about his duo of Dickey and Johan Santana, Terry Collins had this to say in the pre-game press conference, “They have pitched very well for us, for R.A. his start in Atlanta every start has been very good. Like any team when you go out and you know that you’re starting pitching is going to keep you in the game, they relax and play much better.”

Dickey was able to sit down 10 batters today, which was his second consecutive double-digit strikeout game; to become the first Mets pitcher to fan double-digits since 2006-when Pedro Martinez accomplished the feat. R.A. has fanned 29 batters over his last three starts, which is the highest three-start total of his career.

New York didn’t need much offensively to beat the Padres, as the team finished up with five hits. It was the early offense that was the key for the Mets, who have scored in the first or second inning in nine of their last 10 games (18 runs total).

Helping to set the table for the Mets, was Mike Baxter who led off for the fourth time this season-finishing the game with a 1-for-4 day at the dish with a double and run scored. Baxter has scored once in every game when he has served as a leadoff hitter.

“Baxter just keeps giving us quality at-bats,” Collins said. “He has just been making good contact with the ball during each of his at-bats, he has done such a good job pinch hitting, when he does get a day in the regular line-up he goes back to what he does best and that is making contact.”

Justin Turner continues to swing a good stick, now hitting in four straight, while also having multiple hits in consecutive games after going 2-for-3. Turner is hitting .545 (6-for-11) during this run. Daniel Murphy also continues to come up clutch for the Mets, driving in a run with his single in the first inning.

Now things get a bit tougher for Terry Collins and his crew as they have a three game set with National League East-rival the Philadelphia Phillies starting on Monday. It will be a battle of lefties as Jon Niese (3-2, 4.29 ERA) takes on Cole Hamels (7-1, 2.17 ERA).

Niese recorded a win and a quality start in the Mets 3-1 victory at Pittsburgh on May 23, pitching a season-high 7.2 innings, allowing one run, striking out five batters. In his last start versus the Phillies, Niese received a no-decision in the Mets’ 5-2 victory at Citizens Bank Park.

“It is going to be a tough assignment tomorrow with Cole (Hamels) on the mound, but I know that Jon Niese will go out there and do what the other guy will and that is throw up zeroes,” Collins said.

The Mets/Phillies game is set to air on the SNY network, with first pitch slated for 1:10 p.m.

Congrats to Olivia Nuzzo and Stephanie Giangrande on your Banner Day victory: Brooklyn-natives and cousins Olivia Nuzzo and Stephanie Giangrande were the winners of the inaugural Banner Day at Citi Field, with their Mike Piazza homer on the first Mets game after 9/11 inspired sign.

Brooklyn-natives Olivia Nuzzo and Stephanie Giangrande with their New York Mets first game after 9/11, Mike Piazza homer inspired sign, won the 2012 Banner Day at Citi Field. Photo by: Stacy Podelski

“It was a joint idea, we always try to do something fun together,” said Nuzzo in the special press conference the Mets had for the Banner Day victors. “We wanted to keep in the spirit of Memorial Day and Fleet Week, and there was nothing more Patriotic moment in Mets history then that Mike Piazza home run.”

Both ladies were in High School when that magical moment happened, but were still inspired but not only it-but the man itself.

“I was watching it on YouTube and it gave me chills,” Nuzzo said. On the banner itself “We drew some stuff up and we were very excited about Piazza’s hair, it was huge-planning the hair and how to do it. We had to get yarn and to do the highlights it was good.”

Giangrande had this to say on the Piazza moment, “It was a moment that made you laugh, it made you cry and it made you smile and anytime I watch it-it gave me chills.” Stephanie continued by saying, “It was something that brought New Yorkers together.”

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