Reds-Mets Preview

The Cincinnati Reds are surging behind Brandon Phillips, and the

New York Mets – specifically Jason Bay – are hurting.

Phillips looks to continue his red-hot hitting and lead the Reds

to a fifth straight win while the Mets may again be without Bay for

an extended period starting Saturday night at Citi Field.

Phillips is 11 for 22 with three homers and nine RBIs in the

past five games, as Cincinnati (36-27) has won four in a row to

open up a four-game lead atop the NL Central.

The second baseman homered for a third consecutive contest

Friday, connecting on a two-run shot to power a 7-3 win over New

York (35-30).

The Mets’ loss may have been compounded when Bay left in the

second inning with a possible concussion. The left fielder was hurt

when he crashed into the left-field wall trying to catch Jay

Bruce’s inside-the-park homer.

He’s expected to go on the disabled list Saturday, the latest

setback for a player who has been an injury-plagued disappointment

in New York since signing a $66 million, four-year contract before

the 2010 season.

Bay missed the final two months that season because of a

concussion he sustained while slamming into the left-field fence to

make a catch at Dodger Stadium.

“It’s a combination of the way he hustles, and bad luck. You

feel for him. You know the way he’s worked to overcome some of

these injuries,” third baseman David Wright said. “Obviously, with

the head injury, you know you’ve got to be very careful.”

Bay is batting .187 with four home runs and six RBIs. He was on

the disabled list from April 24 until June 6 with a broken rib and

is 2 for 25 since being activated.

Scott Hairston will likely step in with Bay out. He hit his

sixth homer in his past 14 games Friday after replacing Bay.

Giving the ball to Jonathon Niese (4-2, 3.69 ERA) may help the

Mets bounce back since he’s 2-0 with a 1.75 ERA and 28 strikeouts

in 25 2-3 innings over his past four starts. The left-hander has

been even better in the last two, allowing only two unearned

runs.

Niese didn’t get much help in Sunday’s 5-4 road loss to the New

York Yankees, as he left after the seventh with a one-run lead only

to watch three relievers allow three runs in the last two innings.

He cruised through six before a seventh-inning error by Wright was

followed by a two-run homer.

Niese is 1-1 with a 5.79 ERA in three starts against Cincinnati,

allowing five homers in 18 2-3 innings. Two of those have come off

the bat of Phillips, who’s 5 for 10 in their matchups.

The Reds counter with Homer Bailey (4-4, 4.35), whose last three

road starts have resulted in Cincinnati victories. The right-hander

is 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA in that stretch.

Bailey’s last two games ended in Reds home defeats, while he’s

0-1 with an 8.38 ERA. He allowed three runs and struck out seven in

6 2-3 innings Sunday against Detroit, leaving with a 6-3 lead

before the bullpen allowed four runs in the eighth.

Bailey struggled greatly in two starts against the Mets last

season, surrendering 13 runs and 21 hits over nine innings.