The Pittsburgh Pirates' Ke'Bryan Hayes is a slick-fielding third baseman who has been a Gold Glove runner-up. Lately, his offense has been catching up, as the visiting New York Mets are discovering.
Even as every Pittsburgh starter had a hit in a 14-7 blowout of the Mets on Friday, Hayes stood out. He was 5-for-5, tying a career high for hits in a game, with four RBIs and three runs scored.
Hayes has an eight-game hitting streak, with two homers, three doubles and 11 RBIs. He has raised his batting average in that span from .216 to .266.
"Coming off that A's series, and refueling on an off day (Thursday), we just wanted to be aggressive and swing the bats," Hayes told ATT Sportsnet.
The 26-year-old Hayes said he has been "just getting myself in a better position to hit the ball, then being aggressive and trusting my athleticism. At the end of the day, having more confidence."
The Pirates ended a two-game losing streak, with both defeats coming in blowout fashion against the worst team in baseball, the Oakland Athletics.
The Mets had no such luck in erasing memories of recent games. Friday's lopsided loss -- they trailed 14-2 entering the ninth -- extended their losing streak to a season-worst seven games.
New York was just swept by the Braves, and Mets manager Buck Showalter was asked if his team had a hangover effect.
"Looked like it," Showalter said. "Didn't pitch well, and that usually does a lot of it. And made (two) errors. It is what it is."
The flavor of the games during the Mets' losing streak has been all over the place, with them being outscored 51-31 in the eight games.
Both teams got discouraging injury news Friday.
Mets slugger Pete Alonso went on the 10-day injured list because of a bone bruise and sprain of his left wrist, where he got hit by a pitch Wednesday. He's expected to be out three-to-four weeks, if not longer.
Things were even worse for Pittsburgh. Starter Vince Velasquez had season-ending elbow surgery after going on the injury list, trying to come back, and then going on the IL again.
On Saturday, New York right-hander Kodai Senga (5-3, 3.75 ERA) is expected to start opposite Pittsburgh right-hander Johan Oviedo (3-4, 4.29).
Senga, who has never faced the Pirates, might be happy to get onto a different schedule.
His last time out, Sunday against Toronto, Senga was pitching on four days' rest for the first time. He gave up four runs and four hits in 2 2/3 innings, with five walks and three strikeouts. He did not get a decision.
Senga, who pitched weekly in Japan, said through an interpreter that he felt fine physically, but "there were a lot of times when their lineup would be taking a lot of my off-speed offerings."
Oviedo seemed headed to victory his last time out, on Monday against Oakland, after giving up three runs, two earned, in seven innings, but he ended up without a decision in a seesaw game won by the Athletics 5-4.
Against the Mets, Oviedo has taken some lumps. He is 0-2 with a 10.24 ERA in three career starts covering just 9 2/3 innings.
--Field Level Media