Feldman sets the pace as Cubs beat Mets
Righty fans six over seven frames, drives in game's first two runs
NEW YORK -- Before the Cubs' game against the Mets on Saturday, manager Dale Sveum discussed something he hasn't done this season but isn't against trying. He has a couple of pitchers on the roster who he says can swing the bat so well that they could be used as pinch-hitters.
Sveum mentioned Scott Feldman -- who entered the game with five hits in 26 at-bats -- as one of those pitchers. About three hours later, Feldman backed up his manager's assertion.
"I just stuck the bat out there, and got a couple runs," Feldman said.
Feldman hit a two-run single off Jonathon Niese in the fourth inning, giving the Cubs an early lead for the second straight day. His contribution at the plate was the only run support he got while he was in the game. In one of his best starts of the season, Feldman struck out six over seven innings of one-run ball to lead Chicago to a 5-2 win over the Mets at Citi Field in front of 27,004.
Feldman allowed only two hits and one walk.
Chicago scored three more runs after Sveum took Feldman out of the game, but it was the right-hander who set the tone for the Cubs.
Niese walked Anthony Rizzo and Scott Hairston to start the fourth. With two outs, Feldman drove them in with a single to center. Feldman now has eight RBIs this season, the most of any pitcher in baseball.
He continued to help out offensively by going from first to third on a single by Darwin Barney, making a head-first slide and eluding the tag by Mets third baseman David Wright.
Feldman said it was the first time he's had to slide like that since college. Sveum, though, said it was good that he slid head first and not feet first, considering Feldman has a history of knee issues.
"I was cringing like, 'Why are you going to third? You're the starting pitcher and you have a bad knee,'" Sveum said. "That's what I was thinking as he was running to third."
Like Edwin Jackson did on Friday, Feldman had success against the Mets' listless lineup. New York threatened to break out for more runs than they got, but had trouble putting a dent in Feldman.
"[Feldman's] been tough on us [in both of] his starts this year," Wright said. "In Chicago, he shut us down. Today, he shut us down and got some hits. He knows how to pitch."
Daniel Murphy opened up the bottom of the fourth with a double and stole third. Wright knocked him in with a double of his own. But Feldman retired the next 12 Mets hitters after that to secure Chicago's lead.
Wright nearly ruined that in the sixth. He hit a long fly ball to deep left field, prompting Mets fans to begin getting out of their seats to cheer. But Alfonso Soriano tracked it down and caught it at the wall. Feldman said as soon as he threw that pitch to Wright, he wished he could have it back.
But he breathed a sigh of relief when he saw it fall into Soriano's glove and not become a game-tying home run.
"It seemed like [our outfielders] were running down balls all over the outfield today for me," Feldman said, "which was pretty helpful."
New York tacked on one more run on Jordany Valdespin's RBI single off Carlos Villanueva in the eighth inning.
By the time the Cubs' offense put together a big inning, Feldman was out of the game. Chicago scored three runs in the eighth, with the biggest hit being a two-run, ground-rule double by shortstop Starlin Castro.
It was yet another big inning for the Cubs in this series, after having a four-run second inning on Friday.
"I think we're just getting better swings in fastball counts and hitters' counts," Sveum said. "I think we're taking advantage of those right now, and we haven't in a long piece of the season."
With the way Feldman pitched, though, the Cubs didn't really need many more runs. This was his second-best start of the season, nearly matching his seven-inning, two-hit, scoreless effort against the Rangers on May 6.
"His cutter seems to be harder, and it seems like [it has] a few more inches of movement," Sveum said. "He's able to stick to the game plan so well, he can pitch down and away to stay away from slugging -- which he did very well for the most part."
After spending most of his career in the American League, Feldman said he enjoys being able to hit now that he's in the National League. He said it feels more like baseball, just like it did when he was a little kid.
Pinch-hitting, though, might not be in his future.
"I don't know," Feldman said with a laugh. "I may be fourth or fifth on the depth chart with that. Maybe pinch-runner."