DETROIT (AP) — Ronny Paulino in the cleanup spot? Scott Hairston up with the bases loaded?
No matter who is batting, the New York Mets are a good bet to score these days.
Paulino and Angel Pagan had four hits apiece, and Hairston launched a three-run triple as part of another offensive barrage by the Mets, who beat the Detroit Tigers 16-9 on Wednesday night.
The Mets set a team record by scoring 52 runs in a four-game span. They have 69 hits during their spree.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Pagan said. “Obviously, right now, this is the best baseball we’ve played.”
Tigers utilityman Don Kelly got the final out, becoming the first Detroit position player to pitch since 2000. Smiling and laughing, Justin Verlander high-fived Kelly in the dugout — now the Detroit ace will try to stop the Mets on Thursday afternoon.
“I told Donnie to warm up in the cage in the eighth, just in case I needed him,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “I told him that if I went out there, wait a little while and then come out.”
Kelly was the only Detroit pitcher who didn’t give up a run.
Miguel Cabrera hit two of Detroit’s five homers. The Mets romped despite not hitting any home runs.
Winner Chris Capuano (7-7) went five-plus innings, giving up five runs and six hits. An apparent mixup later left reliever Tim Byrdak being summoned, even though he wasn’t warming up — he scrambled to grab his glove off a bullpen shelf, gave up a two-run homer to the only batter he faced, and stormed into the dugout.
Phil Coke (1-8) allowed seven earned runs and 10 hits in four-plus innings.
A night after New York hit two grand slams, Hairston cleared the bases a different way in the first inning with a flyball to right-center that fell in to give the Mets a 4-0 lead.
The Mets scored at least 14 runs for the third time in four games, including Tuesday night’s 14-3 victory over Detroit. It was another football score Wednesday.
The Mets scored 50 runs in four games from June 12-15, 1990, according to STATS, LLC. It was the first time since 2007 a team won despite being outhomered by at least five, according to STATS — Tampa Bay beat the Orioles 15-8 on Aug. 28 of that year, despite hitting only one home run to Baltimore’s six.
The Tigers fell into a virtual tie for first place in the AL Central with Cleveland.
Paulino was hitting in the cleanup spot for the first time this season. Manager Terry Collins said he didn’t want to put Jason Bay there because he’s hitting well lately elsewhere in the lineup.
“Fun — especially when everybody’s hot,” Paulino said.
Bay, batting one spot behind Paulino, had a single and four walks.
Jose Reyes was again a catalyst for the Mets. He led off the first with a single and took second when Cabrera mishandled a pickoff throw for an error. Reyes stole third — his 30th steal of the season — and scored on a wild pitch by Coke that bounced over the screen behind the plate.
New York loaded the bases later in the inning, and Hairston drove in three more runs with his triple.
Pagan made it 5-0 with an RBI single in the third, his second straight hit to start the game after reaching base in all five plate appearances Tuesday night.
Pagan’s streak of reaching base ended at seven. Reyes hit into a double play in the fourth after a second-inning single extended his streak of reaching base to eight plate appearances.
Ryan Raburn hit a solo homer for Detroit in the third, and Cabrera added another in the fourth.
New York answered with three more runs in the fifth. Paulino’s RBI double knocked Coke out of the game. Ryan Perry came on in relief and allowed a run-scoring single to Bay — and another run came home on that play on an error by Austin Jackson in center field.
Cabrera made it 8-5 with a three-run homer in the sixth, a 445-foot shot that reached the second level of ivy beyond the fence in left-center. It was his 17th homer of the season, and Jhonny Peralta hit his 13th of the year later that inning to pull the Tigers within two.
Daniel Murphy hit a bases-loaded single in the seventh, scoring two more runs to make it 10-6.
In the bottom of the inning, the Mets changed pitchers. Bobby Parnell, the only man warming up, headed toward the mound, but New York was actually calling for Byrdak, who wasn’t warming at the time.
Andy Dirks hit a pinch-hit homer with a runner on, making it 10-8.
“Bobby started heading out,” Byrdak said. “Then they were really adamant about really having a lefty come in. … The look on Bobby’s face as I passed him on the warning track was priceless.”
The Mets answered with four insurance runs, all with two out in the eighth. Pagan hit an RBI double, Murphy singled home two more runs, and Ruben Tejada added an RBI single.
Pagan’s two-run double in the ninth made it 16-9. Kelly retired the only batter he faced, getting Hairston to hit an easy fly to center.
“The most shocking thing was, 2-2, he threw a breaking ball,” Hairston said.
NOTES: Parnell eventually did get in the game and had a pitch clocked at 103 miles per hour on the stadium scoreboard in the seventh. … The Tigers recalled LHP Brad Thomas (left elbow inflammation) from his rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Toledo, but he remains on the disabled list. … Paulino became the sixth Met to hit cleanup this season.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)