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Mets clinch first-half title in a hurry

St. Lucie sweeps twinbill, locks up FSL South Division crown
June 2, 2012
It was only fitting that pitching-rich St. Lucie clinched the Florida State League South Division first-half title by shutting out Tampa on Saturday. Then the Mets tacked on another win for good measure.

Angel Cuan combined with Adam Kolarek on a four-hitter in the opener as St. Lucie posted a 2-0 victory. The Mets completed the sweep with a 6-5 walk-off win.

Those were two more examples of the Mets finding ways to win, something they've done with impressive regularity as they opened a 16 1/2-game lead over second-place Jupiter and nailed down a playoff berth.

At 43-12, the Mets boast the Minor Leagues' top winning percentage (.782). Over a 162-game season, that would translate to roughly 127 wins.

"It says that we have a bunch of guys that go out there and execute the fundamentals and play to win the ballgame," said first-year Mets manager Ryan Ellis. "It's our job to put the guys in situations to be successful. And so far, it's worked out."

Cuan (4-1) yielded three hits over six innings to lower his ERA to 2.40 and Francisco Pena went 2-for-3 with an RBI in Game 1. In the second game, St. Lucie strung together three runs in the sixth to tie it up before Mets' No. 14 prospect Cory Vaughn scored the winning run on an error.

The Mets have succeeded largely on the strength of their pitching -- their 2.72 team ERA is nearly a half-run better than the next best FSL team. Cuan, Erik Goeddel (2.00 ERA in seven starts), No. 19 Mets prospect Cory Mazzoni (3.10 in 10) and Chase Huchingson (3.14 in nine) have helped carry the load.

Mets' No. 6 prospect Wilmer Flores has starred offensively, hitting .318 with 10 homers and a team-best 34 RBIs in 53 games. Vaughn also has 10 homers and is second on the club with 26 RBIs.

"I knew we had some talented guys here," Ellis said. "I don't know if you anticipate clinching the first half on the second day of June, but we knew we'd have a shot because of how they execute the fundamentals and go about their business.

"It's always nice. The important thing is they continue to develop. The task at hand is to get them to the big leagues. That's been our focus and we feel winning is part of development."

Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to