Mets aim at .500 road record

CINCINNATI -- Despite going into Tuesday night’s game against the Reds 14 games below .500 overall, the Mets have a chance to finish above .500 on the road if they win their final road games of the season Tuesday and Wednesday.

Even if they don’t, manager Terry Collins still is happy with how his team has played away from Citi Field. He just can’t quite figure out why the Mets are favoring the road games.

“I was just sitting here trying to figure out who’s played well and who hasn’t,” he said. “I’m pleased, especially with what we’ve gone through. Even if we don’t finish .500 on the road, I’m still pleased with how we’ve played.”

Explaining the Mets’ problems at home, where they’re 13 games below .500, also was beyond his grasp.

“It could be a lot of things, but we’ve certainly got to fix it,” he said. “There’s some things that can be addressed, but we’ve got to do a better job of it.”

In part to be fair to the teams contending with the Reds in the NL Central, where St. Louis leads Pittsburgh and Cincinnati by two games each with five to play, Collins felt compelled to start Mike Baxter in right field against right-hander Mike Leake.

“We looked at Leake and Baxter’s hit him,” Collins said, referring to Baxter’s .300 average (3-for-10) against the Reds’ starter. “We don’t want anybody saying we’re not trying. [The Reds are] in the hunt.”

Under those circumstances, Collins might have considered finding a spot for Justin Turner, who hasn’t played since Sept. 10 because of a tight right hamstring. The Mets put Turner through several exercises before batting practice Tuesday, and Collins pronounced him “available” for the game. Turner is 3-for-7 (.429) in his career against Leake.