Dr Jekyll and Mr Ishii

"I was slowly losing hold of my original and better self, and becoming slowly incorporated with my second and worse." - Jekyll, highlighting his lack of control over Hyde in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

He had us all fooled last week after he matched Roger Clemens virtually pitch for pitch in a brilliant outing. Where was the evil Ishii who had no pitch control? Left behind after he stunk up Cincinnati? Where was the man who never met a base on balls he didn't like? Had the masterful mind of Coach Peterson tamed him? Did the Mets land the steal of the season getting him for their backup catcher?

Well, at least until his next start, we can pack the bandwagon back in mothballs for Ishii was simply atrocious last night in giving us a repugnant sample of what Dodger fans went through for the past two seasons. And it's not like he eased us into it. After a leadoff single, he stunk right out of the gate, throwing 11 consecutive balls in the first inning, walking two batters on four pitches and going 3-0 on a third. He finished with six walks in five innings and when he faced the other teams pitcher in Randy Wolf, he threw a ball over Wolf's head and walked him!

Ohhhhh, bad Ishii.

"It is weird," Mets manager Willie Randolph understated of Ishii. "It seemed like a record skipping. He couldn't hit that spot." Or that one, or that one, or the other one. Baddabing. Baddabang.

In the end, after the smoke had finally cleared, it was yet another bad beginning coupled with Met futility with their bats. The Mets after all, are notorious slow starters. They have been outscored 16-4 in the opening inning this season.

But it wasn't all as bad as it seemed. At least not in the ahem, right perspective. For the night Ishii threw 95 pitches, 50 of them for strikes. In the context of the Mets pitching staff outside of Pedro, this actually isn't as bad as it seems. In Sunday's loss, Tom Glavine threw 96 pitches and only 52 of them were for strikes and if you're matching a potential Hall of Fame pitcher in your strikes to ball ration either you're doing well or that potential Hall of Fame pitcher is on the shores of washed up or, even more intriguiing perhaps, your guru pitching coach isn't really the genius everyone makes him out to be. At least Ishii took his bad outing like a man instead of whingeing about the strike zone or poorly called balls and strikes, like Glavine.

Just across the diamond, if they weren't so unappealing, you might salivate at the thought of the Phillies pitching staff who have not walked a batter in 33 innings and have allowed just 15 in 13 games.

And whilst Ishii was all over the map, you have to wonder when Randy Wolf suddenly became Cy Young. Wolf logged eight scoreless innings against these somewhat less-than-mighty Mets who even with Floyd and Piazza back in the lineup seemed rather powerless until Wolf obviously began to tire in the 9th.

Cliff Floyd, playing his first game since straining his ribcage last week, turned on a 3-0 pitch from reliever Tim Worrell and clocked a three-run homer to bring the Mets within a run in the 9th but it proved to be one run short in a rally that yet again evoked all the power and potential of a fierce Mets comeback and the Phillies took the opener 5-4.

Wolf (1-1) had never beaten the Mets in nine prior home appearances yet through eight innings he allowed only six singles, did not walk a batter and struck out five.

As if the impossible were suddenly plausible, Felix Heredia came in to relieve Ishii in the 6th and did even worse. He threw three balls that went to the backstop, including two that sailed over Bobby Abreu's head. But unlike Ishii, he had somewhat of an excuse, leaving the game after 11 pitches with weakness at the base of his left thumb. He had experienced numbness in his pitching hand in spring training but said this new problem - a weakness in the base of his thumb - was unrelated to the earlier troubles. He will be sent back to New York Tuesday for further evaluation.


On the bright side:

Kaz Matsui not only didn't commit an error at second, but he went 2 for 4 at the plate so perhaps his eyesight is coming back.

Matthews and DeJean of all people, pitched scoreless innings in relief.

Mike Piazza, for all his flaws doesn't look as bad out there as the Phillies Jim Thome, who was swinging at pitches around his head and is batting only .213 for the season. In fact, Piazza raised his average to .231 with a pair of singles and was even capable of making a little joke out of the wildness of Ishii and Heredia, noting that maybe he should move back to first. Haha. That IS a good one, Mike. Wouldn't it be nice to see throws to first sailing past you into the stands instead of merely to the backstop? Ho ho. Ha ha.


Hard to believe the rumours that the Mets are considering sending Diaz to the minors when Cryin Mike Cameron returns.

"I still think he needs to play every day," Manager Willie said of Diaz's possible demise. Perhaps so, but when half the team struggles to hit, it doesn't seem logical to demote the one guy who is hitting the best. Diaz is hitting .328 on the season so far. Cliff Floyd is the only other regular hitting over .300.

Last night Diaz doubled with one out in the eighth inning to become the first Met runner to get past first base all game. But then, after Cairo hit a fly to center, Diaz, thinking there were two outs, ran right past third base coach Manny Acta and was doubled off second base. The kind of baserunning faults you can't have when you barely get any baserunners all game. Then again, we still haven't forgiven Mr Acta for almost blowing it for the Mets in their 6th game of the season.


Beltran had his 1,000th career hit, driving home a run with a single in the ninth.


Tonight, as if last night weren't painful enough, the OTHER Mets pitcher who never met a base on balls he didn't like, Victor Zambrano (0-1), will face Vicente Padilla who is to make his first appearance of the season Tuesday. He had been assigned to the disabled list because of bicep tendinitis but he has beaten the Mets seven times in nine starts, more than another other team he has pitched against. Shouldn't be too hard to write the script for this one. Just cut and paste last night's outing.


Before their game against the Phillies on Monday night, the Mets' bullpen had the most victories in the National League with four. Their starters had two, the second fewest.

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