End of the Road: Mets Finally Lose Another

We all knew the Mets would lose again this season. There were a few spoofing "157-5" signs out at Shea on Saturday but six straight victories was a nice run, the perfect antidote for an 0-5 beginning and a portent of good things to come this season. It couldn't last forever and yesterday, AJ Burnett and the Florida Marlins proved that with a 5-2 victory, the first loss at Shea this season for the Mets.

Of course, it wasn't just Burnett's four hitter and or his second straight complete game for the Fish that did the Mets in. Most of us probably imagined a meltdown by Zambrano or an 8 walk outing by Ishii or even a typical Heilman outing would do us in but yesterday it was a series of events and a broken down lineup that did the Mets in.

Miracles cannot be expected for long with a lineup that has Doug Mientkiewicz batting cleanup. But with Cliff Floyd still out with a nagging rib problem and Mike Piazza begging off after a day game followed a night game and was followed by another day game (old knees, bum bat, wistful arm, the usual excuses), there really wasn't anyone else capable.

Tom Glavine had another suspect outing. When you walk four and surrender six hits and three runs over 96 pitches and 6 innings and your second baseman allows two grounders to roll past him and makes a bad throw to first to ruin a double play all in one inning in some sort of strange Scratched Cornea Sleeping Fielder third inning outtakes in the form of Kaz Matsui, victory will be an uphill battle. The Mets have already won several uphill battles but yesterday it was just a little too much.

The Kaz Man's battles at second base were reminiscent of his 24 errors at shortstop last season and naturally, the fans at Shea were quick to let him know, by chanting for Miguel Cairo and booing Matsui, that the grace period for prolonged lapses of fielding competence expired last season. Even though none of Matsui's failings were officially ruled as errors.

And although we're sad to see the winning streak go, there will be hopefully be plenty more of them this season and as a consolation prize, although the sweep was prevented, the Mets still took two out of three from the pitching powerful Marlins and avoided any embarassing performances from Carlos Delgado, like a game-winning homer or a grandslam. If anything, the Mets would look happy not having signed him this winter.

As for the absences in the lineup, we know Cliff Floyd is as fragile as a rice paper. We know Piazza needs one out of every three games off. We also know Hamstring Jose's illustrious past with the DL. Injuries will be a part of this season as they are for most teams but so far the Mets have survived despite losing 2 out of their 5 starting pitchers before the season even started and the key to this season being successful will be how well the substitutes step in for them.

Some days, it's just better to look on the bright side. Tonight's game against the Phillies should see the return of both Floyd and Piazza and more juice in the order. Koo, Aybar and Hernandez all had scoreless outings for the bullpen although Matthews gave up his first earned run of the season.

David Wright went 0 for 2 and saw his batting average drop to .189 but he had a brilliant 11 pitch at-bat against Burnett in the 2nd inning when he fouled off five or six pitches to eventually earn a walk.

Neither Beltran nor Reyes struck out although Kaz, in compliment to his dodgy fielding also had a cataracts sort of day at the plate as well, going 0 for 3 with a strikeout and dropping his batting average to .242.

Let's face it. The NL East is going to be a brutal series of difficult opponents. Even the Washington Nationals, everybody's preseason favourites to fall to the basement early on, are leading the division and scaring people into making this a five team race. Taking two of three from a nemesis like the Marlins is something to be happy about, not something to mourn. If they can do similar the rest of the month, by the month's end, they will certainly be in first place.

Tonight Kazuhisa Ishii (0-1, 3.29) will face the Phillies in Philadelphia against Randy Wolf (0-1, 6.00). Hopefully just the beginning of another winning streak.

No comments: