Dainty Day At The Plate, Morris Subdues Mets, 4-2

It wouldn't have been hard to guess that after the first two games against St Louis both teams would have taken a game. You would have looked at Game One and saw that Glavine was pitching and you could think to yourself, ok, there's one loss for the Mets.

Equally you could have looked at Pedro taking the mound for Game Two and thinking to yourself, ok, there's a win for the Mets.

Although you'd have been wrong both times in this series, when you looked at Game Three, the formula seemed there for another victory for the Cardinals. All you really had to look at was Matt Morris taking the mound against the predictably mediocre Aaron Heilman and figure to yourself, looks like the Cards will take two out of three.

They did.

Mastering the concept of playing just well enough to lose and led by Aaron Heilman's 5 2/3 innings of Tragicomedic pitching, moving from Jose Reyes' leadoff pop up in the bottom of the first all the way to Doug Mientkiewicz's strikeout in the bottom of the 9th to end the game, the Mets give every impression that they are an orchestra only occasionally capable of striking the perfect key.

In some ways you are suprised they aren't worse. Let's face it, when your hopes in a rubber match are riding on Aaron Heilman, you can't expect much. Up and down the line, with the exception of Pedro, the Mets starting pitching is dominated by guys who are usually bad, sometimes nearly pedestrian and on the rare occasion, briefly brilliant, just long enough to make you wonder "what if".

What were Heilman's flaws? A few mistakes for homers was all, really. You could say the same thing about Pedro the day before. A few mistakes against a team that has great starting pitching three days in a row and you do end up losing two out of three at home. But let's not forget that the Cardinals were last year's National League Champions, even if they were humbled by the Red Sox in the World Series.

You see Matt Morris winning his third game of the season and dropping his ERA down to 2.95 and you think to yourself, wow, Aaron Heilman's 3-3 record and 4.37 ERA is pretty average. Yet it wasn't really that bad of an outing. 4 runs off 7 hits is not the kind of performance you fret about for the 4th or 5th starter in the rotation. He even struck out seven whilst walking only one which is quite an impressive number given the majority of the Met rotation's perplexion with the strikezone.

No, the Mets were just off on Sunday, similar to Saturday. Playing teams the Brewers or the Phillies or the Reds, this is ok. They can take two of three in series' against that kind of competion but against a World Series calibre team this simply isn't enough, the Mets have to play over their heads, better than they really are in order to take two of three from the Cards.

That's the reality. It's nothing to moan about. It wasn't anyone's intention to win the World Series this season. The intention was to compete and to provide hope for the future which, if the talent coming up through the farm system is any indication, is a future worth waiting for.

There's still plenty of time in the season and occasionally, the Mets have shown glimmers of what could be if they were lucky enough, if they perservere enough, if they take enough of these three game series' against teams like the Cardinals and the Marlins and the Braves.

One thing that is not helping them at all is the presence of Mike Piazza. It seems evident that not only is his inability to catch an enormous liability, (just yesterday, another dismally two-hopped a toss to second base on a pitchout, another throw, this time from Carlos Beltran, rolling under his glove,) but even his hitting has evaded him. Yesterday was another 0 for 4 collar, dropping his batting average down to a scapegoatish .207 for the season, hurting the Mets doubly. There's no DH in the National League and Mike Piazza has only reaffirmed that he no longer has any business being here in the land without DHs. It's detrimental to the team having Manager Willie rolling the dice with this washout day in and day out waiting for him to catch fire. Granted, the spector of Ramon Castro haunting homeplate is nothing to compose odes of joy about either but at least the guy can field and for alot of teams, a solid defensive catcher is sufficient for your purposes. You don't need the useless talents of the guy who finally ego'd his way into the record books for most homeruns for a catcher taking you down a notch every game.

These Mets aren't a bad side. They're somewhat balanced which is what a team of essentially mediocre hitters has to be. They are the only team in the majors with five players who have six or more home runs: Floyd (10), Mike Piazza (6), Doug Mientkiewicz (6), Beltran (6) and David Wright (6).

If the Mets can continue beating the teams that are as mediocre or worse, taking two of three from the teams with no hope and one of three from the playoff dancers, who knows, they might buy themselves enough time to find themselves getting hot just around the time the playoffs are awarded. They just need to hang in and don't let the whole thing collapse in the meantime.


Now that Ishii is doing better quicker than expected it's time for some rotation rotation. Either he or Zambrano will get the start in Game Two against the Reds and frankly, given how Zambrano has melted down game after game, I'd prefer to see him hone his awareness of homeplate somewhere safely far away, like Norfolk. There's a possibility that Heilman will get the call down to the minors instead but Heilman appears to be ready to assert some responsibility on this team. He isn't great but he isn't Zambrano.


After the humiliation of getting swept in the opening series of the season in Cincinnati, the Mets will host the Reds who, one hopes, will finally get their comeuppance.

Since that infamous beginning the Reds are a miserable 11-23 on the year.

PROJECTED PITCHING MATCHUPS - note that this is the kind of starting rotations the Mets should really wake their bats up with...sure beats facing Marquis, Mulder and Morris...

May 16, 7:10 p.m. - Paul Wilson (1-3 4.76 ERA) vs. Kris Benson (0-1 6.75 ERA)

May 17, 7:10 p.m. - Ramon Ortiz (1-1 6.75) vs. Victor Zambrano (2-3 5.45)

May 18, 1:10 p.m. - Eric Milton (2-4 7.21) vs. Tom Glavine (2-4 5.77)

The series notes, in more detail than anyone outside of Queens or Cincinnati could possibly require or even want for that matter, can be found here.

In the rest of the NL East, the Braves and Marlins travel West to face the Padres and Dodgers respectively. The Nats open a series at home against the Milwaukee Brewers and the Phillies get to host the Cardinals.

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