Japanese Duo Lead Mets On Asian Night, 2-1

Just imagine what the Mets will do on Hispanic Heritage Night...

A pair of Kaz's; Kazuo and Kazuhisa, led the Mets in their celebration of Asian Night at Shea Stadium last night and to victory over the Cincinnati Reds, 2-1.

Kazuhisa Ishii, absent from the club since mid-April and fresh off his turn on the disabled list pitched well enough to prevent the appearance of Victor Zambrano from the bullpen and Kazuo Matsui hit an uncharacteristic two run homer in the seventh inning to lift the Mets last night and yes, it "really" was Asian Night.

Ishii threw what must have been well over his intended pitch count, with 96 pitches, but was effective for 6 1/3 innings, allowing only three hits and an earned run although he left the game down 1-0 and didn't earn the victory. Better still, he went 2 for 2 at the plate to raise his batting average to .333, better than everyone on the Mets except Mike Cameron and PH specialist, Marlon Anderson.

Matsui, the scourge of many Met fans for his relatively pallid performances thus far this season, has actually begun to show an ability in the clutch of late. In the past four days, the Kaz Man has provided a bases-loaded triple, a game-winning homer and a multi-hit, multi-R.B.I. game.

However, not every Asian Met had a happy night. Lefty Korean relief pitcher Dae Sung Koo (KooKachoog) started the ninth inning instead of traditional closer Braden Looper because Koo throws left-handed and the first three hitters due up for Cincinnati were left-handed batters. Koo retired Sean Casey to start the inning, then gave up a single to Ken Griffey Jr. and walked Adam Dunn. The calls to rid the Norfolk bullpen of Scott Strickland and bring him home will only grow louder.

Jose Reyes' woes in the leadoff position continue to plague the Mets. Last night Reyes was 0 for 4 again with no walks, dropping his batting average to .250 and his OBP to .276. Reyes ranks 370th in the Major Leagues in On Base Percentage, barely ahead of Mike Piazza's .275, just to give you a little perspective.

The answers unfortunately, are not so simple. No one on the Mets is particularly fitted for the leadoff spot. As a team they rank 19th in the Majors in On Base Percentage even though they are tied for 8th in the MLs in walks. As a team they are hitting only .259, which ranks them 17th, just ahead of the Braves and Phillies. By comparison, the Baltimore Orioles, with a DH to cheat with, are hitting .293 as a team. You might make the argument for Miguel Cairo on the nights he replaces Matsui but no one else on the Mets has any particular penchant for getting on base and for being fast unless you want Carlos Beltran leading off for you.

One thing the Mets are proficient at unfortunately, are strikeouts. They are 2nd in the Major Leagues with 276 behind only, guess who, the Cincinnati Reds.


There are indications that Cryin Mike Cameron will have his CF spot back tonight in the series finale against the Reds. Cameron may spell Beltran, who is batting a respectable .298 with 6 home runs, but he revealed yesterday that he feels "discomfort" at the plate and is getting "distracted" hitting at Shea Stadium. However, Beltran is also the only Met to have started all 39 games to date so perhaps a mental health holiday is in order.


Two lefties take the mound in the last game of the series tonight, Tom Glavine against former Yankee, Twin and Phillie Eric Milton. (and better still, it is an afternoon game which means that I can actually listen to it live tonight instead of staying up into the wee hours of the morning trying to keep my eyes open catch the final few innings)

The Reds have won six of 10 games when they have been opposed by a left-handed starter. Two of those victories came in starts by Glavine and Tuesday's starter, Kaz Ishii. (although Ishii has now vindicated that early loss and so too perhaps will Glavine).

Although Milton has beaten the Mets once this season, he is 0-3 over his last five starts, and has watched his ERA go from 4.98 on April 21 to a whopping 7.21 currently.

And with the first two games already won, with the Mets 21-19 and having Thursday off, thoughts inevitably begin turning to The Best Show In Town, the upcoming series against the Yankees, who have now won 10 in a row, followed in short order by a crucial three game series at Atlanta and a crucial four game series at the Florida Marlins.

If the Mets can at least break even during this stretch, 5-5 or 6-4, they will be keeping pace and continuing to prove themselves. However, another set of series' like the one against the Cubs and the Cardinals dropping two of three will leave the Mets in a sordid tailspin, beginning to question their hopes for the season.

And perhaps in anticipation of the upcoming series against the his daddy the Yankees, Pedro is dressing in orange suits and blue shoes - if it works, he should outfit the entire Met team in the gaudy wardrobe.

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