26.5.05

Mets Are Mute At Bat Again, Swept by Braves in 3-0 loss

If we were waiting for the patient to begin showing the first signs of the disease, wait no longer. The classic early signs of a dismal season are already begin to show up on the Mets: inability to beat quality teams, errors which cost games or hand the momentum over to the opponent, injuries, spotty starting pitching, once-hot-hitting now cooling with two consecutive shutout losses...

This isn't a matter of bad luck or a temporary dip in play, it's a matter of a far more deep rooted and sinister problem: the Mets plain ole Can't Beat the Better Team Syndrome. Consider that against the Cubs, Cards, Yankees and now the Braves over the several weeks, the Mets are 3-9 and with a four game series looming ominously on the horizan against the NL East-leading Florida Marlins, it isn't likely to get better anytime soon. Not until the Cincinnati Reds come up on the schedule again.

Last night was another dollop of the same miserable miscues that have plagued the Mets for the last four games in a row during their four game losing streak:

Fielding buffoonery: Shockingly effective through the first four innnings by allowing no runs and only two hits, Victor Zambrano's facade began to crumble in the bottom of the 5th when Johnny Estrada drew a leadoff walk and Ryan Langerhans singled. Pete Orr followed with a comebacker to Zambrano, whose throw to third base sailed into left field, allowing Estrada and Langerhans to score. And just like that, with mute bats in their hands for the second straight game, the Mets lost another.

Massive defensive liability behind the plate: In his ongoing effort to maximise his uselessness to the team, Mike Piazza, the Idiot Who Said Meeting Rush Limbaugh Was Like Meeting George Washington two days ago, allowed a whopping 5 stolen bases last night on four of his trademark bounced throws: twice by Rafael Furcal and THREE stolen bases by Marcus Giles. As an encore, he went 0 for 4 at the plate again which makes him 0 for 9 with six strikeouts and hit into a double play since gushing like a schoolgirl over the reptilian Limbaugh and rightly so. After uttering such inanities to compound his already miserable season for the Mets, here's hoping that Piazza and his Met career are ground to a halt with a merciful season-ending injury. Harsh? C'mon. Mike Piazza's career has been one long landslide ever since gay rumours were first fired up and not even a sham marriage has been able to halt it.

Zero Momentum: They couldn't beat a Triple A pitcher summoned up from Richmond only a week ago to replace the injured John Thomson. Kyle Davies struck out four of the first six batters he faced before fanning two with runners on the corners and one out in the fourth. The 21-year-old righthander subsequently allowed just four hits and one walk before being chased by Mike Cameron 's one-out triple in the sixth to earn his second win in two starts. (to be fair, he also beat the Red Sox in his debut last weekend)...

Add it up and the cake you've baked with these ingredients are Manager Willie's second full-scale panic of the season as the Mets stumbled below .500.

With Carlos Beltran still out, limited to a pinch-hitter's role last night and possibly out for the entirety of the Florida series, Cliff Floyd hurt his right middle finger on a fourth-inning foul ball and said afterwards that he had aggravated a previously-popped tendon (he originally hurt it in 1997). He said, "It's going to be sore as hell for a few days," but noted he could still play. (Well, probably not with much effectiveness at the plate and we can watch the swan dive of yet another batting average.) -- Floyd is 2 for his last 20 at the plate over the last seven games yet still taking the cleanup spot in the order whilst David Wright, desperately struggling to knock in more runs than he allows by bonehead plays at third base, is 11 for 21 over that same period. Just a little food for thought as Manager Willie takes slack for not being more flexible with the lineup card. Last night's batting order was the same as the one the night before and has produced two straight shutouts.

*****

Can we hope this spell of bad news is over? What's next, Carlos Delgado making us regret his signing with the Marlins instead of us the rest of the week with some massive homerun and RBI display?

They lost three straight to the Braves with Ishii, Glavine and Zambrano, the bowel movements of the starting rotation, and now the upper crust will get it's chance to reverse the trend of losing to winners.

Kris Benson will be on the mound tonight against the 36-year-old Frank Castillo, the former Cubs and Red Sox pitcher whom the Marlins have promoted from their Triple-A Albuquerque affiliate to fill the void in their rotation. Castillo had a 5-2 record and 3.79 ERA with the Isotopes.

On Friday, Pedro (4-1, 3.14) takes the mound against righty Brian Moehler, RHP (2-1, 2.13).

Thereafter you can pretty much forget about it. The Mets haven't announced which stiff will take the mound Saturday and Sunday but the Marlins will have Dontrelle Willis, LHP (8-1, 1.55) out there on Saturday and Josh Beckett, RHP (6-3, 2.63) out there on Sunday.

If the Mets come out of Florida with a split, and nothing but unsubstantiated hope and faith at the moment points in the direction of them being able to, they will be relieved to come away from this roadtrip with a win at all.

Looking ahead, after a day off, they will host the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Giants, Houston and the Angels in a 12 game homestand.

*****PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT*****

Archie Bunker's Army will take a brief respite from the losing through Tuesday in order to recharge in the brothels and coffee shops of Utrecht and Amsterdam. It will be the first games missed this season but considering what lay in store for the Mets, now is as good a time as any for a break.

Archie Bunker's Army will return in time for the opening homestand against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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