What A Difference Six Weeks Makes - Mets Pound Reds

"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another." -Charles Dickens

You might not have known it to look at how the season started, with this same team from Cincinnati appearing like a harbinger of doom on the horizon of the Met season with three straight victories, yes these same Reds, now approximately six weeks older, these same Reds who pounded Met pitching for 22 runs in the first three games, appear now to be a different team altogether; infinitely meaker, less consternating and, let's face it, the kind of team the Mets should be beating, the kind of team that lightens the burden of their disappointing three game series against the Cardinals.

The Mets did their job last night unlike those first dreadful trio of games to start the 2005 season with: Kris Benson, on the DL back then was on the mound last night working on his third start and looking all the better for it allowing only 4 hits, striking out 8 whilst appearing momentarily domineering over 7 2/3 innings and earning his first victory of the season.

There was no 9th inning meltdown as their had been on the Opening Game of the season this time. KooKooKachoog pitched the rest of the game with a flawless precision that might render these calls for lefty bullpen arms premature, striking out three, walking none and giving up no hits.

Met batters tapped out 13 hits although it should be noted that against Reds pitching this is no great feat, not with the Reds pitchers sporting the second-worst ERA in the NL (5.68). Even in those beleaguered opening days of the season the Mets still managed to pound out 30 hits in three games against this team of washout arms and burnt out careers. There is something tangibly exciting about getting to beat up on a team with a .378 winning percentage, even if it is only May.

Another Met not present in that opening series was Cryin Mike Cameron who last night helped shunt the Reds limited opportunities by making a great throw from right field to nail Foolish Felipe Lopez at the plate - ironically on a one hop throw which is the normal number of hops it takes Mike Piazza just to throw halfway to second base from his catcher's squat.

And our whipping boy of the month, Piazza, even managed to hold on to the throw although to be fair, Lopez neither intimated nor went through with a full head on body block that might have jarred the ball from the trepid Piazza mitt. To his credit, Piazza even managed a single and a double in four at-bats to raise his gloriously ballooning batting average all the way to .216 - heady days indeed for the notoriously fading backstop who has seen his career flash before his eyes more than once already this season.

With Ramon Castro now on the DL, Mike Piazza may be the man behind the plate whether Pedro likes it or not, Mike DeFelice notwithstanding.

But that's a concern for the Subway Series, not now, when the Mets can savour giving the Reds the kind of pasting they'd should have given them to start the season. Team roles in league races are already being defined and unfortunately for Reds fans, despite their 3-0 start to the season, they are a team that appear to be unable to sustain hopes for a successful season beyond a week. Last night's victory moved the Mets back to a game over .500 and the Reds to ten games under .500.


Tonight Kaz Ishii will take his turn against the Reds after a quick and impressive return from disabled list. What that means, without further definition of the rotation by Mets management is that they have for the moment anyway, a six man rotation. But look out because Ishii will be on a strict pitch count limit tonight likely meaning that Victor Zambrano and his tempestuous relationship with the strikezone will also be on display tonight, coming this time out of the bullpen.

What Ishii's return also means is that despite hitting .294 with four homers and 15 RBI and scoring 17 runs in 28 games, Victor Diaz is the odd man out on the roster and will be scurrying back to Norfolk for some playing time. It's hard to argue with the decision for the moment simply for the fact that Cameron has been on fire since his own return, Floyd has been on fire for most of the season and Carlos Beltran is well, the Mets best all-round player so there simply isn't a starting spot open for Diaz and the common wisdom is that he will be better off tearing up AAA pitching than rotting away on the bench waiting for pinch hit opportunities or Cliff Floyd's fragile little body to flair up again. Good luck Senor Diaz and may your stay in the minors be your last.

With Zambrano likely to come out of the bullpen to spell Ishii, the best hope for a Met victory tonight is something like a 10-0 lead going into the 5th inning. Although we can't be certain, it would appear that not even the league leader in hit batsmen in the person of Zambrano can give up a lead that big.

Then again, you never know.

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