Mets Bullpen Collapses, No Sweep In The Bronx

Disappointing, yes. But two out of three from the Yankees in the Bronx, for the first time EVER, is something to be proud of, even if the bullpen completely negated a proud effort highlighting almost as much by Yankee miscues as Met surprises.

Archie Bunker's Army is off for the next week hiking in Ben Nevis and thereabouts:

In the interim, I fully expect the Mets to be battling for first place by the time I return.


Let's Go Mets!


Mets Bomb Bombers 10-3

Both teams have identical 37-37 numbers after Cliff Floyd pounded two homers and the Mets clinched their first-ever winning series at Yankee Stadium with a massive 10-3 outburst.

The case is being made for the Mets being the best baseball team in New York today.


Mets 6 Yankees 4

Behind the pitching of Pedro Martinez, the homeruns of Cliff Floyd and Carlos Beltran, four sacrifice flies and the amazing grab by Beltran (above), the Mets took the opener of the Subway Series at Yankee Stadium, 6-4.


Roberto, Roberto, My Hero Roberto! Mets Take Series, 4-3

The stage was all set for a Met Meltdown.

Having led the entire game, the 7th inning was proving more than formidable for the Mets. Kaz Ishii had withered after 6 2/3 innings of decent pitching, two outs more than his usual effort and after Todd Pratt had belted one to make it 4-2, with Rollins on first and Jason Michaels coming to the plate, Manager Willie knew the Invinshible Ishii was hanging by a thread.

So in came Heath Bell who immediately conspired with Mike Piazza to allow Rollins to steal second and then gave up a run-scoring single to Michaels to make it 4-3.

Out came Bell and in came Royce Ring to face Bobby Abreu. After a long at-bat, Abreu walked to put the winning run on first base so out came Ring and in came Roberto Hernandez with the game riding on his shoulders.

Only the night before the bullpen was the scourge of the Mets, costing them a possible victory and tonight, after smooth sailing for almost seven innings, here we were again, out of paradise and into the boiling cauldron of Phillie trouble.

Roberto Hernandez was facing Met Killah Pat Burrell and the tension in the air was tangible. Yes, Burrell is 0 for 7 with four strikeouts against Hernandez but either you are on a roll or you are rolling off and if this was ever the perfect opportunity for surprising disappointment, it was also the perfect opportunity for bullpen redemption after the failure of Bell and Royce.

According to the game plan for the last several weeks, this was the perfect opportunity for another disappointing finish, watching a victory slink off into a loss, watching a possible series victory against a division rival morph into yet another series lost, a stumble further still into the darkness of the NL East cellar. But Roberto Hernandez was having none of it.

"I just went after him like I've always done," said Hernandez, who was let go by the Phillies after last season and has become the Mets' primary setup man with a 2.03 earned run average. "I'm the kind of pitcher who is going to attack. But by no means was it easy today."

And attack he did, striking out Burrell looking and although it won't be recorded as such in history, saved the game and the series for the Mets going into this weekend's frothing Subway Series at Yankee Stadium.


We could gush over Ishii's admirable performance, especially after deriding him so loudly and trotting out Heilman as our man of the hour in his place but let's face it, one game does not a season make and let's not forget that this was only Ishii's second win of the season and even with three runs allowed, his ERA still hovers in the 5.25 area. He was no Japanese Sandy Koufax out there. He got the job done, as well as you can expect from a fifth starter and it was a nice change of pace. Saved his starter's role for another week, presumably. But if he falls off the wagon again and offers up another hideous performance his next time out, this will all be forgotten and Heilman will be waiting in the wings.


Even with Mike Piazza behind the plate, the Mets stole more bases than they allowed last night thanks to Jose Reyes, who had three all by himself.

Because of his hitting history in Philly and because Mike Cameron still isn't up to speed, Manager Willie let Reyes back into the leadoff spot and Reyes responded with three hits and three stolen bases, enough to give the Yankees something to think about.

This was the snapshot of the Reyes we need batting leadoff if we are to become formidable in the NL East. I was daydreaming about the 1999 version of Roger Cedeno last night after Reyes' third stolen base, remembering what it was like to see him hitting .313 for the season with 66 stolen bases and a fat .396 on-base-average. I was dreaming about how intimidating the Mets order would become if Reyes were to suddenly blossom this season like that hitting leadoff.

Of course at this point, we should all be thankfully that Reyes hasn't torn a hammy or suffered from an ingrown toe nail to knock him out of the order all together - let's not forget, this is his first full season, his first healthy season and although there is promise, there is a spirited up-and-down quality to his youth which makes it difficult for him to put together the string of games he needs to fully begin to terrorise pitchers and catchers and begin altering the face of games.


So, the Mets head to Yankee Stadium with their heads held higher than they might otherwise have held them had Hernandez not held their lead. They took their first series in almost three weeks after losses to the Astros, the Angels, the A's and the Mariners. They remain firmly planted seven games from the lead in last place but after a dreadful trip out West, the Mets now face another crucial stretch in their schedule up to the All Star break.

After leaving the Bronx, they will host the Phillies and then the Marlins before hitting the road again for a crucial series in Washington DC and followed by a trip to Pittsburgh who are precisely the sort of team to kick the chair out from underneath the Mets heading into the break.


I won't go into deep analysis of the Subway Series. Pedro faces Mike Mussina in the Opener and that says it all right there - Pedro's return to Yankee Stadium to face a Moose looking for his 4th consecutive victory.

Saturday's game is not so exciting so hopefully that wasn't the game you got tickets for. Tom Glavine, whom we might consider trading depending on how the rest of this first half of the season plays out, will face someone called Sean Henn, LHP (0-2, 10.29) -- if you remember how the Mets performed against the wretched staffs of the A's and the Mariners you will know this is nothing to laugh about, the sort of nowhere pitcher who shines brilliantly and inexplicably against the Mets.

And finally on Sunday, Kris Benson will take on Randy Johnson to close out the series.

Archie Bunker's Army predicts the Mets will sneak two of three from the Yankees and begin to build some momentum back. Wishful thinking or the workings of a visionary? Haha. Tune in later this weekend for the answer for the result of

Willie's Return To The Bronx


7th Inning Pen Implosion Dooms Mets to 8-4 Loss

Well, you don't have to pinch me, I'm not dreaming any more.

One game after their high colonic output with 14 hits and eight runs had them fooled into believing they'd regained their touch at the plate, Mets bats were back on the rack gathering dust as they were dazzled and thwarted by yet another pitcher without a pedigree, this time in the form of Robinson Tejeda, who began the season at AAA and was starting only his third game of the season and was 8-14 with a 5.15 ERA at Double-A Reading last season.

Tejada allowed only three Met hits and a lone run via Cliff Floyd's homer, in six innings of work. Tejada you will recall, if you recall anything at all about him, is not officially listed as one of the many "aces" that populate the starting rotations of our NL East opponents. But perhaps Tejeda's domination was no fluke. Since being called from the bullpen (Heilman anyone) into the starting rotation he has thrown 16 2/3 innings and the Mets are the only team to have scored on him - once.

The Mets went on to score four runs but had only five hits all night with the top three in the order, Cameron, Reyes and Beltran going 0 for 11 collectively.

Still, with Victor Zambrano labouring through his six innings of work like an obese man walking up a narrow flight of winding stairs, the score was surprisingly, still tied 2-2 in the bottom of the 7th inning and the Mets had a chance thanks in large part to Cliff Floyd's miraculous, leaping-into-the-wall catch the inning before with the bases loaded that saved an even earlier demoralisation.

So instead of having Zambrano to kick around boys and girls, today's kicking victim will be the bullpen and in particular, the once-beloved Aaron Heilman.

Note to Mets Management: Our call was to have Heilman starting games in place of the execrable Kaz Ishii, not mucking about in middle relief!

With one on and one out in the 7th, Heilman was summoned and promptly plunked the first hitter he faced, Met Killah Pat Burrell. A very ominous beginning to a wretched outing as he ended up being tagged for five runs in a third of an inning, allowing three hits and a walk, hitting a batter and throwing a wild pitch. When the seventh inning began, the score was 2-2 and his earned run average was 3.39. When it was over, the score was 8-2 and his earned run average was 4.14.

Does this mean Ishii pitches on his next turn again?

Ugh. Pencil him in for disaster - he's starting against the Phillies this afternoon. For those of you who can't or won't remember, on April 18 he allowed six walks, six hits -- one a home run by Pat Burrell -- and five runs in five innings in a start against the Phillies.

I certainly wouldn't belabour Heilman's poor outing. He was doing so well for us in the rotation before Ishii came back off the DL to twist our intestines into knots. Last night's slamming does not change anyone's disgust with Ishii and certainly shouldn't make anyone think twice about letting Ishii have a turn at mopping up late innings of meaningless games in place of Heilman. Not unless he throws a shutout, haha, this afternoon.


There was every possibility that this game could have been a foregone conclusion before the second inning so perhaps we should be happy that we were afforded 6 innings of excitement before the bullpen blew it all.

Zambrano started the evening by loading the bases with no outs in the first inning after Chris Woodward's error put the leadoff hitter, Jimmy Rollins, on first. Kenny Lofton then bunted a single and Abreu walked before Thome struck out with the bases loaded and Pat Burrell grounded into a double play.

The Mets didn't get their first hit until Cliff Floyd's homerun to left field with two outs in the fourth.

And although the Mets couldn't do much at all against Tejeda, Ugueth Urbina was good for a few laughs again last night. A night after giving up homers to Mientkiewicz and Daubach, he surrendered a two-run homer to Mike Piazza in the 8th to bring the score to close the gap to 8-4 but this time, not enough.

Piazza, by the way, is hitting .333 for June, albeit with only 2 homers and 6 scraggly RBIs. I only point this out for a change a pace from mercilessly bashing him and perhaps as a silver lining of hope in our dizzying dreams that some day this season, the Mets are going to go on a hitting tear that not even Kaz Ishii can circumvent and Mike Piazza just may be the guy who ignites it. He hasn't done much this season and he's a shadow of his former pitch-punishing days, but a hot Piazza would at least justify a few hundred bucks of his elephantine salary.

Just so you know, the leadoff hitting situation has been resolved: Mike Cameron returned to the lineup and went 0 for 4 in place of Jose Reyes, who was knocked down to batting second and went 0 for 4 as well.


Not that it matters much, but adding to this recipe for disaster this afternoon is the fact that Cory Lidle, the Phillies starting pitcher for today's game, has never lost to the Mets, going 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA against them over 25 innings. Add this to the Mets 9-13 record in day games includes a 2-6 record in afternoon road games and you might just be safe in recommending this game be skipped altogether on doctor's orders, just to keep the blood pressure down and the fists from pounding holes in the wall.

Looking on the bright side of things, hey, at least we're not the Marlins, who were shut out for the second straight game by the Atlanta Braves makeshift rotation and have been outscored 13-0 in the first two games of their series at Turner Field.


Bleeding Stops At 4, Mets Pound Phillies 8-5

What's this? Someone in the NL East worse than the Mets? Can it be true?

Well, for a night anyway, it can be.

After both teams suffered miserably against the A's and Mariners, the Mets were 14 hits and 8 runs worth of Citizens Bank Park happier by game's end than the Phillies, who have now lost five of their last seven and fell behind the Mets as the coldest team in the NL East. They are just 12-19 against teams in the National League East, the worst record of any club in the division.

And all this after the Phillies were feeling massive about themselves, having won 12 of 13 on their big homestand just a week ago.

As Tony Montana once said to hired assasin Alberto, "Well you stupid fuck, look at you now!"

Jose Reyes, reverted back to leadoff hitter after the miserable failing of the Marlon Anderson Experiment, started the game off symbolically by legging out a routine ground ball to shortstop.

Then he stole second, advanced to third and scored when he forced Philadelphia starter Brett Myers into a balk. As Reyes charged halfway down the third-base line, pretending he was going to steal home, Myers became so distracted that he stopped his windup.

That's the stuff you want out of your lead off hitter and the stuff unfortunately, Reyes doesn't often provide with his miserable slump at the plate. That's why everyone is waiting for Mike Cameron to get healthy and for Reyes to drop back down to second in the order.

And it wasn't just Reyes. After such a depressing hitting performance against the AL West also-rans, the Mets jumped to a 5-1 lead after the first two innings as though Citizens Bank Park, where they hit seven homers in one game early this year, is some sort of sacred shrine for the hitless, the kind of park worthy of a pilgrimage. Just in time.

Perhaps unsure of what to do with such unfathonable run support from his Met teammates, Kris Benson hardly pitched a gem, pitching six innings to give up nine hits, five runs, four earned runs, one walk and two strikeouts. But he did win his 6th game in his last eight starts and improved his record to 4-0 in eight lifetime starts against the Phillies despite exiting after the 6th with the score 6-5.

Royce Ring tossed a perfect seventh inning of relief, proving once again the benefit of trading the miserable Roberto Alomar to the White Sox a few years back.

In the 8th, the Mets tried to secure victory when Doug Mientkiewicz hit an unlikely homer off Ugueth Urbina, whom, one imagines the Phillies had stuck in there to try and keep them close rather than inflate the Mets lead. One batter later, Brian Daubach, pinch hitting, hit another homer and suddenly the Mets were ahead 8-5, lead inflated and the man whom the Mets once considered trading for having blown the game open FOR the Mets rather than against them for a change.

Looper started off the inning by hitting Mike Lieberthal. Endy Chavez fly out but in typical Looper fashion, he allowed another single, this time to Jimmy Rollins, to put men on first and second. A potential game-ending double play to Jose Reyes instead skipped up and almost decapitated him and they managed only to get Rollins out at second which put men on first and third with two outs and the tying run at the plate.

Although Mets killer Pat Burrell (28 homers and 76 RBIs in 326 career at-bats against the Mets)was thankfully still two batters away, worse still perhaps, Looper killer Bobby Abreu, who was only 9-for-16 with four home runs against him, was standing there ready to make this another miserable night for the Mets.

But instead of a game-winning homer or a a two run double, or something nauseating like that, he grounded out to third which David Wright did not botch for another late-inning error to lose another ballgame and just as suddenly as he seemed in trouble, Looper escaped with yet another save, his 14th on the year and lucky 13th in a row. Like Pedro's 13 game winning streak getting shunted in Seattle, expect a Looper meltdown fast approaching on the horizan.


But fans, don't let your heart go all pitter-patter in excitement wondering whether or not this could be the Mets turn, like the Indians, Nats, Phillies, Yankees, etc., to get on a hot streak and reel off a dozen wins in a row or something to close out the first half of the season.

Coming up in the next two games we have Victor Zambrano (3-6) vs. Vicente Padilla (3-6) and then, in a final audition before his ritual beheading, Kazuhisa Ishii (1-6) vs. Robinson Tejeda (1-0).

With Mike DeJean finally getting the old chopchop and Kaz Matsui getting tossed on the DL, the Mets unveiled their newest new look, having promoted outfielder Gerald Williams and KooKooKachoog, disappeared on the DL all month, was activated. Not exactly headline news but a relief to see Mike DeJean on the next train out of town. Oh dear, whom shall we have to skewer game after game out of the bullpen any more?


In the rest of the East, the Nats dropped one to the Pirates to allow the Mets to move to within six and the Braves shutout the Marlins 6-0 behind John Smoltz.


Reading through the enemy rags, I see that one of my favourite columnists, Fat Bill Conlin has inadvertently solved the Mets first base hitting problem with his Free Ryan Howard plea.

For those of you who've forgotten, Ryan Howard is the man who eats AAA pitching for breakfast, can't play anywhere but first and is stuck behind Jim Thome for eternity.

And yes, it's only AAA pitching but as Conlin notes:

"Howard leads the International League with a .390 average. Despite having played 19 fewer games than a full schedule and having only 172 ABs, he has 13 home runs, which computes to a homer each 13.2 ABs. He leads the league with an insane .481 on-base percentage and is running away with the slugging percentage column - an off-the-charts .738. And, yes, he has struck out 50 times, which is a high punchout for every 3.44 ABs."

Just imagine.


Swept Away By Mariners, West Coast Misery Ends In Another Loss

Adding to what could grow to become a Brobdingnagian catalogue of a season-long accumulation of excuses, the Mets could point out that the Mariners beat the second place Philadelphia Phillies two games out of three just prior to sweeping the Mets and that hey, the Mariners are a team on the way up, waving to the Mets who are free falling like an elevator off its snapped cables.

Yeah, the mighty Seattle Mariners, 28-36 prior to sweeping the Mets.

After days of twisting hankies in our fists in frustration over one weak-kneed hitting performance after another, the Mets finally awoke, albeit vaguely, out of their collective batting coma, only to be bested by the Mariners, who had a season-high 17 hits.

8 of those hits and 6 earned runs came courtesy of Tom Glavine's two and a third innings and 47 pitches worth of bowel-clenching work in his most egregious performance to date, lowering the hideous standard he set back in early May against the Phillies when he let in 8 runs on 93 pitches.

Mike DeJean joined Glavine in ignominy, or perhaps even bested him by letting four runs score in a mere 18 pitches to destroy any semblance of hope the Mets could foster after crawling back to 6-5 in the top of the 6th.

Curiously, it was the beleaguered DeJean who put the loss in his own perspective when he noted:

"If anything, we've got guys with their foot too hard on the pedal who need to back it off a little and have some fun. It's a game, and we're acting like it is life or death."

If it were life or death, metaphorically speaking of course, DeJean would be the first body in the shallow grave.

The bottom four in Seattle's order — 21-year-old infielder Jose Lopez and rookies Jeremy Reed, Mike Morse and Rene Rivera — combined to go 8 for 18 against six Mets pitchers. They had five runs batted in.

Richie Sexson, who was tossed out of the game a day ago in the first inning, cracked an opposite-field homer in the first inning yesterday with Ichiro aboard and the Mariners never trailed thereafter, winning with authority, 11-5 to sweep the series and send the Mets home having lost 5 of 6 on this West Coast trip against the two worst teams in the AL West.

And no, in case you were wondering, this isn't funny anymore. While the Yankees were busy going on another hot streak, the likes of which the corpse-cold Mets haven't seen in months, our lads were still practicing their fire in the butts" speeches - yes, Cliff Floyd actually said that fire-in-the-butts bit completely contradicting DeJean who would prefer to remind us that despite toying with the hopes of millions with indifferent performances, it's still "only a game".

As though they'd all just been goofing around these last few weeks, Floyd threatened:

"We can't come out flat again in Philadelphia. We have to come out with fire in our butts. Or we're going to get smoked."

Gonna get smoked? Whattaya call losing 5 of 6 to the dregs of the AL West, Cliffy? They weren't just smoked, they were ground into the ashtray afterwards, butts and all.

But for all these miseries piling on, we might point out that for a game anyway, the weird unfamiliarity with the bats ended whilst the Mets pounded out a whole 10 hits in one game! Piazza, who bobbled a throw to homeplate in the 2nd inning to allow a run to score had three hits, none of which drove in any runs of course, and Jose Reyes, getting acclimated to his new number two slot in the batting order, had a pair of hits as everyone with the exception of Daubach (now hitting .091 when we called him up to replace the weak-hitting Mientkiewicz, haha) and David Wright (who managed three walks anyway) had at least a hit.

So this ghastly inability continues and the Mets have now fallen to a full seven games from the first-place Nats, comfortable in the basement of the NL East looking as though they might decide to stay there all season.

Better still, now that the "soft" portion of the schedule is over, the Mets will spend the rest of June facing the Phillies and Yankees. The Phillies had their own difficulties against these same miserable AL West teams, losing two of three to both the Mariners and the A's.


Metsomnia, New Lows in Hitting

Pedro's face says it all:

I'm not going to say much about this. 8th loss in 10 games. Pedro's first-ever loss to Seattle. Second straight less-than-stellar outing, this time outdueled by Ryan Effin Franklin who was without a win since May 8th. Are you kidding me? New low point of the season. Is this the Mets guide on How To Make Crap Pitchers Shine Like Stars?

You might have thought it was a good omen that Richie Sexson got tossed in the 1st innning and was followed shortly thereafter by Mike Hargrove but it appeared to have about as much effect as moving Reyes out of the leadoff spot for Marlon Anderson.

How do you spell desperation? M-a-r-l-o-n A-n-d-e-r-s-o-n batting leadoff.

Or perhaps David Wright's mad dash for third from first base on Doug Mientkiewicz's shocking single. Tossed out, rally killed, inning over, Piazza's run deleted.

17 straight scoreless innings until Wright's redeeming triple in the 7th scored Brian Daubach. Wright also made the play of the game with a spectacular leaping dive into the stands to catch a foul ball and get Pedro out of his apocalyptic 4th inning when the Mariners scored all their runs.

2 games under .500 for the first time since April 30th at 11-13.

Sinking deeper, you are getting very sleepy.


Tonight Tom Glavine takes another stab. Does it matter who the Mariners start if the Mets hitting slump refuses to wane?

Thanks to a second straight loss by the Nationals, the Mets remain firmly entrenched in the NL East cellar, 6 games out of first but when you think about it, the way they've been hitting, they could be another galaxy away from first place - can you imagine, right now anyway, a more ridiculous thought than the Mets battling for first?

Perhaps in hitting this rock-bottom sort of funk the Mets will magically rediscover themselves, start to hit and this will all seem like some food-induced nightmare that will be over once we wake up and it isn't the West Coast any longer.

But that's the rub. We don't even know if this is the worst already or if there will be even worse to come.

Stay tuned, kids. For an encore, maybe they'll get no-hit tonight.


Scoreless in Seattle

"Pop my balloon
Can you pop my balloon?
West Seattle hardcore
Pop my balloon"

--Mudhoney, West Seattle Hardcore

Well, it was fun for a day.

One game after exploding for 7 runs in the 5th inning against the A's, the Mets were right back into their dreary, saccharine hitting inertia, getting shut out by the first starting battery in baseball history with both pitcher and catcher being 42 years or older. Shut out by senior citizens. How low will we go?

Yes, it was a battle of two Japanese players:


Won in flagrant fashion by Ichiro with a three run homer and 4 RBIs on the day off of Ishii.

Ishii has now won a grand total of one game in his 9 starts for the Mets.

Can I get an Aaron Heilman? Can I get a hallelujah?


While the real story , other than this curious matchup and this curious battery, was of course, not Ishii's 10 hit, 5 run performance over 5 2/3 innings, rather the continued inability of the Mets to shake their hitting slump.

Stat of the evening came with the ritual pounding home of the message of how enigmatic Mets hitting has been over the last month or so:

The Mets have scored 3 runs or less in 22 of their last 34 games and they are 5-17 in those games with 3 or less runs, proving that not even Mets starters, who have performed admirably over that stretch, are good enough to overcome the new Achilles Heel.

Last night they were 0-8 with runners in scoring position, getting shutout for the sixth time this season and the second time in four games. This isn't like getting shutout back to back in Atlanta, this, if possible, is worse.

And the losses of late aren't like those earlier losses this season wherein you'd be capable of imagining that if they'd done just a leeeetle more, they could have won. This loss, like the other two in Oakland before it is like a bad head cold you can't shake, sniffles on the mound, sneezes in the field and a hacking cough at the plate.

Why just last month, in the good auld days, the Mets were ranked second in the league in runs scored. Since this recent plate plague, they've fallen all the way to 10th.

And having once prospered on the homerun ball, (back on the 10th of May, their 43 homers led the league and since then, they've hit only 25 more to fall to 7th in the league), the Mets are now leaving a trail of scoreless misery behind them as they struggle to recapture that mystical enamouration with the homerun and trying to do it all in one at-bat. The problem is, the earlier power was a bit of a fluke. The Mets are not build to play homerun ball and the longer they try to disprove that fact, the longer they are going to struggle.


The battery of the 42 year old Jamie Moyer throwing to the 42 year old Pat Borders bedeviled the Mets inning after inning. Despite getting the first two batters on in the 1st, again in the 7th and two on with only one out in the 8th, the Mets were simply incapable of getting a run on the board.

Not that a single run would have mattered much. In addition to Ichiro's humiliation of his countryman, the Mets also allowed a pair of unearned runs with a pair of errors. Granted, one of them was by Woodward, playing second base in place of the rattled Kaz Matsui, but the general malaise, at the plate, on the mound and in the field was so stultifying, not even Pedro's 13-0 record in Seattle is cause for much hope. 13, after all, is an unlucky number as they say.


Marlon Anderson, pinch hitting for Woodward in the 8th with two outs and the bases loaded, struck out looking against reliever Jeff Nelson and seconds later, was ejected from the game for arguing strikes. He joins Mike Piazza as the second Met in five games to be ejected for arguing about the strikezone. Better still, his ejection after replacing Woodward meant there were no more capable, healthy second basemen available so Kaz Matsui was forced into a game he was meant to miss after getting knocked senseless the night before by a hard but clean slide into second base by Jason Kendall.

According to the Gospel of Manager Willie, had Matsui not been hurt, Woodward would have played first base and Brian Daubach might have sat. Silly notions. Daubach has reached base in 5 of 8 appearances: one double, three walks and one HBP. If Jose Reyes could be half as creative, he wouldn't have been on base just three times in his last 27 at-bats and there might be some life at the top of the order. But he hasn't and there won't be whilst his massive, millstone-around-the-neck sort of slump continues. He is hitting .217 for June. Why Manager Willie hasn't been more experimental with the top of the order is baffling with these kinds of numbers.

His move of Wright to second in the order is paying off to the tune of Wright's three hits last night, which were exactly half of the Mets total hit output for the night.


Tonight Pedro will take his 13-0 record against the Mariners and Ryan Franklin, a righty with a 2-8 record and a 4.81. As the Mets aptly proved against the A's, an opposing pitcher's history of bad outings has no bearing on the Mets bats at the moment. You sometimes get the feeling that even if Megumi Takemoto took the mound for the Mariners tonight the Mets would still be somnambulent swingers, pinching out runs like a constipated sumo wrestler pinches out last night's fifth helping of Chanko-nabe.

Let this much be noted about tonight's game:

A loss by Pedro after 13 wins without a loss playing for the Expos and Red Sox will symbolically seal the Mets fate for the first half of the season as miserable and bordering on the hopeless.

So let's all join hands and pray for Pedro.

Iconoclastically speaking, of course.


Mets Cup Runneth Over With Runs, Finally Beat A's 9-6

"Thank God for letting us win," - Carlos Beltran following the Mets 9-6 victory over the A's.

The Mets scored more runs in their 7-run fifth inning in last night's 9-6 victory than they had in their previous three games combined which should indicate to you how starved they've been for runs and how sudden the eruption came that had eluded them for so long.

Whether it was God or simply an errant pitch by a shaky Ryan Glyn, Beltran hit his first-ever homer for the Mets in a game without Pedro Martinez pitching, a 3 run shot in a seven run fifth inning which effectively ended the Mets scoring drought, ended the Mets losing streak and allowed the Mets to escape a surprisingly pesky Oakland with at least one victory in hand.

Hardly what you would have expected when the Mets first flew out West to begin this trip but in the never-ending hegira to escape the penultimate season-stifling slump, being happy with 1 win out of 3 games against the dregs of the AL West is something we'll just have to swallow. Whether we digest it or vomit it back up remains to be seen but for the moment, one is win is better than none.

In addition to Beltran's unusual Pedro-less homer, Mike Piazza hit his first homer since May 9 at Wrigley Field, the first in 98 at-bats, the longest homerless streak of his 13-year career, ironically, the All-Time leading homerun hitting catcher wasn't catching but DHing in the game. The "real" catcher, the guy who can throw out would-be base stealers on occasion rather than one or two hopping every throw to second base, Ramon Castro, added three RBIs of his own.

In a move designed to spark some life into lifeless bats, Manager Willie moved David Wright in the No. 2 spot for the first time this season and started Brian Daubach at first over Doug Mientkiewicz. Daubach drew threw walks and scored twice, Wright managed only one hit but made it count with an rbi single just prior to Beltran's blast in the fifth.

Kris Benson (5-2) settled down after some early struggles to record his third straight victory. He allowed three runs on seven hits over six innings, walking two, striking out no one.

Newcomer Danny Graves demonstrated ample reason for even the lowly Cincinnati Reds to have dumped him, following a scoreless one-inning debut two nights ago by allowing four hits and three runs in a lone inning of "work" and nearly letting the A's back in a game that had been a laugh with a 9-3 lead. Braden Looper managed to save the game in the ninth, his 13th save of the season which now includes 12 attempts in a row.


Unreasonably happy to escape Oakland with a win, the Mets will now move northward to Seattle for the first time ever.

Kaz Ishii, who should never be allowed to pitch beyond the 5th inning as he sports his plus 15.00 ERA from the 6th inning on, will face the Mariners first. The Mariners just took 2 of 3 from the Phillies, proving the Mets weren't the only NL East team surprised by a lowly squad from the AL West.

Ishii versus Ichiro should have baseball fans in Japan swooning with pride and delight.

Jamie Moyer will pitch for Seattle and the Mets best chance will be to jump on him early as he sports a 7.11 ERA in the first inning.

Jose Reyes is currently on a 2 for 23 skid whilst waiting for Mike Cameron to return to the starting lineup and bump him from the leadoff spot.

Kaz Matsui, banged up by a hard slide into second by Jason Kendall, will likely miss at least the opening game of the series.


Losing To Losers Makes Your Team A Loser

Prior to last night's 3-2 loss to the Oakland A's there were 13 teams with losing records in the Major Leagues and Oakland was one of them. Now that the Mets have lost their second straight to a losing team, the Mets are a losing team as well, dropping below .500 for the first time since being swept by the Braves in Atlanta back on May 5th.

They stand at an uneven 32-33, have lost three in a row, 6 of 7 and have fallen 6 1/2 games behind the Washington Nationals in the National League East. Although 6 1/2 games is not insurmountable, it is a sign that things are not going in the right direction and sugarcoat as much as we'd would like, the Mets are headed in the wrong direction.

Sure, you can point to streak of 20 consecutive scoreless innings as a primary culprit; silent Met bats, lack of Met baserunners and no timely hitting have meant that the Mets have struggled mightily to score.

But really, this isn't the primary culprit. After all, the Atlanta Braves are ranked below the Mets in hitting which is no easy feat. The Braves are batting .246 to the Mets' .260, a significant difference, but the Braves have still outscored the Mets 286-278. The Mets have more homers, more walks, more stolen bases and a better on-base-percentage than the Braves so how do they score less runs?

Simple Braves mystique or because the Mets are well on their way to becoming a losing team?

Well, for starters, the Mets have struck out 447 times, third worst in the NL. Is that the main culprit? They rank 14th out of 16 team in On Base Percentage although again, higher than the Braves.

But there are other forces of evil at work.

Even when the Mets "roared" back last night to score two runs to tie the score in the 7th and end their scoring draught, you did not sense that this was the moment of vindication, merely a tease, a sample of what could have been.

Instead of building upon those runs, that rally, they slunk back into their funk until another loss to another losing team was almost inevitable. Were we more suprised that the A's won it in the 9th on Scutero's game-winning hit or that the Mets didn't blow it in the 8th when the A's had runners on 1st and 3rd with two outs and Royce Ring coming out of the pen?

So what precisely is this funk, this source of malaise, this inability to beat teams which, by record anyway, are inferior to the Mets?

It is the slow and gradual slide from a team of confidence, an aggressive team that expects to win, to a team which is merely waiting for a way to lose to reveal itself.

Yes, we can harp on and on about the lack of hitting. Since pounding the Giants 12-1 in the second game of a twilight doubleheader, the Mets have scored 19 runs over 8 games. That's just a little over 2 runs a game. How many teams win by averaging a little over 2 runs a game? None, that's how many. Not even the Atlanta Braves.

But perhaps the most revealing bit about the Mets so far this season is that they rank 15th out of 16 NL teams in fielding percentage and in errors committed, ahead of only the miserable Colorado Rockies.

More frustrating still is that the Mets have had, by and large, very good pitching over this same stretch. Last night, the notoriously wild Victor Zambrano worked 7 2/3 innings allowing only 5 hits and a pair of runs, lowering his ERA to 4.06. Over his last 7 starts, Zambrano has a 3.02 ERA: that's only 33 hits and 15 earned runs allowed over 44 2/3 innings. In other words, one of the Achilles Heel of our rotation appears to have been healed of his inability to find the strikezone.

Pedro is Pedro, Kris Benson is slowly maturing into an ace, Tom Glavine has rediscovered himself and Ishii has become the worst pitcher in a rotation that is really not that bad at all anymore. Almost good, you might say. They have the 8th best ERA in the National League although three of the teams ahead of them are in the NL East.

So perhaps the hitting will pick up in the course of the season and yes, the pitching appears to have righted itself but the Mets suffer from too many errors, the sort of problem that won't likely right itself during the course of the season.

The sort of the problem that could turn a potentially winning team into a losing one.


Now that the series has already been lost to the A's, Kris Benson will take the mound for the Mets in an effort to stop the bleeding, end the losing streak and set a better tone for their upcoming three game series at Seattle, another losing team.

Benson has won four of his past five decisions although away from Shea, he has allowed 9 runs in 15 innings of work. With the Pirates, Benson was 0-2 with a 7.84 ERA against Oakland.

After two successive weak showings against less-than-stellar A's starters, the Mets will try to wake up their bats against Ryan Glynn, RHP (0-2, 5.73).

After Archie Bunker's Army solved the problem of the weak-hitting first base position by calling for Brian Daubach to be called up from Norfolk, lo and behold, the Mets announced Daubach had been called up. Mere coincidence or simply pointing out the obvious?

Daubach did not see any action in Game Two against the A's which sort of defeats the purpose of calling him up to begin with but then again, he only arrived about 40 minutes before the first pitch. Although Mientkiewicz managed an RBI double last night to lift his batting average all the way up to .208, if I were managing the Mets, I'd see to it that Daubach got a start tonight.

The news is that Reyes' days are numbered as a lead-off hitter and that as soon as he is healthy Mike Cameron will take over.

Cameron's OBP of .426 versus Reyes' OBP of .286 makes this a sort of no-brainer.


Met Bats Asleep At The Plate, 5-0 Loss to A's Another Nail in the Coffin of Humiliation

Chalk it up to yet another somnabulistic performance at the plate. Only this time, the Mets couldn't find a way to hit against rookie Joe Blanton, who had been carrying a 9.25 ERA over his last 8 starts. Just the sort of starter you hammer to bust loose out of a prolonged hitting slump.

But not these Mets, not now. Instead, this was being kicked in the ribs after getting knocked to the ground with a forearm shiver. This is humiliation, watching your first 14 batters go down in order against a starter like Joe Blanton, watching a starter like Joe Blanton carry a perfect game into the 5th inning against you, watching that same Joe Blanton toss a 7 inning shutout against you and watching a rookie closer in Huston Street shut you down with one out and the bases loaded by inducing Victor Diaz into a rally-killing double play.

The Mets have now scored a mere 17 runs over their last 7 games, 5 of which, to no one's surprise, the Mets have lost. Although the starting pitching has been more than sufficient, Mets hitters seem to have lost their way.

The dangling question which grows daily is whether the time has come to start to wonder whose bat might be added to add some punch into the batting order.

Omar almost got it right this winter. His pursuit of Carlos Delgado was undertaken with the same desperation as that of Pedro and Carlos Beltran before him. But Delgado turned us down and Delgado, for those of you who like crying over spillt milk or thinking about the What Ifs in life, is hitting .329 with 13 homers and 46 RBIs, 20 doubles and a .424 OSP right now. Just think what that bat might look like in the Mets lineup.

I can't say I'd have done any differently in signing Doug Mientkiewicz as a back-up plan but good gawd, who would have expected this guy would be hitting .208 on the season and .132 with men in scoring position? These are Mark Belanger numbers for crissakes! No matter how good this guy as a fielding first baseman (and he ranks only 6th in the NL as a fielding first baseman), it can't possbily make up for his hitting.

Of the guys that rank higher than in fielding is Sean Casey of Cincy who is hitting .325 with 3 homers and 30 RBIs, Todd Helton, (rumoured to be available out of Colorado for the remainder of his $100 million plus contract) hitting .255 with 5 homers and 25 RBIs, Phil Nevin in San Diego hitting .266 with 9 homers and 45 RBIs, Nick Johnson of the Nats hitting .330 with 8 homers and 38 RBIs and finally, Derek Lee hitting .377 with 17 homers and 53 RBIs.

More ironic is that Delgado is ranked 10th among NL first basemen in fielding having made 4 more errors than Mientkiewicz in 15 more chances, so he isn't even really the worst fielding first baseman money can buy.

But the point of this isn't to bash Mientkiewicz - perhaps it isn't really isn't his fault he can't hit this season. After all, he seems genuinely upset at his rotten plate performance. And certainly he isn't the only Met to be batting well below expectation.

The point is his is the most glaring of all the holes in the Mets batting order and first base is the position traditionally where you might get the most power and hitting out of. Thus, it is his roster spot where you might begin looking for replacements.

Rather than panic and seek out ill-thought-out trades, the solution might be right under our twitching little noses:

another left handed hitting former Red Sox first baseman: Brian Daubach.

Daubach is hitting .363 for our AAA Norfolk Tides with 11 homers and 42 RBIs in 54 games, not to mention only 2 errors committed all season.

He would be precisely the sort of hitting injection the enemic Mets batting order could use right now, a temporary cavalry to attempt to overcome a team-wide hitting slump that injuries have exacerbated.

Yes, historically, a pretty weak hitter. Last season platooning with Mientiewicz for the Sox, he hit .227. The year before with the White Sox, he hit .230.

But again, we aren't talking about the guy who is going to resurrect the season, just a guy to help get us through a patch of pathetic hitting.


If you didn't mind waking up just before dawn to listen to the Mets stumble their way through their most recent humiliation, you might like even better the opportunity to listen to the ever-frustrating work in progress, Victor Zambrano, bumble his way through another start facing Danny Haren, RHP (4-7, 4.28).


The Nats rather strange victory puts the Mets now solidly in last place, 5 1/2 games behind. At 32-32, there are 9 teams in the National League with better records than the Mets and four of them are in the NL East unfortunately.

Meanwhile the second place Phillies have lost their lone left handed starter Randy Wolf, who had won his last five starts. He may require the dreaded Tommy John surgery.


Not Even Pedro Enough To Save Mets This Time

Although it wasn't really the most important story on Sunday, it is interesting to note that Mike Piazza finally came to life yesterday.

Actually, it's so rare to see Piazza inject a little fire into his game these days (when was the last time, a Spring Training game going Jack Nicholson on skinny little Guillermo Moto?), here's another photo of the argument that got him tossed in the first, perhaps the most entertaining aspect of Sunday's pathetic, groveling loss:

(photo removed for complaints, Mike too mean-looking, scaring the kids...)

How many different ways can we look at this most recent loss? Good job they won on Floyd's homer the night before otherwise this would have been an ugly sweep and the Mets would be staring at a 5 game losing streak?

Not even Pedro can save the Mets any more?

David Wright blows another game with his glove?

In the ninth inning, pinch-runner Robb Quinlan scored the winning run on an error by third baseman David Wright, who was unable to field a ground ball down the line. It was Wright's 11th error of the season and at least the third time his fielding miscues have had a heavy hand in a late-inning loss for the Mets.


Well, it was a loooong 12 game series, as long as you can imagine two weeks at home might be when you can't win consistently and seem to have the wind knocked out of you everytime you get close to something resembling a winning streak of consequence.

One night ago, Marlon Anderson faced Angels ace closer Francisco Rodriguez down a run in the bottom of the 9th and kicks back a game-tying in-the-park homerun to shock the Angels and Met fans alike.

Next night, Marlon Anderson faces Angels ace closer Francisco Rodriguez down a run in the bottom 9th and lined to second baseman Adam Kennedy. There you have it.

Just when the Mets had some momentum from the night before, when they had their opponent withering from the immensity of their two-time comeback in Saturday's game, they let one slip away with their ace on the mound.

Yes, that's right kids, not even Pedro could save the Mets from themselves on Sunday.

Although it wasn't his most stellar performance of the season, Pedro gave up three runs and six hits in seven innings. He walked four batters and struck out three. For alot of team aces, this would have been sufficient for a victory, especially since the Mets had been able to jump ahead to a 3-0 lead early on, but not for a Mets team that has scored three runs or less for the sixth time in the last eight games.

No, you'd need a rotation of Cy Young, Carl Hubbell and Walter Johnson to get through a spell of starvation hitting like that.

Cliff Floyd started the game off in the first as hot as the 10th inning of the night before when he knocked in another run to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. They later scored two more runs, one of which was knocked in by Pedro to give themselves the 3-0 lead you had to feel that experience and history would tell us spelled another Met victory with Pedro on the mound.

But then Pedro was a little less than Pedro yesterday. He allowed them a run back in the 5th after an Orlando Cabrera triple followed quickly by an Adam Kennedy single to make it 3-1.

Then a single, a double and a groundout consipired to give the Angels two more runs and tie the game at 3-3 before the ill-fated 9th inning.

Bradon Looper, who nearly tossed the game in the fire the day before in the 10th inning, actually did toss it in the 9th this game. After Roberto Hernandez replaced Pedro in the 8th and somehow managed to hold the Angels run-less despite giving up two hits, Looper came in the 9th for what ideally would have been another held inning to give the Mets the chance to score a run in the bottom of the 9th and pull out another miracle victory.

Instead, a walk, a sacrifice bunt and a ground out put an Angels runner on 3rd with two out, setting the stage for David Wright's error that gave the Angels the 4-3 lead they needed for victory.


So the Mets close out their massive homestand without much of a statement. 6 wins and 6 losses. A drop down to last place in the NL East with their 32-31 record which admittedly, doesn't mean too terribly much in a division with such closely knit teams.

Still, with the Nats reeling off a rather unbelieveable ten game winning streak and the Phillies suddenly winning 6 in a row and 9 of 10 themselves, the Mets, Marlins and Braves suddenly find themselves in an awkward position of chasing two teams no one gave much of a chance to. We all find it hard to believe that the Nats will keep winning at this same pace although the Phillies, who have underachieved for two or three years running, are more worrisome as a team.


Fortunately, they have a night to cool their heels and travel. Hopefully the next bit of fortune for the Mets will be the timely series against the lowly likes of the A's and the Mariners, even if they have to travel to the West Coast to do it.

Personally, I'm glad the Mets are finally going out on the West Coast. This homestand has exhausted me with so many games starting at midnight or 1 am here and it will be nice for a change, for starting times to begin at a more reasonable 4 in the morning.

Tom Glavine, LHP (4-5, 4.56) will start the opener against unspectacular Joe Blanton, RHP (1-6, 6.13).


And if you haven't heard the news, Shea Might Finally Be Shoved making way for some Met-financed retractable roof wonder which will make us forever forget one of the league's most hideous All Time stadiums.


Mets Use Extra Innings, Floyd For Victory

Unlike their loss a few games ago to the Astros in extra innings, the Mets were able to use their time wisely to wait for Cliff Floyd's two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning in a thrilling 9 pitch at-bat to give the Mets a very hard-fought 5-3 victory.

They were oh-so-close to never seeing the 10th inning to begin with. They were oh-so-close to dropping their fourth game in a row and turning their homestand into humiliation not to mention damaging their NL East position with a deep drop back to .500.

Instead, we were able to experience a thrilling comeback in the 9th inning when, down 2-1 with Angels nearly-unbeatable closer Francisco Rodriguez on the mound, Marlon Anderson, pinch-hitting for Chris Woodward, hit a gapper to right-center field that dropped and then bounced off Angels center fielder Steve Finley's leg like a pinball, and rolled toward the right-field corner.

Finley chased it down and relayed it to second baseman Adam Kennedy, who threw home, but Anderson was running the whole way and just beat catcher Jose Molina's tag for a rare, crowd-pleasing, game-tying inside-the-park home run. It was the first hit of its kind by a Met in Shea since Darryl Strawberry did it in May 1989 and the subsquent collision with Molina's catcher's mask caused Anderson a cut on the left side of his chin requiring three stitches:

The run in the 9th and the three runs in the 10th went a long way to erasing the wretched memories of an humiliating loss the night before. It also went a long way towards vindicating Kris Benson's sharp performance. Despite 7 innings of 4 hit ball, Benson was due to earn the loss because of two small runs earned in the 2nd and 5th innings respectively, the first coming off a double play and the second a sacrifice fly.

The Mets almost blew Anderson's dramatic play in the top of the 10th. Or rather, the Mets .206-hitting first baseman, Doug Mientkiewicz nearly blew Anderson's dramatic play in the top of the 10th. With two out, a runner on and the ever-shaky Braden Looper trying to keep the score tied, a slow-rolling grounder hit by pinch hitter Jeff DaVanon went under Mientekiewicz's glove. Ironically enough, Mientkiewicz was only in the game as a "defensive" substitution to begin with - to compound matters, Looper failed to cover first properly and the end result was a near-disaster.

Thereafter, Darin Erstad followed with a run-scoring single off Looper to give everyone the sinking feeling that Marlon Anderson's seemingly heroic inside-the-park-homer would be all for naught before Steve Finley ground into another ground out, this time handled properly by Kaz Matsui.

But then Flloyd, by going 2 for 5 with three runs batted in and the walk-off homer, and really being one of the only clutch hitters the Mets currently have in the batting order, was the real hero at the end of the night.


Pedro pitches for the Mets on Sunday which will likely lead us all into prolonged battles with fatiguing difficulties in trying to figure out how to write the same smarmy love songs about our beloved Pedro after another brilliant pitching performance without sounding the same as we did in the last one. Good work if you can find an ace to drive you to it.



12-2 loss to Angels hits new lows.

It took one can of Ishii and another can of Bartolo Colon but the two combined to earn the Mets their third straight loss and open the final series of their 12 game homestand with an ugly loss.

Ishii tired quickly by surrendering five of the six runs the Angels scored in the sixth to turn a tight game into a 12-2 blowout.

By contrast to his wretched finish, he started off by shutting down the Angels on two singles and a walk for five innings, striking out eight. He threw first-pitch strikes to 17 of the batters he faced in the first five innings. He had a 2-0 lead when he threw his first pitch in the sixth and well, we all felt comfortable to dream for several innings. But in the end, Ishii was beaten for the third time in four starts, proving with Zambrano to be the weakest links in the Mets starting rotation.

Colon held the Mets to two runs on seven hits over six innings earning his 8th win of the season against 3 losses and the fact that the Mets mustered nary a hit and certainly not a run against the little-used Joel Peralta nor the traditionally ineffective Esteban Yan, tells it in a nutshell, the losing end of the story.

Reliever Mike DeJean had another deleterious appearance, allowing two runs, four hits and throwing a wild pitch in a mere inning of work and joining in on the self-destructive part of the show, Manny Aybar returned to work a ninth inning littered with 5 earned runs three walks and two hits, one of which was a homerun, just to make sure the Mets wouldn't want to bother rising up in the bottom half of the 9th for a gallant sort of rally.


Even though we've lost three straight, we allow ourselves a glimmer of hope as the traditional neck savers, Benson and Pedro, will take the mound the next two games in what one hopes is a final winning pair to close out their 12 game homestand.


11 Innings Too Many, Mets Drop Another To Astros, 6-3

The game we're playing is called: Let's Find Another Way To Lose A Game. The rules are simple: you are the team with the great homefield record playing at home against a team that wins on the road about as often as a base runner gets thrown out stealing by Mike Piazza. Your goal is to lose as many games as possible to the inferior team by a maddening little number of ways and blow a perfect chance to keep pace in the chaotic traffic jam of the NL East. If you succeed, you are the NEW New York Mets.

Last night the Mets accumulated a new slate of headache inventions and missed opportunities.

The seemingly resuscitated Tom Glavine started the game as though he wanted to blow all the Mets' chances at once. The first four Astros he faced reached base -- a single by Chris Burke, who was caught stealing (because Mike Piazza is out injured and a "real" catcher, Ramon Castro, not merely a backstop was behind the plate in his place), a walk to Eric Brunlett and singles by Vizcaino and Berkman -- and produced a run. And just when we thought we could pull out the Glavine punching bag, he righted himself to retire 17 of 18 batters in allowing only one more base runner until the seventh.

In the meantime, David Wright, moved up in the batting order to 5th because the oh-so-not-so-mighty bat of Piazza was out of the lineup, homered in the 2nd to tie the score and then hit an RBI single in the 4th to give the Mets a 2-1 lead which you had to figure, against the Astros and having withstood the brunt of the Pettitte-Glavine pitching duel with a lead intact, should have spellt a victory for the Mets.

Instead, Glavine allowed a one-out double to Jason Lane in the 7th which was quickly exacerbated by Carlos Beltran's unfathonable mishandling of the ball and as he reached down to backhand it, it popped out of the webbing of his glove and flew behind him, allowing Lane, the tying run, a free trot to third.

This naturally necessitated the infield to draw in and although José Reyes managed a nice diving play on a liner for the second out, Brad Ausmus, who had been 1 for 36 against Glavine, pinched a double past first base to tie the score. That let the dogs out.

Pinch-hitter Craig Biggio then hit a groundball that bounced off Glavine's foot and caromed into shallow right field. Bad enough that he had broken toward the middle on contact with the ball and had no play at the plate, Kaz Matsui compounded the problem by failing to pick up the ball on first grasp. Ausmus scored and the miserable Astros suddenly had the lead.

Miraculously, Matsui was involved in the Mets' tying run in the 8th. As he was positioning to bunt, former Met Dan Wheeler hit Matsui on the foot with the pitch instead of throwing it over the plate. But home-plate umpire Gerry Davis didn't see it that way, or perhaps didn't see at all. He didn't award Matsui first base until he retrieved the ball and found shoe polish on it, a la the shoe polish ball of the 1969 World Series.

Matsui advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by pinch-hitter Miguel Cairo and to third on Jose Reyes' groundout. Mike Cameron then hit a grounder that shortstop Everett knocked down, but Everett's throw -- he had one knee on the ground -- was late and offline. Matsui scored on the single to tie the game and send it into extra innings.

So again the stage was set for the Mets to hurtle back from the trajectory of oblivion and again, they settled for losing, this time to a team who had yet to win an extra-inning game all season.

The details are almost too obscene to even mutter: Houston opened the 11th with three straight hits off Heath Bell (0-3). Jose Vizcaino and Lance Berkman singled before Ensberg doubled to left to make it 4-3. One out later, Everett singled to right to chase Bell and give the Astros their insurmountable 6-3 lead and eventual victory.

Why Heath Bell you ask? Why not see Bradon Looper blow it for us instead? Well, Looper had already pitched the 9th and 10th innings in admirable fashion and although Aaron Heilman could just as easily have gone in and shut the Astros down, Manager Willie opened himself up to a whole encyclopedia of second-guessing by choosing Bell as the sacrificial lamb instead.

"In my last four outings, I've gotten (two) losses," Bell said after the dust had settled. "I don't really feel like I'm helping the team right now. Maybe I'm trying too hard."

Or maybe Aaron Heilman should have been in there instead of you?

And to think, we are oh-so-close to having another tomato can coming out of the bullpen in the pitch-tipping Danny Graves. So many dubious outcomes to choose from.

Beltran and Wright had 5 of the Mets' 6 hits for the night whilst the rest of the batting order took the night off for a second night in a row and Beltran aggravated his sore right quadriceps running to first base in the eighth. He stayed in the game after stretching in the dugout, but he put himself at about 80 percent.


More bad news on the way: Having lost a series to the Houston Astros the Mets must now turn their attention to Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who lead the AL West and just took two of three from the Atlanta Braves. Bartolo Colon, RHP (7-3, 3.10) will face Kaz Ishii (1-4, 5.14) in the first game.

Colon hasn't lost since May 7 (an unbeaten streak of five straight starts) and has won his last two appearances, despite allowing nine earned runs and 22 hits over 13 innings. He is 2-1, with a 3.60 ERA lifetime in three career starts against the Mets, but 0-1 with a 6.00 career ERA at Shea Stadium.

Keep an eye out on Darin Erstad tonight. The Angels first baseman is the Angels' leading hitter against Ishii, with a .583 career average against the left-hander (7-for-12, with a double) and a .615 on-base percentage.


Mets Asphyxiate At The Plate, Lose To Astros 4-1

It takes quite a combined effort by the forces of evil and ineptitude for the Houston Astros to win on the road. Prior to last night the Astros had been 5-23 away from home whilst the Mets had been a league best 21-12 at Shea. Last night however, perhaps still intoxicated from Pedro's performance the night before, the Mets somnambulated through what should have been a nearly-impossible loss and dropped a game to the Astros 4-1.

The star statistic for the night was that the Mets went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Perhaps in response, in a move that will no doubt have everyone catching their breath with disbelief, the Mets inked 36-year-old Jose Offerman to a minor league contract. The strikeout king of Latin America hit .182 with one home run and three RBI in 33 games with the Philadelphia Phillies this year before he was designated for assignment on May 20. Just the medicine we needed.

Nevertheless, in a weird Zambranoesque performance, Astros starter Brandon Backe allowed only four hits but walked a career-high six batters and added two wild pitches to boot over six innings.

Oddly enough, the man known for such performances, our very own Victor Zambrano, was decidedly un-Zambranoesque, retiring the first 10 batters he faced and pitching perfectly through the first 3 1/3 innings. All for naught however. In Zambrano's last five starts, the Mets have scored a total of eight runs. His record is 1-3 in those games, but his earned run average is 2.87.

And yet all of these forces coming together were not enough for the Mets to pinch out another victory and keep pace with the NL East leading Nats.

Morgan Ensberg's infield single with two outs in the sixth snapped a 1-1 tie and Jason Lane followed with an RBI double. In the seventh, Orlando Palmeiro hit a pinch-hit homer off Heath Bell. And that was pretty much it.

Not only did the Mets lose, but Mike Piazza got hit with a foul tip in the top of the first inning but remained in the game until his spot came up in the bottom half, when backup catcher Ramon Castro took his place. Will this be the Wally Pipp moment we've all been waiting for? One can only hope.

Worse still, Cliff Floyd nearly bailed out in the third inning when his left hand was spiked on a slide into second. The news so far is that he will continue to play but knowing Floyd, it's just a matter of time before something like this takes him down for his annual visit to the DL.

For those of you in the crowd who like conspiracy theories, note that last night wasn't the only time the Mets have failed to hit in the clutch. For the season, here are the RISP averages of our favourites:

Beltran .314
Floyd .281
Wright .269
Reyes .255
Cameron .238
Piazza .237
Matsui .220
Mank .135

These certainly aren't grounds for panic but there's no doubt that a team that hits like that with runners in scoring position all season are not going to last much later than the All Star break, even if the starting pitching is beginning to take on a semblance of form and competence lately.


In NL East news, the Philadelphia Phillies acquired reliever Ugueth Urbina from the Detroit Tigers for infielder Placido Polanco on Wednesday Urbina, who helped the Florida Marlins win the World Series in 2003, is 1-3 with nine saves and a 2.63 ERA in 25 games. He hasn't allowed a run in his last 10 innings. Guess we can settle for Danny Graves.

The NL East has done an almost complete flip flop from a few weeks ago. The Nats are in first place, the Phillies are in second place, the Braves and Mets are tied for third and the Marlins are bringing up the rear 2 1/2 games behind.


Tonight will pit two starters who might be back into the airs of ascendancy after slow starts. Andy Pettitte is 3-6 this season with a 3.47 ERA and is 6-2 with a 3.76 ERA over 13 career starts against the Mets.

And his opponent, Tom Glavine, we can hope anyway, has recovered from whatever it was that turned him from a potential Hall of Fame pitcher into crap overnight. In five starts, beginning May 13, he won three times, allowed one run in 6 innings of a no-decision and lost when he pitched six shutout innings. His ERA in that span, including the four runs he allowed in two-thirds of the seventh inning against the Braves, is 2.43.


Pedro Es Magnifico - Nearly No Hits Astros, 3-1

It's something you might have almost expected with Pedro taking the mound against the weak hitting Houston Astros, who had a .244 team batting average coming in, tied for last in the majors with Cleveland, and whose 439 hits and 201 runs were the lowest in the majors. The Astros are now 4-24 when their opponent scores first.

For the first six and a third innings anyway, Pedro outpitched even our own steadily increasing expectations by no-hitting the Astros until Chris Burke, a lifetime .177, going into last night's game, hit the first homerun of his career, spoiling the no-no and the shutout in one swing. Suprisingly, instead of pelting him with curses and garbage as he rounded the bases, Shea fans instead chanted Pedro's name in recognition of his near no-no.

Although disappointing that he wasn't able to complete the first no-hitter in Mets history, Pedro was nonetheless dominating, allowing only two hits all night whilst striking out 12 in pitching his second complete game for the Mets of the season and the 44th of his career. Incredibly, of the 110 pitches he threw, 80 were for strikes. And the blip in the 7th inning, when he allowed the only two hits of the game, was just that, a blip. He went on to retire the game's final seven batters, striking out the final four batters he faced.

Typical were back-to-back strikeouts of Berkman and Morgan Ensberg to open the fifth inning. He got two-strike counts on fastballs and struck out both hitters with changeups.

In addition to his pitching gem, Pedro also singled and scored the Mets' second run in the 5th inning to help give the Mets all the runs they'd need in victory. It was his second hit in as many starts

Of Martínez's 88 innings this season, he has retired the side 49 times - 55.7 percent, the best in baseball. Not sick of Pedro-by-the-numbers yet? This was his fourth double-digit strikeout game this season and the 103rd of his career, which ranks fourth behind Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens. Martínez is now 7-1 with a 2.45 earned run average this season.


Pedro's wonderboy, Carlos Beltran continued his torrid hitting with Pedro on the Mound with two hits in four trips and is now 19-for-43 (.442) in games started by Martinez.

Cameron, Beltran and Cliff Floyd all had two hits in the 2-3-4 spots last night, hitting a collective 6 for 11 on the night. Kaz Matsui also had two hits and owed primarily to Pedro's dominance, Mike Piazza didn't allow a single runner to make a fool of him on the basepaths and not once did he need to unveil his blanks-firing arm.


It wasn't all fun and games and happy shiny people for the Mets. Astros starter Roy Oswalt (6-7), who allowed a career-high 12 hits in 6 2/3 innings, hit Cliff Floyd in the arm with a pitch with two out in the bottom of the 7th, nearly sparking a benches-clearing brawl. Floyd, who was hit by Oswalt last season after belting a grand slam, took a step toward the mound, gesturing toward the Houston pitcher before getting hold of himself.

"I know one thing -- he hits people in situations like that," said Floyd, still pissed off more than an hour later. "It's going to get him or someone on his team hurt. ... When you do stupid stuff you take a chance of hurting someone. What if he had hit me in the elbow and ended my season?"

Yeah, especially hitting a guy like Cliff Floyd who is already as fragile as spidersilk as it is. A strong wind has been know to injure Floyd.


The Mets (31-27) moved to four games over .500 for the first time this season although they remain a game behind the still front-running Washington Nats in the National League East. They have now won 8 of their last 10 games and 5 of 8 on the homestand to date.


I have to admit, I'm not one of those who gets excited about the baseball draft. Too often the top picks blow it, too often the selections are meaningless and too much is there guess work. I acknowledge the efforts of MLB and all the sports media lackies who endeavor to create some sort of artificial excitement out of overdrawn coverage, but for me the MLB draft is essentially meaningelss. That it comes in mid-season is proof enough.

Nevertheless, let's all get goose pimples over the Mets first pick this season, 6 foot 7, 210 pound Mike Pelfrey, a 21-year-old right-handed starting pitcher from Wichita State, that bastion of pitching history.

Widely regarded as the most promising starting pitching prospect in the nation, Pelfrey was the third pitcher chosen in the first round, behind left-handed Ricky Romero of Cal State Fullerton and Wade Townsend, formerly of Rice.

In the Universe of Useless Stats you can note that he had an 11-2 record and 1.47 ERA in 16 games this season, his junior season, with Wichita State. He struck out 121 batters in 117 innings, allowed 24 walks and 75 hits. Hang on, let's give you everything! In 52 games at Wichita State, Pelfrey went 33-7 with a 2.18 earned run average. He had 14 complete games in three years.

I'll be impressed if he's still in the organisation in three years.

Meanwhile, keeping it All in the Family, the Astros picked ace Astros pitcher Roger Clemens' oldest son, Koby, with the 254th overall pick in yesterday's Major League Baseball Draft.


More interesting was that the Mets signed righty reliever Danny Graves yesterday.

Graves was released by the Reds for making some obscene gesture to the fans after saving 10 games for the Reds already this season. How he did that with an ERA of 7.36 in 20 appearances is beyond me but he will be the Mets de-facto set up man for Bradon Looper.


On the menu tonight is filet of Zambrano who pitches against righty Brandon Backe,(5-3, 4.54).


One In The Loser's Bin, One Keeper: Mets Split TwiNight

Alright kids, watch out now. Archie Bunker's Army has finally learnt how to use the dreaded html for images:


You might say that Ishii deserved this loss (even though it is the other Kaz pictured walking back dejectedly from another strikeout). 6th inning, down 2-1, two outs, men on second and third and Yorvit Torrealba is intentionally and sensibly walked to load the bases for Giants pitcher Brett Tomko. Actually, Tomko was hitting .160 up to that point, not bad for a pitcher, Mientkiewicz numbers. But with the bases loaded and the game on the line, it's Ishii's job to do the business, get the bloody pitcher out and end the inning. Instead, Tomko hits a three run double off of Ishii, suddenly it's 5-1 and the game is lost. Ishii's ERA is up to 5.14 so it's safe to say, not every starter in this rotation is a star right now.

The Mets tried to make it a game in the bottom of the 9th with Cub reject LaTroy Hawkins waddling in from the bullpen after Mientkiewicz's lead off double. Victor Diaz singled him to third and then Chris Woodward singled to make it 6-2, men on first and third, still none out, bye bye LaTroy.

Jose Reyes then manages to knock Diaz home on fielder's choice grounder to the middle of the infield. Mike Cameron strikes out swinging for the second out before Carlos Beltran singles to send Reyes to third. Chances are still alive but unfortunately, it's Mike Piazza to the plate. Ground out. End of game. Rally snuffed, Mets winning streak halted.

PS: Unlike some, I am not going to weave ebullientic about Ishii's skills at the plate. When he gets two hits AND throws a couple game shutout, I'll be wowed. Until then, let's leave the hitting to hitters and focus on not giving UP hits. (Ishii gave up 10 last night in 6 1/3 innings and a 10-2 ration is just not what we're looking for.)


Carlos Beltran put us on notice straight away that this wasn't going to be a team getting swept in their first doubleheader of the season when he reached up to rob Michael Tucker of a homerun for the first out of the game.

It more than made up for his strange sort-of misplay of Grissom's fly ball with his torn right quadriceps in the 6th inning of Game One and was the first pin-pop of the balloon of Giant hopes of winning this series.

From there, Mets hitters and Kris Benson did the rest. 13 hits, 12 runs, two homers by Cliff Floyd, one by Victor Diaz and another by David Wright were more than sufficient to break the Giants' spirit (and oooh, weren't you thinking to yourself when the Mets went up 9-1 in the 5th inning, "I wish Maddog Russo were here so he could take another kick of derision at his wretched Giants" and then, like me, gave pause and thought, naaah, watching the Giants lose 162 in a row wouldn't be worth an hour of listening to that hysterical little muppet prattle on...).

Yes, David Wright managed his second error of the day in Game Two to tie him for inefficiency with the Phillies David Bell and it is a bit worrisome that he's still managed to help blow more games with his fielding than he's won with his bat.

But more importantly, Kris Benson who had a double himself to go along with a bases-loaded walk, threw 7 innings of 3 hit ball and lowered his ERA to 3.74 in earning his 4th win of the season.

So the Mets took the series, their third series victory in a row, have earned a night off and then move on to face the lowly Astros who will not have Clemens pitching for them in this series. They've won 7 of their last 10 games and are a game behind the (are you ready for this?!) the Washington Nats for first place in the NL East.


Coming up against the Astros on Tuesday night, Roy Oswalt, RHP (6-6, 3.06) faces El Pedro in Game One of a three game series. Zambrano gets a favourable matchup the following night against Brandon Backe, RHP (5-3, 4.54). Each of Backe's three losses this year have come on the road.

To close it out on Thursday night, Andy Pettitte, LHP (3-6, 3.47) faces what we all hope is the new and improved Tom Glavine of old.


Nota bene: Check out the Mets Geek Bloggers Roundtable for a reaction to the Mets' season so far.


Glavines Hunting Wabbits Again - Mets Top Giants, 5-1

Shhhh. Be vewy, vewy quiet because we don't want to distract him but with a 3-1 record and a 2.16 ERA in his past five starts, it might almost begin to look like Tom Glavine has finally found his way back from brink of the end of his career that he has wandered so perilously close to since last year's All Star break, has regained his touch and added a useful arm to the Mets starting rotation that it didn't have a month ago.

Last night's performance against the Giants was yet another small stone in the foundation's wall: 7 2/3 innings a mere run and no walks surrendered. Yes, a handful of hits but coming against a team that had hit into 56 double plays over 53 game like the Giants had, it might not have been such a big deal after all.

There was one or two rough patches, sure: it took a stupidly ignored stop sign that Deivi Cruz ran through at third base to get thrown out at the plate in the top of the first inning and prevent the Giants from scoring first. Then Moises Alou blasted a homerun in the 4th to tie the game, but for the better majority of the game, Tom Glavine was the man in charge.

Prior to last season's All Star break, before anyone would have imagined in their wildest dreams that Pedro would be our ace, Glavine had a 2.66 ERA over 19 starts and hitters were batting only .222 against him.

This might be some sort of temporary condition, the brief recovery before the final fatal breath is drawn on his career but if it could possibly prolong this stint of good fortune, the Mets have a formidable 1-2-3 starting rotation, one of the most formidable in the NL East.

But not even Glavine's performance was the surprise of the 5-1 victory.

That came in the bottom of the fifth inning when with none out and Jose Reyes dancing off second and Mike Cameron on first, Carlos Beltran came to the plate for a chance to earn some of that $119 million salary with Mike Piazza on deck. Instead of driving them in, he moved them over with a sacrifice bunt.

Well and pretty baseball you'd think except for the fact that Beltran is paid to drive them home not set the up for a plunky hitter like Mike Piazza to strike out swinging for instead. But Beltran has more faith in Piazza than I do and Piazza rewarded that faith by lunging at a change up that he was able to bloop into shallow left field to score both Reyes and Cameron. The icebreaker of the game in fact, a bit of luck of course, which Piazza will surely take anyway he can get it these days and enough, with Glavine pitching instead of blaming umpires, to give the Mets a victory.

Manager Willie was a calm as you'd expect him to be about an unexpected bunt he never called for. "Just because Carlos Beltran makes a lot of money, and we expect him to hit home runs all the time, that's not really all he can do."

It worked out somehow in the end, as it does when you're on a roll, just like it doesn't when you're running cold and beginning to doubt yourself as Glavine surely has and Piazza probably should be during the course of this season as it has thus far transpired. For now, the Mets have their third victory in a row, have juiced their record up to 29-26 and move within one game of first place in the NL East.

All this despite Pisshands Alou going 4 for 4 for the day with a single, double and homer for the only run by San Francisco. Alou, after a slow start due to injury and illness, has slammed seven homers in his last 13 games and raised his average to .301, the Bonds Lite for a thankfully Bonds-less team who have now lost eight in a row.


In yesterday's pregame interview with Manager Willie, it was revealed that Miguel Cairo may get some work in at first base this weekend. I didn't even know Cairo played first base frankly but you've got to wonder what Mientkiewicz feels like at this point, first benched in favour of a utility player who usually plays in the middle infield or outfield and then perhaps benched in favour of a backup second baseman who is STILL less of a headache at the plate than Mank. Not to mention his missus getting on his case as well - oh, I feel for that guy. Maybe he'll hit a pinch hit homer in one of the Sunday's games.

Sunday's traditional doubleheader will feature Brett Tomko (4-7 4.14) against Kaz Ishii (1-3 4.79) in the first game. Tomko is 3-6 with a 5.83 ERA lifetime against the Mets and Ishii is 2-2 with a 4.95 ERA lifetime against the Giants. There's no telling what kind of lineup Manager Willie is going to go with with a pair of games to play.

Certainly Piazza will sit out at least one of those games giving Ramon Castro his first start since coming off the DL. Will the hotter hitting Chris Woodward continue his duties at first? Cairo will be back but where? Second base, first base? How many of the two games will Victor Diaz start? Will Cameron play centerfield to give the still hurting Carlos Beltran a rest in one of the games?

The night game of the doubleheader will see the once-formidable Jason Schmidt (3-1 5.08) against Mr Anna Benson, (3-2 4.21) - for the record, neither pitchers performance against their respective opponents will tell us much. Schmidt is 3-4 with a 4.09 ERA lifetime against the Mets and Benson has a career 4.57 ERA against the Giants - we won't go into his record though as well, he pitched for the Pirates in most of those starts and well, you can't really hold that against him.


Bimbos and Rain Keep Giants At Bay

"The Ice Man's mule is parked
Outside the bar
Where a man with missing fingers
Plays a strange guitar
And the German dwarf
Dances with the butcher's son
And a little rain never hurt no one
And a little rain never hurt no one"

-- Tom Waits, A Little Rain

With the Mets-Giants opener rained out last night, we had a little time to catch up on some reading, and must-read reading it was for although I'd seen the fleshy shots of the partially clad Anna Benson and read of her threats on the Howard Stern show to sleep with all of hubby Kris' teammates if he was ever unfaithful to her, never before had I been allowed such insight into the bimbonic machinery of the Anna Benson brain at work until I came across this piece in the New Yorker for a little rainy day reading.

I try to imagine what goes on in the mind of a pitcher who comes home from a night at the park to listen to this sort of intellectual wind-breaking from his "better half":

"This is Petunia, only twelve weeks old," Anna introduced, scooping up scooped up a tiny, pinkish French bulldog wearing a black Mets sweater. "I saw her last week in a pet shop. I couldn’t resist. I have four other French bulldogs at home in Georgia. Kris loves Petunia. He wants Petunia to come with me to the game, along with the kids here—Paul James, we call him P.J., he’s eight and a half, and Haylee Love, she’s four and a half. Kris and I’ll have another one or two or three. I’ll just whip them out.

Because it was already on my mind, her french bulldog confession (have two or three more what, children? french bulldogs? lobotomies?...) reminded me of the line in Frank's Wild Years:

"his wife was a spent piece of used jet trash
made good bloody marys
kept her mouth shut most of the time
had a little Chihuahua named Carlos
that had some kind of skin disease
and was totally blind."


The article became more revealing of the apparent ongoing insanity in the Benson household when she revealed, in comparision to hubby Kris' stint on the DL that:

"I have toe trouble from my strip-dancing days. But I don’t want any more bungled surgery. I don’t want them to touch me. I did only one cosmetic-surgery thing: I had breast implants. After having three kids, I felt I deserved it. Kris doesn’t want me to have plastic surgery on my face. He says, ‘Don’t let them do any of that crap to you; you’re too pretty."

Toe trouble from my strip-dancing days. Don't let them do any of that crap to you, as if there are hit squads of plastic surgeons all around the city just waiting to kidnap her, tie her down and disfigure her. She really should be writing sitcom dialogues for some television reality show rather than wasting all this good material on the stiff production like the New Yorker.

It was an odd contrast this week with Doug Mientkiewicz's confession that his wife Jodi, sans cosmetic surgery, said to him "You are a good player. Hopefully someday you'll show these people you can play. You're a much better player than this. I'm tired of watching this."

Yeah, not enough headaches hitting less than your weight and getting benched in favour of a utilityman infielder but Mientkiewicz also gets to have his missus kick him whilst he's down, toss a little dirt on him, point out the obvious, screw his head on a little tighter...

But getting back to the number one act in the Mets Crazy Wives Club, Anna relates the tale of how she and Kris first hooked up:

"We had that immediate physical attraction for each other. But I wouldn’t sleep with him. I wouldn’t introduce him to my family or to my child. I made him work hard. I made him suffer. You have to make them suffer.

You have to make them suffer, she says. Like listening to her droning on about herself isn't punishment enough already. Thus we gain a little insight into Kris Benson as well. Either he's incredibly stupid or something like the ultimate masochist.

"I was terrible until I got with Kris." Anna confesses as though this miraculous transformation would be apparent to anyone who met her today, the post-Kris Anna rather than the pre-Kris Anna. "He put the glow on me. He’s the most real person I know. Kris can do self-hypnosis, he’s so in tune with his body. When I came to him, I had nothing—two pairs of panties and one bra. Suddenly, I found I was married to a millionaire."

Imagine what a pair of fake tits can do for you these days.

Finally, as we near exhaustion with the topic of herself she reveals the more compassionate side of herself, the non-Anna-obsessed-Anna:

"Before we were with the Mets, when players tried to boss me around I told them, ‘You’re not my daddy!’ I don’t give a shit. I don’t care that much about baseball. I want to do many other things. I’m a humanitarian and a philanthropist. When I’m in New York, I go out by myself and talk to the homeless on the street. I listen to them. I want to hear their stories. I want to talk about today’s issues."

Can you just see Anna Benson talking to homeless people on the streets about "today's issues"?


You've really got to look at Kris Benson in a whole new light after reading this interview. How he can ever focus on pitching with a bimbo nutjob like her carping on in his ear every day is quite simply some sort of miracle of concentration worthy of scientific study.


Happy to see that because of the rainout, we'll get a rare, old-fashioned doubleheader treat on Sunday - the first game I'll have to listen to on the radio but the second game will be the Sunday night game which is broadcast here live on an ESPN feed every week, so I'll get the rare treat of watching the Mets on the telly albeit starting at around 1 in the morning...


Who's The Daddy Of The National League? Pedro Pitches Mets Past D'Backs 6-1

"He's one of the fiercest competitors you'll ever see. He's incredibly special. He's Pedro. One of those people you know by one name. Pedro, Elvis, Bruce, Ali..." - Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson disseminating the growing legend of Pedro Martinez.

It's nice having an ace. For years we've survived on a bland diet of banality from the likes of the Al Leiters, Tom Glavines, Pedro Estacios, Kevin Appiers, Glendon Rusch's, Rick Reeds of the world, and now we stand at the buffet of Pedro where one heaping dollop of great pitching follows another. We finally have a pitcher whom the rest of the league follows, covets and even admires.

And we can say we have something that the Red Sox and Yankees both wish they had right now: a dependable ace to steer them through the choppy waters of an inconsistent season.

Last night with the first series of a 12 game homestand hanging in the balance, Pedro once again put on a performance worthy of all the hype his signing attracted: 8 innings, 101 pitches, 79 for strikes, 5 hits, one run and 9 strikeouts. He even withstood an incomprehensible sprinkler system drenching in the first inning which he took in typical Pedro fashion, dancing and slurping it up for the fans and his mates, the acts of a man who remembers the boy sitting under mango tree without 50 cents to pay for the bus before he goes out and tosses another gem. For good measure, he even collected his first hit since Sept. 4, 1997, (when he tripled for Montreal off Philadelphia's Matt Beech), snapping a 0-for-58 skid with a single.

As has been his habit since joining the Mets, the other annointed one, Carlos Beltran, saved the homers in his bat for Pedro, hitting one in the 4th inning off Estes to tie the score, his 7th homer of the season, ALL of which have come in a game Pedro was pitching. In fact, Beltran is hitting .436 (17-for-39) in games Pedro pitches in. And isn't it ironic, the two coverboys of the New Mets taking so many games by the throat and leading the Mets beyond the stasis of their traditional mediciocrity?

After a second inning homer by Tony Clark gave the Diamondbacks a 1-0 lead, the Mets, as they always seem to do when Pedro surrenders an early run or two, stormed back to give him a lead to hold.

In the 4th, after a combination of errors, walks, doubles, singles and Beltran's early homer, the Mets scored 3 runs, enough of a cushion for the rest for the rest of the game as it turned out. Matsui's two-run double in the 6th sealed it for certain and allowed me to go to bed at 3 in the morning with the belief that not even the bullpen would blow a 6-1 lead.

And they didn't. Of course, Koo, our only lefty in the pen, the Krazy Korean who has pitched so poorly his last several outings, is on the DL. It is a relief to note there was a reason for the last two games he's blown for the Mets; a bruised left rotator cuff which happened all the way back against the Yankees, suffered during his nearly-infamous head-first slide at home which he never told them about, presumbably because he is the stoic type, not a Piazza sort who will beg out of a game at the first twinge of fatigue or discomfort or perhaps just because there aren't enough Korean translators on the team - in any event, Koo has been replaced by another left-hander, Royce Ring called up to the mothership from Norfolk which, if you've ever been in Norfolk before, must have been a massive relief to Royce, whether for the protypical cup of coffee or an entire Starbucks franchise. We could use another lefty out of the pen, even when Koo returns.

In any case, no lefty was needed. Manger Willie decided to give Aaron Heilman a little work instead. Heilman, who hasn't allowed any of his eight inherited runners to score since coming out of the bullpen instead of starting, allowed consecutive singles to Troy Glaus and Shawn Green after striking out Luis Gonzalez but escaped the top of the 9th without further incident, setting the Met victory in stone as well as the series win, their second straight against a winning team.

This victory doesn't define the season but it is a smidgeon of momentum for the rest of the homestand and might possibly kick-off, considering the competition coming up on the homestand in the form of the Giants and weak-hitting Astros before the "now we're LA now we're Anaheim" Angels, a prolonged stretch of success to keep us in the NL East race. As it stands now, with the Braves having lost again to the Nats and the Marlins and Phillies both keeping pace, the Mets are a mere game and a half out of first place.


Tonight they begin a three game series against the Barry Bonds-less San Francisco Giants with Tom Glavine 3-5 5.05 taking the mound to face the relatively unheralded Noah Lowry (2-5 5.37) - Glavine has pitched well enough in his last four starts giving us hints and indications that perhaps he's mastered himself enough not to be an embrassment. He will rarily if ever have brilliant outings again (suffering from Al Leiter Disease, it appears) but he historically, he's pitched well against the Giants, allowing only one run over 15 1/3 innings in two victories over the last three years without a loss.

The scouting report on Lowry notes he "is now in a good groove, sporting a 1.93 ERA over his last two outings and going seven innings each time. The second-year star's vaunted changeup had been up in the zone and hitters were keying on other pitches, but he's been sharper lately."

The rest of the series will likely see Brett Tomko, RHP (4-7, 4.14) pitching against Ishii (1-3, 4.79), fresh off his first victory as a Met and then the once-formidable now predictably disabled Jason Schmidt (remember how many games he pitched last season well over 110 pitches?) against our hopeful second ace-in-the-making, Kris Benson.