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.

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