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.

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