Mets Return To Normal, Lose To Braves, 2-1

From the onset this game had the one primary ingredient that dictated the high probabibility of a Met loss: Tom Glavine starting against his former team.

Proving last night that the Opening Game's dramatic victory over the Braves was more a brief hallucination than a burgeoning new reality, the Mets, after a bad-hopping grounder bounded off Jose Reyes' bare hand, bloodied his ring finger and allowed the go-ahead run, were back on familiar grounds, losing to hated rivals, the Atlanta Braves, this time by a 2-1 margin.

For a few seconds last night, as David Wright's long fly to deep right fell short of becoming his second homer of the game, we caught our collective breath in hope that the impossible could become possible for the second night in a row. Not a chance. Last night, the Mets-Braves series, so many years the pentultimate bile of frustration, returned to normal. The Braves getting the breaks, the Mets making the excuses.

It wasn't even Tom Glavine's fault this time. Pitching against former teammate John Smoltz, they ended their respective outings with NEARLY identical seven-inning lines: 7 innings pitched and one earned run surrendered. The difference of course, was that Smoltz ended up with his 10th victory of the season and Glavine ended up with nothing but his self-respect intact. Smoltz threw 104 pitches, 67 for strikes, walked one and struck out five. Glavine threw 99 pitches, 59 for strikes, walked four (two of which were intentional) and struck out two.

Sure, David Wright continued to smolder in this nacent second half, smacking a second-inning homer off Smoltz to give the Mets a 1-0 lead we all instinctively knew wouldn't last, but the regularity with which the Braves dispense of the Mets and the Mets disappoint their fans, is enough to stoke the nausea that not even a brief lead can relieve.

Down 2-1 in the bottom of the 8th, Smoltz was finally taken out of the game much to Shea's relief and replaced by none other than the bane of the Braves bullpen this season, Dan Kolb, who has since been demoted from closer to set-up man.

Kolb allowed a lead off single against Jose Reyes and before he had a chance to rattle Kolb and steal second base to put the tying run in scoring position, Mike Cameron grounded into an easy double play that ground our early hopes like a smoldering non-filtered Camel into an ashtray.

Other than Wright's near-homer off Reitsma in the 9th, that was it. A typical ending to a typical story. The story, for at least the past decade, that the Mets, no matter the year, no matter the rosters, will find a way to lose to the Braves.


Rotating Faces

Instead of blockbuster trades, the Mets announced Doug Mientkiewicz was being activated from the disabled list and that they had purchased right handed pitcher Juan Padilla's contract from Triple-A Norfolk.

The Mets also optioned lefty reliever Royce Ring to the Tides and not surprisingly, designated the disappointing Brian Daubach for assignment. Mank for Daubach and Padilla for Ring. Not groundbreaking news, is it? Mank was hitting only .219 with nine homers and 24 RBIs before mercifully, he was injured, although, you could argue that he almost appeared to be find his hitting stroke just before, having gone 8-for-28 with two homers and seven RBIs in eight games before his injury. If this is to be the Mets season, which all signs indicate, it is not, a suddenly hot-hitting Mank in the lower half of the lineup could be a boost they need. Any boost, really.

Although Ring has plenty of promise, he had a 5.06 ERA with an 0-2 record in his stint with the Mets this season while Padilla, 28, was 3-2 with 11 saves and a 1.44 ERA in 36 games in the minors.



Not to sound pessimistic, but regardless of how this series effects their position in the buyers/sellers market, maybe the Mets ought to listen to those bids for Cameron after all. After his early fling with batting success, Cameron is back to his normal formula and is 9 for 55 in July, hitting .167 with a rather putrid .207 OBP.

Having his glove in rightfield is a nice but with the Mets struggling most of the season at the plate, the last thing they need is a Cameron who can't even hit his weight and almost never gets on base. We have enough black holes in the lineup already and if some desperate team is willing to overpay for Cameron, by all means, now is the time to unload him before the rest of the season bares his incomprehensible hitting for the absurdist futility that it is and his market value drops back down to where it belongs.

It would allow the Mets to bring Victor Diaz back into the daily lineup and stop this sadistic experiment with him at first base down in Norfolk. Not to mention, whatever the Mets are able to fetch for Cameron, be that prospects, bullpen assistance or, dare we dream, a first baseman who can hit over .200 and add some power to the lineup, could be a much-needed boost and an indication to the team just what General Manager Omar envisions for them this season.

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