Pedro Goes Mortal, Padres Drop Mets, 8-3

"Everybody has an off-day -- today was mine,", the Mighty Martinez said following the loss that broke the momentum of the Mets three game winning streak.

Of course even his off days are not as profound as say a Tom Glavine off-day or a Kaz Ishii off-day or even a Victor Zambrano off-day, where the runs and hits mount like points on a pinball machine with a manic flipper. He surrendered five runs in five innings of work, his shortest outing since gracing the Mets starting rotation. He also gave up nine hits, including two home runs, three doubles and a triple. The result of course, the Padres paying back the Mets to an 8-3 tune.

How unexpected was this though when you consider the Mets are 11 games under .500 on the road and have fewer road wins than everyone in the league except Colorado and Cincinnati.

Worse still, they have 29 road games remaining -- more than everybody in the league except the Phillies (30), Cardinals (30) and Reds (32). And once they finish up here and have their next homestand, they'll be back out west again on Aug. 22, when they begin a seven-game trip to Arizona and San Francisco.

You might say this is the death knell and of course, the only possible method of getting to the postseason will be winning on the road so its up to Manager Willie to solve this little rubric and figure out just what it is the Mets dislike so much about being away from home. Are they missing the noise of the flights flying over Shea from La Guardia?

"The road's been our weak spot, of course. Everybody knows it," left fielder Cliff Floyd points out uselessly. "When we go on the road, we've got to start playing right. It's too late in the season to start having meltdowns and stuff like that just because we're on the road."

I love this kind of insight. If these guys weren't getting paid millions to play baseball just imagine their potential as arm chair philosophers.

The news was bad, ok, we admit it. But on the bright side, Met pinch hitters are still on a record-setting pace. The two pinch hits last night increased their pinch-hitting average by nine points to .353, the highest in the Major Leagues and seven points higher than the big-league record.

The pinch-hitters of the 1927 Cardinals batted .346. They had 36 hits in 104 at-bats. The Mets began play Wednesday with 47 hits, the most in the game, in 133 pinch-hit at-bats.

The single-season team record for pinch-hits is 81, established by the 1992 Dodgers, who had Dave Hansen, Lenny Harris and Mike Sharperson coming off the bench. The most pinch-hits by a Mets team are the 75 produced by the 1993 team that lost 103 games and had merely three regular players -- Bobby Bonilla (502 at-bats), Jeff Kent (496) and Eddie Murray (610). That team had to pinch-hit. It had 271 pinch-hit at-bats.

But there just weren't enough pinch hitters early on in the lineup as the Chan Ho Park, the pitcher that time forgot who entered with a 5.84 earned run average, nearly as repulsive as his $70 million contract, struck out eight batters and allowed only two runs in five and two-thirds innings.


The highlight of the evening for the Mets was the staggaring, barehand catch David Wright made in shallow left field in the seventh inning to take a bloop hit away from Brian Giles. With the bases empty, Giles lofted a soft fly to the opposite field, and Wright caught the ball with the opposite hand.

"I told him, 'Go play defense without your glove,'" Doug Mientkiewicz said. "'You'll probably do a better job.'" Wise advise coming from a man on the disabled list.

Wright made the catch some 20 feet onto the outfield grass for the second out of the inning, prompting prolonged and loud applause from a sellout crowd. A dive into the stands in Seattle in June had earned him an ovation as well.

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