3.9.05

Mets Bats Remain Dummy'd Up For Their Third Loss In A Row

Listen, you can piss and moan all you want about Victor Zambrano's tetchy return for this first start in 10 days but you can't avoid peering down into the abyss that is the Mets recent run production, a pittance; 17 runs in 8 games, the source of their recent swoon. Their record in those 8 games is 3-5.

Last night yes, Victor Zambrano looked like a lumberjack attempting to perform delicate brain surgery with a hacksaw: 12 hits allowed, a walk and a hit batsmen, all within about 110 pitches too many as the Marlins barely took advantage of the opportunities presented to them to ease away with a 4-2 victory and D-Train's 19th of the season.


D-Train
v.
Zzzz-Train


The loss was the Mets third in a row, quite a comedown from the heady victory on Ramon Castro's three run shot a mere four nights ago when the world was our oyster and the Phillies looked demoralised. Now it is the Mets who are scraping their bellies at the bottom of the cesspool, falling 3 1/2 games behind the Phillies for the NL Wildcard and perilously close yet again to a season-ending lull they won't shake themselves from and we can all pat ourselves on the back and say at least we tried. Rubbish.

Last night was yet another frustrating enterprise in a string of frustrating evenings wherein the story line barely deviates: the Mets are shut down by another pitcher, the hits come like reluctant sperm from an impotent used car salesman, the runs come like blood from stones and Met pitchers are left to dazzle themselves for naught, realising even the slightest mistake could doom them.

Not that Zambrano seemed to notice. After a ten day lay off and being paraded around as the wunderkind of Dolphin Stadium at the expense of Steve Trachsel, Zambrano pitched like he nearly always does, zooming in and out of focus like a highway drunk.

He was saved from the game getting out of hand early on Cliff Floyd's dazzling throw to nail Gonzalez at the plate in the 2nd inning, his 11th assist of the season. In fact, much like Beltran's throw to the plate in the Phillies opener, Floyd's rifle momentarily awoke the Mets from their hitting revelrie long enough for Castro to double and Reyes to single him home to tie the score at 1-1.

But Zambrano proved too much for the Mets meagre offence to overcome. In the third inning, as if the first and second innings were mere auditions for the miserable performance he would shine in, Zambrano loaded the bases with none out and magically allowed only a single run to push through despite hitting a batter and running his pitch count to a mind-wobbling 73 over the first three innings.

In a way, you might have thought it fate. After all, the Marlins could easily have been ahead 8-1 or 10-1 by that time and yet it was still only 2-1.

But try as the might, the Mets couldn't generate offence and yes, maybe it had a little something to do with Dontrelle Willis being on the mound but frankly, Dontrelle Willis was not on the mound the last two games previous and the Mets were similarly weak and ineffective when it came to scoring.

So instead of a fateful Met victory after the Marlins shot their wad early and blew all their good chances, it just became a waiting game, the How-Long-Before-Zambrano-Finally-Blows-It-Open-With-Five-Straight-Hit Batsmen sort of waiting game whose conclusion we almost gratefully embraced in the 6th after Dontrelle Willis doubled over Floyd's head.

Miquel Cairo simplified matters with an idiotic and wasteful decision to throw home with the easy out at first allowing not only the fourth run to score but keeping the Mets on the ropes with the bases loaded.

But miraculously almost, Heilman pitched out of the jam with back-to-back strikeouts with the bases loaded against a team that had been hitting .551 with the bases loaded and less than two outs on the season.

By then of course, we all felt it in our bones, the inevitability of this loss, the lack of offensive hope and vigor, the listless conclusion to another loss.

Sure, Wright's RBI single made it 4-2 but the game was never really close. If you can't get out of a chair to walk it seems rather senseless to dream about running a marathon and the Mets, senselessly, are running out of options.

This afternoon they will have to face another Marlin ace, another excuse for anemic run production - another free fall on another day that could see the Mets staring off into the distance as their NL Wildcard rivals pull away.

There is apparently no magical spell for the Mets to stun their batting order into heat. For now they will have to rely upon guile, Marlin failure to score runners on base and a LOT of luck. There is no magical elexir to make Met bats potent.

Unless of course, Carlos Beltran starts earning his money and begins a hitting tear to carry the team.

Failing that, well, the obits will be pouring in on the season.

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