The Army Stops Marching

I believe the Mets will win the World Series this year.

It takes half the fun out of it. But the other half is that I can't keep on with listening to games that start at 1 am and having to go to work, etc.

March along, the Mets will. This will be, I belive an historic season.

If you read this blog, I suggest you now read instead, or in addition to, this dude.



Not Bad, For Losing

It's not as though the Mets can afford to give away victories like they've clinched the NL East already but with Jeremi Gonzalez starting and Pedro Feliciano plus the recently-recalled Heath Bell relieving, with Willie letting the ever-effete Kaz Matsui hit in the 8th for himself with two out and two runners on base and a chance to rally extinguished, you rather wonder that the Mets weren't very bothered about completing this sweep after all.

Shane Victorino doing his Aaron Rowand impression in the 2nd inning

You might call it a lack of killer instinct. You might call it simply a matter of not being able to comeback from every single deficit you face. You might call it having a narrow rotation with few options beyond Gonzalez and you might call it giving your overworked aces in the bullpen a rest and then you might realise the auld adage, hey, you can't win 'em all.

For whatever reason, this was about as painless a loss as they come.

Perhaps the novelty of the incessant chatter of the Maddog and the thick-tongued throat grumblings of his chubby sidekick, Fat Mike in the announcing booth were a sufficient distraction from the game at hand. Mike and the Maddog, I have to admit, as much as I was ready to hate them, were quite refreshing in the booth. Not only did they do a good job but oh my, what a contrast having the roller-lipped Maddog's intensity with every pitch giving the ballgame a playoff-like atmosphere. And he talks so fast you sometimes wonder if it's still English. But they did a good job, they made the game exciting, Maddog in particular and perhaps that took a little sting out of the loss.

Then again, not even the Mets seemed to bothered by it.

Cliff Floyd was rumoured to have noted that "two out of three's not bad at all." and even Willie spun it well, saying that "Any time you win a series and play well against good ballclubs, you're .always pleased with that."

True. Two out of three against your division rival is good, but a sweep would have kicked these Phillies hard enough to remember. The Yankees and the Braves were the same. Two out of three. Compared to two out of three road losses in Milwaukee and St Louis a week and a half ago, not bad at all.

As for the game itself, not surprisingly, the Mets fell behind quickly with Gonzalez on the mound. Bobby Abreu, who had been 2 for 17 against the Mets this season, hit a two-run shot almost as soon as those numbers were announced by Maddog. Mets killah Pat Burrell hit the next one to the fence but not over it. Then Ryan Howard slammed one over the 371 foot mark in right centerfield to make it 3-0 in less than 15 minutes of play.

But credit Gonzalez if you're willing. He got out of the rest of the inning and pitched 5 scoreless, albeit shaky innnings thereafter, keeping the Mets tied 3-3 for the questionable side of the bullpen. He even survived the 5th when with two men on and none out, he miraculously induced Burrell, Howard and Rollins into consecutive, weak outs to keep the score tied. And I couldn't count how many times Fat Mike howled for Gonzalez to be pulled, beginning from the first inning onwards. Perhaps trying to show us all what a smart baseball man he is?

Not the Wright Night for a Mets victory

And how did the Mets tie the game, you ask? Why with a 3-run homer from none other than Jose Reyes, who finished with 3 hits on the day.

And how did the Mets lose the lead thereafter, you ask? Simple. Pedro Feliciano, Heath Bell versus Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, that's how.

Anyway, the town is still abuzz with El Duque, who will get his Mets debut against the Marlins this weekend. The hard part is over, with June promising to be alot more forgiving schedule-wise than May and help for the rotation on the way.

(Oh yeah, "help" in the figurative, not literal sense...the Mets also now have Dave Williams on their hands to stockpile the AAA rotation and give more depth if nothing else (certain not pitching competence) to the team.


Only two active players have more career homers against the Mets than Pat Burrell, who has 33. That's Barry Bonds with 37 and Chipper Jones
with 35.

Going into last night's game the Mets led the Majors in stolen bases having successfully stolen 46 out of 52 attempts.

Paul LoDuca has gotten on base in 30 fo the 36 games he's appeared in.

Carlos Beltran, who had 16 homers all of last season, has 13 already.

No heroics for Beltran last night.

Oh yeah, and don't look now, but Cliff Floyd is starting to get hot. That will add even more punch to the lineup. June is looking like a good month indeed.


Mets Survive Phillies 5-4, Gain Another Cuban

The collection is growing...

For the first inning of Alay Soler's first Major League start last night the Mets bullpen must have been wincing with every pitch, envisioning the return of the Ghost of Victor Zambrano: Ball, ball, ball, called strike, ball four. Jimmy Rollins walks.

Ball, ball, called strike, ball, called strike, ball four. Chase Utley walks.

Ball, ball, called strike, ball, foul and ball four, pitch in the dirt, Bobby Abreu walks to load the bases with none out.

Things didn't get better for our humble defector when the first three pitches thrown to Met nemesis Pat Burrell were all balls, making it 3-0 with the bases loaded and the game threatening to be over before it started.

But then, whilst we were all digging our fingernails into our skin and burning our mini Cuban flags, Soler suddenly got a grip on himself to throw two strikes in a row over the plate. Our perhaps homeplate umpire Jerry Meals just felt sorry for Alay and decided to be generous. Burrell lashed an RBI single to make it 1-0, but the worst, for Alay, was over.

Dare we mourn, not the picture of fitness?

Unless of course you count Chris Woodward's throwing error on Ryan Howard's double play grounder which sent two more runs in.

But composure is the mark of a winner and the Mets are, if nothing else, composed. Soler sent two of the next three batters down on strikes and mercifully, 37 pitches later, the first inning of Soler's career was under the belt.

And if you discount that first inning, Soler was impressive, giving up only four hits and no runs over the next five innings, leaving the game with a 4-3 lead and a burgeoning respect after 102 pitches, 61 of which ended up being strikes.

Think the surreptitious double fingers is a hidden message to Fidel? (In England, those double fingers mean fuck off, not peace...)

The Mets composure took over the reigns from there, chipping away at the 3-0 lead with homers by Beltran and Wright to tie it and a sac fly by Jose Valentin following Jose Reyes' 6th triple of the season to take the lead in what began to feel like Manifest Destiny, this NL East title, knocking the once-phearsome Phillies five games down the hole.


By giving up Burrell's homer in the 7th to tie the game again, Pedro Feliciano earned the least deserved victory of the season, thanks to Wright's game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the inning that sealed it, both Feliciano's 2nd blown save and his first win of the season.

The bullpen of Heilman and Wagner shut it down for the ending but one gets the feeling the Phillies lost this game when they let their 3-0 lead slip away so quickly.

This was the Mets' 14th one run win of the season, tops in the Majors.


The irony is simply too thick to bear. On the night that Soler gets his first start in the Bigs, the Mets announce a trade for the guy mentioned most often in the same sentence with Soler...within a matter of a few days, the Mets starting rotation is starting to look a little like the NY Cubans, ¿de verdadad?...

This is welcomed news: getting rid of El Choque and gaining a wiley veteran in El Duque. Although his numbers on the season aren't so great so far by any stretch of the imagination, El Duque is a proven big-name winner. In addition, his less-than-impressive numbers were swayed by pitching in Arizona it would appear. On the road this season, he he's 2-1 with a 2.65 ERA, not to mention a 1.13 ERA in his career at Shea.


Beltran Ends Endless Night With Homer In 16th

Five hours, 22 minutes and 522 pitches.

That's how long it took Carlos Beltran to end the 16 inning marathon at Shea this morning, that's how long it took to stuff the Phillies.

And it wasn't easy. Falling behind 2-0, 6-2 and 8-5 before a furious rally in the 8th inning capped by a Jose Reyes homerun tied the game and sent it spinning into eternity, the Mets used up all 7 members of their bullpen whilst Ryan Madson threw 7 innings of relief for the Phillies before giving up Beltran's walk-off homer on pitch 105.

This was the fourth straight one-run game the Mets have been involved in and this latest victory boosts their record in one-run games to 13-6, the most one-run game victories in the Majors. Only the Braves, with 20 1-run games have been involved in more and they are a measely 7-13 in such affairs.

Another tight and happy ending at Shea

The game started off as most games do that either Pedro or Glavine aren't pitching. That is, close your eyes and hope the Mets bang more runs in than the Mets flailing starting rotation lets in.

Another muttering, winless night for Trachsel.

Steve Trachsel did all he could to keep the Mets out of this game, seven hits, four walks and six earned runs over five mediocre innings that saw the Mets behind 6-2 when the dust cleared.

Fortunately for Trachsel, David Wright's second-inning homer was the first run the Mets scored for Steve Trachsel in three starts so he couldn't fault run support as an issue. Not unless he was expecting double figures by the 5th inning.

But it didn't matter because the bats and the bullpen saved the day in the end. The bullpen combined to allow only 5 hits and a pair of runs over 11 innings of relief and the Mets finished with 9 runs and 15 hits on the night.

Somehow I just can't imagine Mike Piazza leaping like that.

Of course, heroics being what they are; fragile flashes in a long season of ups and downs wherein one day is exchanged and forgotten for another, one might begin to ponder already what Willie will do with an exhausted bullpen and two unproven starters pitching next for the Mets.

Will Alay Soler pitch a complete game shutout of the Phillies tonight in his debut against wunderkind Cole Hamels? Because if he doesn't, if he lasts, say a mere four or five innings, the bullpen faces another long night with a day game of Jeremi Gonzalez to follow, surely another bullpen innings eating affair.

So perhaps if the Mets fall behind say, 10-2 in the first few innings Wednesday night Willie might decide to leave Soler in and work his innings like a man.

Otherwise the bullpen, for all it's success and glory early this season, will wilt and fade when the games are do or die in the Fall.

Kaz ent gonna throw away the gloves on Alay Soler.

In no other season in the last 20 have the Mets used a ninth pitcher (Soler will be the 9th starter used) before their 65th game. In 1988, they used six starters until their first 152 games. David West started the 153rd, and no other starter was used.



Seeing as how Metsradamus already has his Quarter Poll Grades 2006 (to which I would only add, not very visionary, giving out grades after the first 40 games have been played - where were you in January,) I've been forced to rewrite my entire column and come up with something different. So with little else to say, I thought I'd let the Mets say it for themselves. Thus, here are my Top Ten Mets Quotes for the Season To Date. I will admit however that rather than undertake the Gargantuan task of culling the internet for Mets quotes all evening I took the shortcut and merely used quotes quoted herein since the Spring.

So without further ado,

10. "I just voiced my opinion and I was thrown out. I thought the ball was low. You say your little piece and the umpire doesn't want to hear it and he throws you out of the game." - Willie Randolph on getting tossed from a game for the second time this season. It was a close race last season between which would be happen first, Willie's first ejection or Jose Reyes' first walk. This season, they've both stepped it up a notch.

9. "Put it this way: I'm a friend not only when you're doing well, I'm a friend when you're not doing so well," - Carlos Beltran said of the fair-weather friendship some Mets fans appeared to have with him early in the season.

8. "I don't listen to nothing (from) the fans. I don't care. They don't pay ... me." - Jorge Julio on booing at Shea.

7. "I'm certainly disappointed," - Aaron Heilman, upon learning he'd been demoted moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen in the Spring.

6. "I need to have my legs in good shape. Without a leg, there is no arm." - Pedro, preaching the gospel of the human anatomy earlier this Spring.

5. "He was crying when he came in," - Sandy Alomar on Victor Zambrano's reaction to the Mets' happiest moment of the year. "The pain had to be extensive." Certainly not on par with the pain he's inflicted upon those who've watched him pitch when he's "healthy".

4. "Hamstrings are very funny. Very mysterious," Willie Randolph observed about Carlos Beltran's hammies, the wisdom of all his cosmogenist's years in baseball finally coming to fruition.

3. "You want to charge, you charge. But don't bring your bat out there. I wasn't scared anyway." - Pedro on mound-charging etiquette following Jose Guillen's thwarted and threatened move at Pedro for being hit twice in one game, thrice over two.

2. "I'd rather be lucky than good." - Billy Wagner, following the Mets Home Opener Victory to start the Mets a perfect 1-0.

1. "It was fans inspired to express their excitement in a song about this year's team, and we thought it was a pretty good effort," said chucklehead Dave Howard, the Mets' executive vice president of business cockups and operations, of the new song, Our Team, Our Time unveiled earlier this season before mercifully disappearing. "It was a pretty cool song."

And in honour of that ridiculous song, due to popular demand, I will once again post my own version of what should be the new Mets theme song...

Telephone Call From Shea

All night long we sing this song
on the broken glass
of the bottle of vintage Mets
we dropped from the airplane flying overhead,
as Jorge Julio mops up again.

Some nights we get Pedro in a glass,
shots of Wright and Reyes on the side
feeling large and wonderful,
the fat man who never pays the bill,
and can't squeeze his ass
into those tiny box seats.

I got a telephone call from Shea
the Mets are gonna to win today
who knows, who knows,
if it's just the third base coach
waving another Castro home
just to get thrown
out again.

Will you sell me one of those tickets
if I shave my head into oblivion
singing and chanting
the newest Mets song
as though we were wonderful all along?

All game, all gone, we sing this song
on the broken glass
of the bottle of vintage Mets
we dropped from the airplane flying overhead
as the Mets lose to the Braves again.

Get me out of hell on the number seven
never trust a team that inflates your dreams
only to puncture them again.

I got to wear out Mr Met
with a baseball bat
and a cigarette
the days are not cloudy anymore.

I got a telephone call from Shea
The Mets are gonna win today.
The world is gonna turn up sevens.

(ripped off inspired by Tom Waits' Telephone Call From Istanbul


It All Boils Down To Wagner

For the third game in a row of this Subway Series victory came down to the last man.

This time, unlike Game Two, a beautifully pitched game wasn't snuffed out with incompetence. This time, Billy Wagner was able to get the last man out before the tying or go-ahead run came home.

Yes, there was the three run bomb by Carlos Delgado to produce the first lead after Derek Jeter had a two-run single go past the gloves of both David Wright and Jose Reyes.

Delgado looks to rub Beltran's head in the Battle of the Carlos'

Then there was the larger bomb to left field, over the bullpens, a prolific shot from David Wright that produced the final run for the Mets, the telling number to give the Mets their 4-3 victory and their two out of three series victory at home over the Yankees.

Of course, none of it would have been possible without a bated-breath ninth inning that saw Billy Boy trotted out for the third time in three days to try and hammer the last three nails in.

He didn't make it look easy of course. Not like Game One when we thought this might be a sign that the division is ours when our closer blows away the 9th inning batters. He gave up a pair of hits and offered a pair of strikeouts in return before finally inducing the game-ending grounder and securing the Mets victory again.

But just as easily, he could have done to Tom Glavine what he did to Pedro, which was wipe out certain victory and send the Mets reeling.

The Army never believed things were all so bleak as painted by some after Saturday's game. After all, this is a resiliant team and Wagner proved for a night anyway, that he is a resiliant closer.

Impressively, the Wagner save gave Tom Glavine (7-2) his 282nd win after giving up two runs and seven hits. He walked four and finished with four strikeouts, pushing his career total to 2,401 and tying Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for 35th place.
Glavine also became the second seven-game winner in NL, joining Arizona's Brandon Webb. He has now gone at least six innings in 25 straight starts. Pretty remarkable consistency.


After the ace in the wings, Mike Pelfrey sizzled in his own grease and lasted a mere two thirds of an inning for Binghamton in his trial the other night, the Mets had little choice but to name Alay Soler and send him to the mound Wednesday or Thursday against the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea Stadium.


Sandman's Hour Glass Runs Out

An utter reversal of fortune.

Friday night it was Billy Wagner striking out the side in the 9th and Mariano Rivera blowing the save.

Yesterday, it was Wagner's turn to put the goat's head on.

A four run lead wasn't enough as he completed a Looperesque meltdown by first walking a run home with the bases loaded and then hitting Bernie Williams to cut a 4-0 lead to 4-3. The man who looked like the man looked decidedly like the mouse yesterday, blowing another certain Pedro victory after a particularly poignant outing.

No, Pedro left the game after 7 innings pitched, no runs and a mere four hits along with 8 strikeouts.

Of course, once Wagner was cashed, back to back ballgames causing his slider not to break and command of his fastball to be non-existent.

And if that wasn't bad enough, with the pen depleted, Jorge Julio came in to give up the inevitable losing run.

Two games, two 4-0 leads blown.

Instead of looking at a possible sweep the Mets will now be trying to avoid losing the Subway Series at home.

They should build a statue in his hometown Caracas demonstrating precisely this posture and calling it Ode To A Loser, Armandogeddon Wanne-Be


Mets Win Battle of Sandmen, 7-6

The inaugural Subway Series game of 2006 began with Jeremi Gonzalez doing his Jose Lima and Victor Zambrano impressions simultaneously, vomitting Yankee runs as though he were intent on fast tracking himself to the waiver wire, and ended with one Sandman striking out the side in the 9th and the other alleged Sandman, the one with the history and rings, surrendering the game winning run in the 9th.

The Yankees first inning lasted 9 batters and 32 pitches on the way to a gut-wrenching 4-0 lead.

Son, you suck. Looks like irrevocable waivers for you...

And then, the Yankees multi-million dollar version of Jeremi Gonzalez, The Big Eunich turned around and nearly handed the lead back to the Mets, as Carlos Beltran blasted a three run homer before Johnson had even recorded an out.

The Fateful Pitch that gave the advantage of Momentum back to the Mets.

Funny to think that one of the few reasons Carlos Beltran isn't a Yankee is because the Yankees had already blown splashed out on their one Big Fish of the off season, namely Randy Johnson and if you want to watch the turning point of a franchise cycle for the next several years, at this rate, you might point directly to that offseason when the Beltran surprised the world by signing with the Mets. And in fact, you might say now that with that homer, Beltran is now an Official Met.

Then another 8 innings followed with the game eventually knotted at 6 in the 9th for Billy Wagner, entering to the Sandman, who rolled in looking like every penny that was spent on him, striking out Giambi, A-Rod and Stinnett swinging, one after another and with gruesome efficiency.

So it was up to Marianao Rivera (note to Willie Randolph - see how your guru Mr Torre is unafraid to bring in his closer on the road in the 9th without a lead?) who surrendered a one out double to Paul Lo Duca, striking out Carlos Beltran before intentionally walking Carlos Delgado to get to David Wright.

Intentionally walking Carlos Delgado to get to David Wright. Oh, how delicious when managers of Mets opponents outsmart themselves with their Baseball Chess philosophies.

And there was David Wright playing hero, knocking the ball off the wall, scoring Lo Duca and setting the Mets on to a dramatic 7-6 victory.


Of course, there are other issues hounding in the background, despite the victory. We and the Red Sox were mutual beneficiaries. Their victory over the Phillies gave us a three game lead over the Phillies in the NL East whilst our victory over their rivals, increased the Blood Sox lead over the Yankees to two and a half games.

The starting rotation needs immediate answers. Jose Lima getting designated for assignment is a good start. Jeremi Gonzalez is not a fifth pitcher, hell, probably not even a 10th pitcher. Get him out of here before he causes worse damage.

Now tell me why Alay Soler doesn't get his shot to perform a Shea version of Livan Hernandez (former Commie leading team to World Series in inaurugal season). Tell me the Mets are going to rush forward with Pelfrey and we're going to have another mini Brian Bannnister story on our hands.

If anything, Aaron Heilman's game-saving three inning stint out of the pen demonstrates the wisdom of not giving in to his call to start. His presence in the pen is invaluable.

Of course, there's nothing but the dregs left in the Norfolk Tides rotation. We've already had our doses of Lima and Gonzalez. Sure, there's the 33 year old righty Yusaku Iriki still waiting in the wings. There's the 27 year old righty Jason Scobi who isn't exactly tearing up AAA hitting with his 1-5 record 8.06 ERA.

And if we're contemplating raiding the AA Binghampton Mets, why not Willie Collazo, the lefty with no control problems who is 3-2 with a 2.15 ERA for the B-Mets and has a 35-6 strikeout to walk ratio in 50 innings pitched?

5 foot 9 of pitching prowess?

Why not give Collazo and Soler their respective chances and let Pelfrey get more experience before we start raiding the cradle in a fit of desperation?

And of course, neither will likely be the solution to a decent number three pitcher to fill out the rotation. That will have to come via trade sometime this season and although the Mets might seem desperate for starters at the moment, they aren't going to get any good deals whilst the rest of the league knows that desperation.


In the interim, a helluva pitching matchup for Saturday afternoon with Mike Mussina facing Pedro in Game Two.


SuBwAy SeRiEs PrEgAme...

It's very difficult to imagine enthusiasm for a Subway Series wherein Jeremi Gonzalez is the starting pitcher for the Mets.

Oh, let's just go ahead and rub it in...Scott Kazmir became the youngest American League pitcher to have six wins by May 16 since Vida Blue did it for Oakland in 1971. His 16 wins since the All-Star break are second only to Jose Contreras, of the White Sox. And since Opening Day 2005, he has made 19 starts in which he's given up one or no earned runs.

But let's face it, he's no Jeremi Gonzalez, is he then?

I'm probably wrong but equally too lazy to check but I don't remember a time that the Mets were going into a Subway Series with a better record than the Yankees. (24-16 v 23-16)...[Belated thanks to Metsradamus who helpfully notes that the answer is three. 2006, 2000, and 1998.]

"Well, the road trip is in the past," Carlos Beltran said of losing three straight series' on the road. Beltran, who has five homers and 13 RBIs in his last 12 games can afford to feel a little non-chalant perhaps. "As a team, you go through a lot of ups and downs. You know, we're hitting a bump and we're looking forward to getting out of it."

I'm looking forward to it to. Let's hope it happens.

Wonder if it's too late to comment on what a massive wank Joe DiMaggio was when it came to his Marilyn Monroe dealings.

"No jealousy. Remember this is not your wife. She is a fine girl and remember how unhappy you made her. Happiness is what you strive for — for HER," the first page of his notes to himself about how to behave says.

Even kissing her looked like a superhuman effort - look at that face contortion...

Does this sound like a guy who could hit 56 games in a row?

1."Don't ever be critical,"
2."Be nice to her friends,"
3."Remember how lonesome and unhappy you are — especially without her,"

That should be worth at least a season of Subway Series mockery...

Speaking of pussies, this has to be one of the all-time whimp outs, the beginning of the end for Mike Piazza, the Idiot Who Said Meeting Rush Limbaugh Was Like Meeting George Washington (no, we have not forgotten and never will...:

Someone has gone ahead and played out a 2006 Subway World Series - no need to bother watching the rest of the season....

Oct. 24, Game Three

Roger Clemens returns from a family vacation in the Bahamas to pitch for the Yankees and collect his $5 million for the start. He shuts out the Mets for seven innings, then hits Paul Lo Duca with a pitch. Watching from the stands, Mike Piazza charges the mound and beats Clemens senseless. The Yankees win 5-1 but Mets fans celebrate. Police try to charge Piazza with assault, but no witnesses come forward."

and then,

Oct. 25, Game Four

Victor Zambrano, pitching left-handed, twirls a six-hit shutout and strikes out 10 for the Mets in a 4-0 win. "He's a natural lefty; I knew it was something we saw in him," Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson says. "What a trade."

Funny guy, that Peter Abraham.


The Delusional Spin

I'm trying to think of a good way to put this...

Lose two of three in Philly. Lose two of three in Milwaukee. Lose two of three in St. Louis.

Hey, at least we're consistent.

For those voyeurs who read this blog for the photos, sad announcement: no photos today, I'm in mourning for my earlier optimism.

Unlike humanity, the baseball world is very black and white. You win or you lose.

In humanity, you might lose but be a nice person. In baseball no one gives a fuck and well they shouldn't. Winning matters and that's the only thing that matters. It doesn't matter that these were road games. It doesn't matter that the Mets got their symbolic one victory of three and avoided getting swept. It doesn't matter that half the rotation went pear shaped and DL'd. It matters that not one time out of these three did they win the series.

Yeah, it's important to remember that this is what they call a marathon not a sprint and perhaps that's what Braves fans are thinking.

But for me, the Mets started fast and had the division by the throat and slowly they are loosening their grip. Bad move.

I know the score and result of today's game. I didn't read the nuances, I'm not going to get hard thinking about how many runs Jose Lima DIDN'T give up. I'm going to know the end result. Loss, again, two of three. And hope the Mets bounce back against the feckin Yankees.

And that would be sweet if we did and that would make all the little pains go away but I'm not banking on it just yet.

We're back to square one: Good team but can they be a good enough team?

Do the Mets have what it takes?

I'll leave you to it...

Bases Loaded, Mets Lose 1-0 Pitcher's Duel

Duel: A struggle for domination between two contending persons, groups, or ideas.

The Mets had their chance in the top of the 9th, losing 1-0. They loaded the bases after Jose Reyes doubled, Cardinals ace Mark Mulder, pitching on fumes, walked Carlos Beltran and then hit Carlos Delgado to load the bases with only one out and present the Mets with their best scoring opportunity all evening.

Carlos Delgado grimaces whilst avoiding Mulder's pitch and thinking about Jose Lima's start tomorrow

Jason Isringhausen was then summoned from the pen to face David Wright in a make or break finale to a tight game. Jason Isringhausen, the righty closer, (talking about bonehead Met trades) once traded by the Mets with Greg McMichael to the Oakland Athletics for Billy Taylor. Billy Taylor, the same Billy Taylor appeared in 19 games for the Mets in 1999 and who hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues since 2001.

Wright, who has otherwise hit well on this road trip and is a career .533 hitter with the bases loaded, struck out. Wright, who is 0-for-6 with the bases loaded this year.

That left hopes dangling on Cliff Floyd. Cliff Floyd, who is hitting .198 this season. No pinch hitter, like sizzling switch hitter Jose Valentin who is hitting .545 over the last week. Just "Cliff Floyd" as though Willie had fallen asleep in the dugout or was watching the Yankees-Rangers game in the clubhouse, dreaming of Chen Ming Wang and holding Joe Torre's hand.

So Floyd, after creating a brief episode of suspense, working the count to 2 and 2, pulled the ball directly to first baseman Albert Pujols, who gloved the grounder easily and jogged over to the bag for the final out. It was the second time the Mets have been shut out this season.

Some more interesting figures to drown in your beer:

1. It was Trachsel's second straight shutout loss. He was the losing pitcher in the rain-shortened, 4 1/2-inning game in Philadelphia last Thursday. Trachsel has lost 1-0 games seven times in his career, four times with Mets. He is 9-9 for his career against the Cardinals, but hasn’t beaten them since Sept. 22, 1999, when he was with the Cubs.

2. The Mets last 1-0 defeat was Sept. 19, 2004, at Pittsburgh, one of three 1-0 losses that season.

3. St Louis ranks 3rd in America on the most courteous driver list

4. Left handed hitters have had their way against Jose Desiderio Rodriguez Lima so far -- .357 batting average, .474 on-base percentage and .643 slugging percentage. Jason Marquis who will be pitching for the Cards, went 1-1 with a sparkling 1.80 ERA in two starts against the Mets last season, allowing three earned runs in 15 innings pitched.

On paper, this looks like a route.


Rain Delay Precipitates Met Outburst

For all the groaning from Queens these days in weary anticipation of the beginning of the end, it was easy to forget that this was actually a matchup between the teams with the National League's two top records.

After a rain delay of 1 hour and 41 minutes in the middle of the seventh, the Mets clinging to a fragile 4-3 lead, were assisted by a throwing error from Albert Pujols who helped turned a sacrifice bunt into a run scored, an extra baserunner and gradually, a four run 8th inning outburst that saw the Mets pull away for an 8-3 victory.

What a night, 0-4 at the plate, throwing errors, hitting ball against his shin, slipping on wet pitch. The Cards were lucky to get out of this game with their star in one piece.

Pujols, who in a quite timely fashion committed his second error of the season but only his second in two games, tried unsuccessfully to outrace Xavier Nady to first on a sacrifice. Having lost the race, he compounded the problem by making an errant toss to second baseman Hector Luna who had been waiting at the bag, and David Wright scored from second on the play to give the Mets a 5-3 lead.

Maybe not good for the game, but certainly not bad for the Mets, Pujols takes one on the shin

In fact, the Mets took advantage of every thing they could take advantage of. Like scoring on three of the four batters Cardinals starter and Met nemesis Jeff Suppan walked yesterday. Going into yesterday's game, Suppan was 3-0 with a 1.55 ERA in five career starts against the Mets.

Tom Glavine pitched another minor gem, saving the face of the rotation with a six inning three-run performance that kept the Mets in the game for the bullpen but allowed an early 3-0 to evaporate as well. Glavine finished the game with 2,397 strikeouts, one ahead of Koufax, and four behind Dennis Eckersley. He also scored after being foolishly walked after Jose Reyes hit a two-run homer in the third.

Hardly a Ruthian swing, but it cleared the fence anyway

Reyes in fact, had quite an interesting evening to with his three RBIs. In addition to his homer he also managed to get himself picked off of first base in the first inning after reaching on an error by Luna.

Luna bobbling the first play of the game

Yes indeed, the sort of moment when you think to yourself, you bloody idiot!, squandering what we all thought would be a rare chance for the Mets to score. He partially atoned for that mistake when he stole second in the 7th after walking and ran home after Paul Lo Duca's RBI double that gave the Mets the lead again. Just as Luna atoned for his error when he made an outstanding play at second in the fifth, ranging far to his right and bouncing a one-hop throw to first to nip Reyes at the bag, something that rarily happens.

In any event, the win, after giving up seven hits and three runs, was Glavine's fourth in a row and helped the Mets at least attempt to gain solid footing in the unlikeliest of places, the brand new Busch Stadium where the Cardinals entered last night 16-6, the best home record in the majors.

Another play at the plate that the Duke comes in at the short end on.

Heilman and Sanchez resumed their roles as Mr Steady and Mr Reliable in scoreless 7th and 8th innings, paving the way for an appearance by Jorge Julio who promptly allowed the first man in the 9th to single and walked the second man he faced. I'm beginning to think Willie is saving Billy Wagner for September.

Ominous beginnings in every game Julio enters, even games wherein we've a steady 5 run lead, Julio seems capable of meltdown. However, he was able to set the next three batters down in order to close out the game and lower his ERA to 5.40.

This was a must win game in a way, simply to avoid an inevitable sweep what with Steve Trachsel taking the mound tomorrow against lefty Mark Mulder (4-1, 4.27) who is 3-0 at home this season and then Jose Lima getting another chance to throw the Mets under the bus again on Thursday.

Chances are not good that the next great hitter will go 0 for 4 again tomorrow night but then again, we weren't expecting it very much tonight either.

Uncharacteristic night for Albert


Let The Downslide Begin

Those swearing on the hue of their rose coloured glasses will not want to hear this, so turn your computers off.

The Mets are in trouble.

Ok, too early to press the red alarm button perhaps but nonetheless, the cracks are beginning to show in the armour of a team that raced ahead early to an impressive record and had us all swooning by mid-April.

One of the consistent factors of the early Met success beyond the hitting was that the starters were strong and were more times than not, pitching six solid innings and turning over a lead to the bullpen which allowed Clueless Willie to stick with his Heilman to Sanchez to Wagner troika.

Oddly enough, the two oldest and considered most fragile of the starters (Pedro and Glavine) have been the most reliable whilst a series of no names, has beens and minor league upstarts have either gotten injured or performed about as poorly as could have been expected of them.

Granted, no one could have foreseen the injuries to Brian Bannister and John Maine and granted, even if they hadn't been injured there's no telling they would have continued being productive. No one was shocked about Steve Trachsel pitching with his career long consistent mediocrity. And of course, throwing clowns like Jose Lima and oft-injured mercenaries like Jeremi Gonzalez against any starting lineup is an invitation to trouble. You could easily have second-guessed Omar's decision to get rid of Mr Anna Benson for the rubbish he received in return, and many did whinge long and hard about depleting the already questionable starting rotation.

But now the Mets, who begin to face the deadly St Louis Cardinals followed by the Yankees, two of the hardest hitting teams in baseball, are about to head for a tailspinning disaster with little to no help in sight. Not unless you believe the hype hope that Bannister's possible return is cause for dancing in the streets.

The rotation being a shambles was bad enough. Losing their first back-to-back road series, also annoying but even more alarming is that the bullpen, once the pride of the early Spring team, have thrown the second-most innings of any relief corps in baseball outside of a sad little franchise in Kansas City and have seen the bullpen ERA rise quicker than the water in a New Orleans river basin, from what was once a pride-inducing third best in the majors to a suddenly average 11th best bullpen ERA.

Sure, at the moment, Pedro and Glavine are still producing. The offence, which has been brilliant at times, struggled to keep pace with the Brewers but most importantly, with the likes of Lima and Gonzalez starting, you can't expect much else but a rapidly fatiguing bullpen and lots of late inning implosions.

Part of the problem is Willie's natural mistrust of Jorge Julio who, if effective, could provide a pressure release on an overtaxed bullpen rotation of Heilman and Sanchez and pray for a lead in the 9th for Wagner. Instead, Willie, on at least two occasions, was forced to put less than the best on the mound when the game was on the line resulting in at least two of the road losses they suffered on this trip.

This isn't an obituary on the Mets chances this season. It's far too early, just as the enthusiasm allowed far too many of us to clinch the NL East in April, for funeral dirges and bitterness. But buckle your seatbelts anyway because the next six games are going to cause alot of fingernails chewed to the bone, alot of hair to be pulled out, alot of bottles of beer to be emptied.

Let's just hope for the sake of the season that the character of the team, which I think it will, proves to be up for the challenge.


The Incredibly Shrinking NL East Lead

There may be hope for Willie yet...

What were the odds of this?

Xavier Nady, 0-17 on the season with two outs and runners in scoring position, came to bat in the top of the 9th against Mr Automatic Bobblehead with two outs and Delgado perched on third, the Mets down by a run. This was after the Mets had left 8 runners in scoring position through the first 8 innings.

Not only 0-17 in these situations, but 4-33 batting with runners in scoring position in general and yet somehow, he was able to beat a throw to first which was bobbled by Prince Fielder for an infield hit and the game was tied, Turnbow had his first blown save of the season.

That eventually led the way to extra innings, the 6th of the season for the Mets. And it was all for naught.

Jose Valentin, a pimple of a batsman only a few days ago, is suddenly the greatest player on earth. After going 5 for his first 30 at-bats, a .166 average, he had 4 RBIs on Saturday night including a great catch and then had 4 hits on Sunday afternoon and a clever throw out of Rickie Weeks in the 10th that could have been tide-turning were it not for a homer one batter later.

But he wasn't the only one to do something out of the ordinary. The Kaz Man, who had been 0-11 on the season against lefties, singled in the 5th off, you guessed it, the lefty starter Doug Davis.

After hitting a homer to make the score 4-2, Ricky Weeks made an error, his 12th of the season, which put Mets on first and second and then allowed David Wright to tie the game at 4 with a double, which probably should have been a single but for the bobble by Geoff Jenkins.

Then of course, David Wright, King of The 9th Inning Errors bobbled another in the bottom of the 9th, his seventh of the year. Even the night before he barely escaped what clearly was an error when it was mistakenly ruled a hit. Fortunately, this sloppiness didn't cause further demise.

Oh no, the demise was to come an inning later when the Brewers paid the Mets back for Lo Duca's homer in the 9th the night before -- Bill Hall blasted a Chad Bradford offering for a 6-5 walk-off win to take the series, two games out of three. On the heels of the Phillies sweeping the Reds, the Met lead has been shrunk to one with the doom and gloom of facing the Cardinals and Albert Pujols looming.

The Phillies will go to Milwaukee next.

Rhetorical Question of the Evening

When is Willie going to pull his head out of his arse and abandon this childish worship of the stupid rule of not putting your closer in the game on the road unless you've got the lead?

Today's was the SECOND game, the first being the opening game in Philly a few days ago, when the Mets had less than their best on the mound at the end of the game and paid for it.

The game is on the line, dickhead. It doesn't matter if you don't have the lead, if you don't hold the opposition, you won't get another turn at bat anyway. Or maybe it's Joe Torre's arse that Willie's head is burrowed up.


For Mother's Day in America, baseball was festooned in pink for some reason - apparently the pink was to represent breast cancer - pink bats, pink wristbands, etc. It was a Pink Day - but there was no Pinky Tuscadero:

No Pinky, No Cry.

"On November 29, 1999, she was arrested for firing a 12-gauge shotgun into the living room window of a neighbor's house after a car alarm woke her up; she also shot the neighbor's car and another car nearby. The neighbor was not home at the time. She pleaded no contest to the charge of firing into the house and was sentenced to three years' felony probation on October 20. Kelly was also ordered to receive psychiatric counseling and pay restitution as ordered by the probation department."

---In any event, if the fight against breast cancer was to be promoted, why didn't everyone dress in black? How does pink represent breast cancer better than black?


Uninspirational - the Mets were frankly, fortunate to even see this game into extra innings. Granted, after throwing Jose Lima and Jeremi Gonzalez on the mound, two losses out of three weren't surprising, but excuses are not going to keep the lead from the Phillies. We see the Mets going to St Louis and the Phillies going to Milwaukee and thereafter, the Mets will play the Yankees and the Phillies will face the Red Sox.

By the mid week, the NL East might well have a new leader.

And yeah, with the game on the line, let's make sure our best reliever, or the reliever who is allegedly our best, stays in the bullpen unless we have a lead. Real feckin helpful.

Turnbow Bobbles Head, Mets Win Battle of Momentum Swings, 9-8

Oh how the stage was set for Met doom and Brewer delight.

The Brewers had just forged to tie the game dramatically with a four run 8th inning against the cream of the Met bullpen and now, top of the 9th, victory clinging to the palate like the foam of a bad Milwaukee beer to a mouthful of unmasticated grilled sausage, Derrick Turnbow, hero of Milwaukee, was summoned from the bullpen to the delight of the second largest crowd in Miller Park history on this, irony of ironies, Derrick Turnbow bobblehead night.

Going into this important moment, Turnbow had converted all 12 of his save chances this year and came into the game with a 1.35 ERA.

And make no mistake, this was a reeling Met side, having lost two of three in Philly and losing a lead in Game One here in Milwaukee, their NL East lead threadbare, this second game starting a patchwork rotation was a game which they would have to win if they wanted to at least put a dent in negative momentum.

After the unlikely heroics of Jose Valentin, virtually everyone's lock as most useless Met all season, the Mets had gone into that prolific 8th with an 8-4 lead and Duaner Sanchez, Mr Lock Em Up and Kick Em Out, coming in for what should have been a quick muzzling. Instead he suffered an uncharacteristic breakdown, this on the heels of surrendering his first run of the season the other night in Philly, and this time, a three-run homer to Corey Koskie who had battled back from an 0-2 deficit in the count and narrowed the margin to a lone run followed narrowly later by a Damien Miller homer to tie the game.

Oh, shades of just the night before when the Mets had held a tangible lead only to see themselves hauled out nekkid in the night of obscurity, squandering another potential victory like a junkie in search of another hit.

And then, after he'd hit Brady Clark with a pitch that was literally behind him, Sanchez was fortuitously if not unnecessarily ejected by Opening Day Hero, Tim Tschida, leaving Willie, normally clueless in matters of the bullpen anyway, forced to get ejected himself as Chad Bradford was summoned.

Bradford induced Jeff Cirillo to hit into an improbable yet seemingly simple double play ball to Chris Woodward only to see Woodward bobble the ball and man oh man, every one of us, every Met fan just knew that this was the beginning of the end, the season crumbling around us like the armies of the French king at Pavia in 1525.

But then, as though the baseball gods decided unanimously that the Mets fans had finally suffered enough to make up for all our early season enthusiasm, inexplicably, Bradford came back to strike out Rickie Weeks, who had gotten the Brewers on the board in the third with his second homer of the season, and induced Bill Hall to ground harmlessly to first.

Baseball gods relent, Mets take a difficult game by the skin of their teeth.

And then of course, came Mr Bobblehead himself, good fortune seemingly etched in stone, who tossed the pitch to leadoff hitter Paul Lo Duca that was smashed into a 9-8 Met lead once and for all before Billy Wags finally came in to save a game for the first time in what seems to have been weeks.

Someone check Valentin's astrological charts because he played as though he were a different human being altogether last night, two run singles, homers, amazing catches - just who was this imposter???

And let us not forget the three run homer by Carlos Beltran which gave the Mets their early 3-0 lead and a small cushion of comfort for starter Jeremi Gonzalez. Gonzalez was merely efficient enough in his five inning debut to prevent disaster however, in times other than desperate ones, his performance would likely merit a raspberry than a sigh of relief and certainly there must be an arm or two down in the Mets system who can be summoned in his stead.

Indeed, stop gap measures like starting Gonzalez and the comical Jose Lima are just that - we shouldn't see either of them for another start or two and hopefully, this little hiccup in the starting rotation will right itself in due course before further disaster befalls us.

The Army is on record as wanting no trade for a starter until the resources of their minor league system has been exhausted.



Good Night, Sour Dreams

Another loss.

Oh, now I remember how it feels, christ, it was only a year ago...

Well, shocking is it?

What team can put back to back pitchers who sniff the big leagues like dogs sniff other dogs' urine on lamp posts and still hope to win?

No team.

Yeah, it was funny at first. Let's have a day of Jose Lima, hahaha, let's not take this seriously. We're already a million light years ahead of the Braves, why sweat it? The Mets won't last long as front runners if they keep giving second raters access to the mound. Yeah, I know, alot of DLers. Another few weeks and we'll all be sorted once again.

But still, a loss to the Brewers? What are we, the Braves?


Rain Beats Mets, 2-0

For all intents and purposes, the Mets lost this game in the first inning.

Phillies starter Gavin Floyd had walked the bases full with two outs. David Wright, one batter previous, had narrowly missed a three-run homer that curved foul instead. Xavier Nady, who had been 0-14 when batting with 2 outs and runners in scoring position, then slammed Floyd's bases loaded offering deep to the fence in centerfield for what seemed certain to be at least a three-run triple.

Instead, Aaron Rowand slammed full force into the wall at the 398 foot mark and somehow made the grab of the season, held on to the ball and killed the Mets rally all in one bloodied nose blow that sent the Mets reeling into the bottom of the first still tied at 0-0 rather than ahead at least 3-0.

And then, as if to punctuate the fact the Mets weren't going to win this game no matter what, in the bottom of the first, the Mets Killah, Chase Utley punched a ball over Xavier Nady's head to right center field to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead they wouldn't relinquish.

The self-satisfied smirk of a man who loves to kill the Mets as he completes his homerun trot.

Say what you like about this game but you might as well have turned off the radio at that point right there, the fate was sealed. Instead of leading 3-0 or 4-0, the Mets were behind 1-0 and yes, let us not forget, the all-important first run scored went to the enemy not ourselves, dooming the remaining, soggy innings.

It doesn't matter that Chase Utley would have had a second homerun in his next at bat were it not for the wind suddenly kicking it back into the stadium for an out. It doesn't matter that Victorino, who replaced the bloody-faced Rowand after The Catch, went 2 for 2 in his stead, kicking out a double in the 4th inning and was driven in a batter later by none other than the Ultimate Disappointment, David Bell to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead.

It doesn't matter that Chase Utley came to the plate once more, this time with the bases loaded and you could almost feel the bloody migraine coming on one more time only to see him bounce back to Steve Trachsel harmlessly ending the inning.

It doesn't matter that the about five seconds after Carlos Beltran was called out on strikes in the top of the 5th making the game "official", that the heavens opened up, pissing down rain for the rest of the night and ending any hope the Mets might have had to catch up.

The Mets wouldn't have caught up because the game was decided by The Catch, symbolic of the sneer of the baseball gods who were going to see to it one way or another that the Phillies took this home series (much as Archie Bunker's Army predicted, incidentally.)

The only surprise was the fact that Billy Wagner after blowing all that hot air, never got into a game to face the angry and ugly Philly crowd. Now he'll have to wait to face the music because Willie decided to protect him in Game One and leave Aaron Heilman to the wolves instead like a sacrificial little lamb.

It was perhaps that specific sort of cowardice which the baseball gods sought to punish Willie and the Mets for. The reason this game ended as it did. Hopefully it isn't a momentum shift as much as a one-off payback for not bringing Wagner into the game the first time.

With a win last night the Mets could have matched the 23-11 start of the 1988 team that won 100 games for the third time in franchise history, but lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games in the NL championship series. But they didn't.

And now they leave Philly for Milwaukee not quite empty handed, but certainly feeling dissatisfied, perhaps cheated by fate and who knows, wondering whether or not these Phillies are going to prove, like the Mets have been trying to prove, to be the "new" Braves of the NL East.


Something to think about for the next Phillies series: Cole Hamels.

"You don't see those guys come around very often," said Braves manager Bobby Cox of the promotion of Hamels from AAA. "I only had one look at him [in spring training], but that was enough. The kid's special. This will be a huge plus for the Phillies."

And meanwhile, the Mets will throw rubbish like Jose Lima and Jeremi Gonzalez at the Brewers this weekend.

NL East Irony

Interesting that as the Mets were ending the Phillies nine game winning streak, the Marlins were ending their own streak against the Braves - their 11-3 victory ended their 11 game home losing streak. The Braves, ahhhh, how low they've sunken!


Bad Brew Town!

Sure this isn't Tranny Bobblehead Giveaway Night?

This Saturday's 6:05 p.m. start against the Mets features the first all-fan bobble head giveaway of the 2006 season, and it comes with a unique twist. Derrick Turnbow is the featured player, and the doll comes complete with long, lifelike hair spilling out from under his cap. The dolls, which are compliments of Badger Mutual Insurance, showcase Turnbow in the white home uniform and 5,000 random dolls will feature Turnbow in the alternate retro pinstripe home uniform. Plus, 100 lucky fans will find cards in their box that can be redeemed for a doll autographed by Turnbow. The game is a virtual sellout (single seats and standing room remain in very limited quantities).

Might have to fly to Milwaukee for this kind of bargain...When will the Mets hold the Jose Lima Crazy Orange Hair Bobblehead Night with the exploding Bobblehead?


No More Mr Niceguy Met, 13-4

There is a certain inevitability, when a team is running the table like the Phillies have been for the last week and a half, that what goes up, eventually comes down and last night, on the heels of their shocking bottom of the 9th victory against the Mets, the Phillies were brought crashing back to earth by a 13-4 margin, ending their mystical 9 game winning streak with authority.

Three, four, chachacha. Paul Lo Duca and Carlos Beltran combined for four hits and five RBIs. (Rusty Kennedy/AP)

Glavine again showed that he has now fully regained his Hall of Fame form, allowing only 4 hits in 7 innings work, two of which were homeruns. He was pretty himself at the plate with two hits in two official at bats to raise his season average to .500.

Glavine going into the HOF as a pitcher or a hitter? Such ponderings as he jogs around the bases...

Not that he was alone at the plate. The Mets accumulated 17 hits in all, equalling their season high as seven Mets had two hits. Four of them, Glavine included, had at least two RBIs. Paul Lo Duca had three. Jose Reyes had a homer. Together, with the sting of Tuesday night's loss still in their eyes, they buried losing pitcher Cory Lidle (3-4) and his immediate successor, Aaron Fultz, and avoided their first own three-game losing streak in the process.

Phillies, Shmillies.

In the interim, Glavine earned his 280th career victory, 4,000th career inning, 195th sacrifice bunt and 23rd consecutive start of at least six innings. He became the 38th pitcher to reach 4,000 career innings on the mound.

The Mets have homered in 14 straight games.

Willie congratulates Glavine for keeping him from having to make any hard, stupid decisions about the bullpen.

I wonder if Philly phans remember this.

Tonight, the rubber match.

Steve Trachsel, the incredibly shrinking talent (and 5.79 ERA with a 1-2 record at Citizen Park) will be on to face Gavin Floyd, he of the oddly juxtoposed 3-2 record in spite of his rather porcine 6.16 ERA. And hey, that's an 8.50 ERA at home, kids. However, before we laugh too hard, he's 2-0 in his last two starts. Possibly a high scoring affair. And who knows, maybe Willie will finally let Billy Wagner out of the bullpen to do what he's paid for instead of micromanaging himself into another loss.


Where Was Our Multi Million Dollar Closer?

I know all the headlines will blare that Aaron Heilman blew the game last night by throwing wildly along the first base line on a tapper in front of the plate that both he and Lo Duca were going after with the bases loaded but what I won't know until tomorrow is what the hell was he doing in there in the first place?! Isn't that the situation Billy Wagner was bought and paid for?

You really have to wonder (or I do anyway,) about Willie's choices out of the bullpen. Where was the logic in sending out the set up guy in the 8th playing with a one-run deficit but sending in the pre-set up guy with the game tied in the 9th? If Heilman had pitched the 8th, he might have even been able to pitch the 9th, or if not, you'd have had both Sanchez and Wagner available for the 9th and if need be, the 10th. Instead, Willie burned a third of his options with stupidity leaving only two options, one of which he was apparently unprepared to use for unknown reasons - (I can't buy the auld Wagner is only used to protect leads in the 9th rubbish - this is a big game and a big situation...)

The left-handed Wagner was not even warming up in the ninth, leaving lefties Utley and Abreu to hit against the right-handed Heilman. Mets manager Willie Randolph said he didn't want to use his closer in a tie game on the road. Way to think outside of the box, you Joe Torre Statue wannabe. Ugh.

Heilman disappointed but not as disappointed as Phillie fans who didn't get to throw all their AAA batteries at Billy Wagner last night.

Maybe Willie was trying to make it up to Heilman for squelching any hints of his return to his beloved role in the starting rotation by sticking him in the game in such a tight situation. Maybe Willie was trying to protect Billy Wagner - you'd hate to think so because Wagner doesn't strike one as the type who needs protecting not to mention the fact the closer has to has nerves and balls of steel and returning to his previous owners in the 9th inning should have been as easy as an extra point in the logic department - get it out of the way early...

Or maybe Willie, as he proved so many times last season, has an uncanny ability to cock up bullpen calls in tight games. Maybe this is Willie's Achilles Heel. Or perhaps Willie just wasn't planning ahead, perhaps he wasn't believing that Carlos Delgado would cause Tom Gordon's first blown save of the season and wasn't believing he'd even NEED a reliever to pitch the bottom of the 9th.

Other than the game being marred by this sort of bizarre planning and poor thinking, it was also a game that was otherwise marred by several unusual relief events, Duaner Sanchez, for instance, allowing his first run of the season in the 8th inning after a Ryan Howard double scored Shane Victorino (what an oddly apropos name for a late-inning pinch-runner) to give the Phillies a 4-2 lead just a half inning after the Mets had come from out of nowhere to make it a 3-2 game in the top of the 8th.

In addition, just after that, when you thought the sails would have been out of the Mets ship, (by god, you scratch back from a 3-0 deficit only to see it pushed back up to a two run deficit for the top of the 9th) the Mets or rather Carlos Delgado counterpunched again off of Tom Gordon with the Mets second two-run homer in two innings to tie the score and allow Gordon's first blown save of the season, not to mention the fact that Delgado was 2-for-30 against Gordon, a seemingly open and shut case.

I mean, Holy Roman Empire, Batman, this was shaping up to be yet another joyous Met occasion of improbable comebacks and victory and all this like gravy, after Pedro's injudicious three-run 2nd inning and Randy Myers' 7 innings of dominating 3-hit pitching made you almost come to believe the Mets were the proverbial cooked geese before Xavier Nady hit that two-run shot in the 8th with Cliff Floyd aboard.

But all this was for naught, all the hopes risen and then extinguished like an Earl Weaver dugout cigarette - when Willie sent the untested Aaron Heilman out into the 9th with the game tied.

If this is the kind of managerial fortitude we get from Willie in tight situations, one has to wonder how far the Mets will go in any imagined postseason - even if the Mets have a great pen, with a half wit running it, you may as well bring back Braden Looper.

No chance for Lo Duca to play the hidden ball trick against Shane Victorino in the 8th.

In any event, marred as this game was by Willie - there are, I believe another 21 games against the Phillies to go and these games will prove to test the mettle of whichever team is willing to make the move from push to shove and seize victory, as the Phillies did last night, at home, against the Mets' third best reliever rather than their shut em down closer.


Braves Avoid Sweep Again, But Not Fate

You can't really say yesterday's result was unexpected. After all, two straight games the bullpen had been depleted, the Braves were starting Smoltz and Jose Lima, who hadn't even pitched well at Triple AAA ball, was on the mound for the Mets with three of their other starting pitchers on the DL.

Talk about a skeletal staff.

Jose The Krazy Klown Makes Sure It's a Baseball And Not A Watermelon He's Throwing

But even with these kinds of odds stacked against them, arguably, it took the additional force of a few bonehead ump calls to get the Braves rolling.

Plate umpire Angel Hernandez, according to the colourful Lima, allegedly told Lima before the inning began that he wasn't going to get the same liberal strikezone that Smoltz would get. Rather dubious that he would bother saying so, but that's the world according to Lima. Lima was then called for a balk early in the second inning which he claimed "changed everything,it changed my day and the Mets' day ... in a bad way." Hmmm. Not as badly as it changed the colour of his clown-orange hair.

I think the missing ball trick only works once a season, Mr Lo Duca...

This was followed by the tag at the plate that wasn't. Of course, if you remember Opening Day, it's rather surprising that Lo Duca thought he might get away with fooling an ump on a play at the plate again. Not after he made such a chump of the last one. Not surprisingly, whilst Lo Duca lunged back with the ball on a chopper and pretended to tag out Atlanta’s Brian McCann, McCann was called safe and Lo Duca went ballistic. Foolishly so: throwing the ball to the grass whilst arguing and allowing baserunners to advance. Well, all but Smoltz, who was ordered back to first which prompted Bobby Cox to waddle out, argue and get tossed, just so his Braves wouldn't feel left out.

So it was a bit of a crazy match yesterday - not suprising given the crazy guy on the mound for the Mets.

And how did McCann get to racing for home anyway? Another complicated, conspiracy-laden series of events: Second-base umpire Sam Holbrook called Lima for a balk, with Brian Jordan batting, the third balk against Lima in 1,550 1/3 big-league innings. Jordan hit the balk pitch to shortstop, and the Mets thought they turned a double play. Instead, McCann was on second and, after Jordan struck out, advanced to third on Ryan Langerhans soft single to right.

Of course when you lose a game to your arch rivals by double digits, any argument would seem rather weak. Personally, having Jose Lima on the mound followed by Bartolome Fortunato is reason enough. They combined to allow all of the Braves' 13 runs and both of them look like they rather belong down in Triple AAA ball instead of the Major Leagues but with the bullpen exhausted and the starting rotation decimated, there wasn't much choice. Just one of those things.

What was a nice surprise was that Carlos Beltran, no longer afraid of his own hammies, homered in all three games for the Mets. You'd be hard pressed to find three less meaningful homeruns against your arch rivals, but Beltran hit them and he hit Braves pitching this weekend 5 times in 12 at-bats whilst driving in 4.

And now the Mets will get a well-deserved day of rest to lick their wounds before turning to more important NL East business at hand, the suddenly unstoppable Phillies, who have now won 8 straight games and are only 4 games behind the Mets.

As if blowing saves wasn't enough damage to the Mets, Billy Wagner suddenly decided to become brash, bashing the Phillies two days prior to their meeting just to wratched up the pressure.

"Bring on Billy boy," is what Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said in response to Wagner's rather odd claims that the Phillies quit on him last season, that he felt like it was 24 against 1, etc. Somewhat ridiculous claims if you consider why Wagner would have even bothered contemplating a Phillies off season offer to stay with the team given the lack of support.

And of course, the Phillies now have Tom Gordon in place of Wagner which we all scoffed at from the beginning but who has been 10-for-10 in save situations for the Phillies.

And you've got to wonder why Wagner would want to heap extra pressure on himself his first time back to Philly, an unforgiving hole with notoriously evil fans.


Some hot bats to look out for: We are all well versed in Chase Utley and now consider that he is hitting .483 with 3 homers and 8 RBIs over the last seven days going into this matchup.

Consider that Aaron Rowand and Ryan Howard have both hit 3 homers and knocked in 9 runs in that same time period.

Or, you can consider that Bobby Abreu is hitting .167 over those last seven days and Pat Burrell .211. Met killahs everywhere.


Pedro opens Game One against righty Brett Myers, who has a 6-5 record and a 5.57 ERA in his career against the Mets. Advantage, Pedro but I can't say I have 100% faith in Billy Wagner securing a save in what is likely to be a tight game. I wish that were the case and perhaps if he hadn't already blown a few we'd feel a bit more comfortable but historically, Billy Wagner is not a pressure pitcher. Let's put it this way, not only did he blow two games for the Phillies in the midst of the pennant race last season against his former teammates in Houston, but his career ERA in the post season is 7.71. It's a pity Willie can't just insert the indominable Duaner Sanchez in his stead.

Game Two sees Tom Glavine, with his 1.94 ERA facing righty Corey Lidle who is 4-1 with a 2.15 career ERA against the Mets. Advantage might still be Glavine, simply because he's the new K King but Lidle will be tough.

And the last game will see the rotation bottom out with Trax facing Gavin Floyd (3-2 6.16)

This will be a tough series but I think it's safe to say that the Phillies aren't going to extend their winning streak to 11 games. However, I wouldn't bet against the Phillies taking two of three at home this time round and making things very interesting early on.