Mets Reign Over Turner Field

Despite David Wright's clumsy efforts to help bobble another game for Billy Wagner, the Mets took their second straight victory at Turner Field, this time 1-0 and this time, to widen their lead over the Braves to an incredible seven games and to clinch their first series victory in Atlanta since August 26-28, 2003.

It often gets lost in the shuffle of pitching performances and homeruns, but Cliff Floyd saved at least two runs and probably the game with his fantastic, diving catch in the gap in left center in the 4th inning with two outs and two runners on, and then made a sliding catch an inning later to save Glavine's skin.

The Mets team character is officially stated. On the heels of overtaking the Giants despite Bonds' dramatic 9th inning homer in SF, the Mets have now won two straight games at Turner Field, two games, if we're being honest, the Mets would almost certainly have lost last season.

Instead, Paul Lo Duca's homer in the 6th inning, his first of the season and the only run of the game, leave the Braves in tatters and leave the baseball world with the impression that the Mets, barring a massive meltdown, are well on the road to winning the NL East, even though it's still April. And don't tell me we're getting ahead of ourselves. Does anyone truly envision the Phillies, Nats or Marlins making a concerted run at the Mets? And if the Braves are left shuddering in the shadow of their former selves in the throes of a five game losing streak, who is left?

Tom Glavine, completing his makeover from Braves washout to another ageing mound master, pitched 7 shutout innings against his former mates, allowing only 4 hits and lowering his ERA against the Braves over his last five starts to 0.93. So much for the stigma of pitching against Atlanta.

Oh so many little heroes. Wagner throwing 6 consecutive sliders to the Jones Boys and despite Wright, getting both of them out eventually before striking out
Jeff Francoeur on fastballs to earn his 7th save of the season, looking worth every penny spent. Heilman putting the Braves down 1-2-3 in the 8th to preserve the fragile lead, handing it over to Wagner.

Mysteriously, Carlos Delgado struck out four straight times. Wright also went 0 for 4, striking out twice. For all the hype, it's interesting to note that Xavier Nady is hitting only .216 in road games this season versus .436 at Shea. The only other interesting stat I have to give today is that Jose Reyes, quiet yesterday, is still hitting .357 with runners in scoring position so far this season.

The Flying Kaz Man Now Has An Eight Game Winning Streak

Let's hear it for the man we thought might end up more mocked at Shea than Jorge Julio or, dare we say it, Carlos Beltran - Kaz Matsui, who has done everything absolutely right since his return to the lineup making us quickly forget about Anderson Hernandez, hitting .344 and fielding better than David Wright.

This was a game Larry Jones said was about as close to a must win game in April you can get. That says it all about the Mets and Braves this season. Seven games is alot of ground to make up. Not impossible, mind you, but if the Mets can finish off their victim properly with an historical sweep at Turner Field, well, you can just about hear the air leaking out of the NL East race already.


Alot of excitement about Mike Pelfrey's debut in Double AA ball for Binghamton, 5 2/3 scoreless innings of work, 8 Ks and 3 hits surrendered.

Couldn't help but notice Henry Owens, Pelfrey's teammate and his 31 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings pitched. The Mets aren't hurting in the pen but wow, it's something to think about as the season wears on.

If you're interested in the Jets as well, I'll pimp one of my other sites, Sports Amnesia which has the first round draft developments

Sunday it's Trax against Kyle Davies, who tossed a complete game humiliation against us his last time out.


Lets Keep Kicking Them Whilst They're Down!

(Thank you very much for two homeruns instead of three errors)

Does this make up for the three errors now?

Before we all step into the giddy machine and start talking about winning the NL East let us not forget that the last series against the Braves started with a Met's victory too. Pregame the WFAN broadcast booth couldn't contain their excitement, quoting Davey Johnson's infamous "I don't want to just win this year, I want to dominate," speech, indoctrinating the listeners with a fevered sort of expectation. This is the series where we can expect vindication. This is the series we will point to in the offseason, hey, remember when the Mets dismantled the Braves at Turner Field and knocked them out of the race by May? Pshaw. Hand on to your hats, fellahs. I'll be impressed with a sweep and nothing less. Two out of three is a prerequisite.

But for one day anyway, let's sing the praises of David Wright as hard as we lamented his bone-headed, game-losing errors a little over a week ago.

Last night were Wright's 10th and 11th homers against Atlanta, more than any other team and his ninth-inning blast was his sixth at Turner Field -- the most at any opposing stadium. The fifth time in his young career he's hit a pair of homers in one game. And look ma, no errors!

Battle of the Third Baseman of the Future and the Third Baseman of the Past

But last night was also a multi-layered pageant of documentary evidence that these are not the auld Mets and these Braves, well, they aren't looking like NL East Champions yet this season. So it's mandatory we kick them whilst they're down, before they get back on their feet and start chasing us again for first place. A six game lead we have. Could melt like the resolve of an alcoholic at a wine tasting in the dog days of August but the key here is to get these games against the Braves out of the way with as many games between us in the rear view mirror as possible.

And Pedro pitched the same magnificent game he nearly always pitches, virtually flawless save for the predictable homer surrendered to a Jones Boy, this time Larry, back off the DL with his two run homer to reduce the margin of error to 3-2 in the 6th inning.

But you know what? Not even at Turner Field, holding on to this fragile one run lead did this game ever feel like it could be swung in the Braves favour. Their bullpen sucks and if their starting pitching doesn't keep them in the game with a few run cushion, chances are, the Braves will be beat.

And let's not forget the all-important first run scored factor. How many games have the Mets scored first now and how many of those games churned out a victory? Strike first in a game like this between two aces and you hold the psychological advantage.

Pedro became the first Mets pitcher since Frank Viola in 1990 to win his first five starts. He joins auld man Gary Maddux in the Geezer's Club at 5-0. Very impressive for a guy with a cranky toe, isnt' it? When was the last time we heard about that elusive toe anyway? Does it seem like a decade ago our entire fragile season hung in the balance of Pedro's toe and now look at him...making mince pies of opposition.

There were a few moments in yesterday's game, not the predictable moments, like the two Wright homers or the Jose Reyes stand-up triple to give the Mets a 2-0 lead. Not the wonder of watching Smoltz continue to struggle despite his 178 career victories and 154 career saves. Not Kaz Matsui suddenly playing like the Kaz Matsui we bought out of Japan a few years ago, 10 for 27 before last night coming off the DL.

Things like Paul LoDuca throwing out Francoeur off a Pedro change up in the 7th inning reminding us this is a different Met team, no Piazza handicap for Brave baserunners even though LoDuca has still thrown out only 3 of 20 potential base stealers.

Things like the Chimps of Turner Field showing a surprising amount of class for a bunch confederate flag, tomahawk chopping automotons when they gave Julio Franco a remarkable standing ovation. Are these the same fans that won't even show up to watch their team at home in the playoffs?

And yes, things like Billy Wagner coming in to face Renteria and the Jones Boys and better still, striking out Larry Jones, his 12th career K against him and then, icing on the cake, hitting Andruw Jones. I mean, what better performance is that when you make Larry look like a fool and hit the other Jones? That's how to take care of the Braves.

Bases loaded, Todd Pratt to the plate. Swoosh, down go the Braves on three strikeouts to end the game.

Bad bat won't hit Wagner in the bottom of the 9th, swoosh! (and ps, I know that isn't Pratt but you try and find that picture - the Todd Pratt Conspiracy is keeping that picture off the net!)

Lastly, fragile little Carlos Beltran nursing his poor little hammy back to health misss out on yet another Braves game. It's getting to be a bit too much. You think Willie isn't thinking to himself, what is this little wanker doing, begging out of another urgent rivalry game? Willie in the pregame playing the diplomat about Beltran but he must be seething inside. Provided of course, he hasn't forgotten about Carlos Beltran already. Who needs him?

Well, we might not need him at the moment and if anything, this builds the character of the team even more, but we will need him before this season is over, not drawing walks and playing pretty, but making like the Houston Astro postseason Carlos Beltran blasting homer after homer on the way to the World Series.


Yusaku Iriki has suspended 50 games for violating baseball's drug policy. What else can you think but, idiot? He tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance, tuna rolls.

Bannister on the DL and Victor Diaz is back with the club. Guess he had to get the nod over the sizzling Lastings Milledge simply because Diaz is due some respect and Milledge will have his day when the Mets trade Beltran to the Dodgers for oh, I dunno, Jae Seo?


Ready Or Not, Turner Field, Here We Come!

Interesting stat about to be turned on it's head?

Since it opened in 1997, the Mets are 20-51 at Turner Field. They went 1-8 here last season, 2-7 in 2004, 3-7 in 2003. In all, the Mets have not won a season series against Atlanta since 1997.

Pedro Martinez will face John Smoltz for the sixth time this evening, followed by a Tom Glavine-John Thomson matchup tomorrow. Steve Trachsel squares off against Kyle Davies in the Sunday finale.

The verdict?

Wishful thinking or not, Wednesday night's improbable comeback victory over the Giants to conclude a winning road trip shows just what this team is made of. The Army notes that the Braves domination over the Mets cannot go on forever and now is just as good a time as any to begin driving the stake into the heart of it's worse nemisis.

Mets will take two of three from the Braves and silence alot of doubters by the beginning of May.


Late Inning Madness Gives Mets 9-7 Win

It took either alot of guts or alot of stupidity to pitch to Barry Bonds when he represented the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the 9th inning and first base wide open, waving her arms frantically and alluringly.

Then again, Billy Wagner was on the mound, and pitching out of a situation like this to preserve a two run win is precisely why he was hired. Not to mention the fact Bonds had been only 2 for 12 against him in the past.

Steroid Beats Sandman

Result aside, it's the type of classic baseball theatre you yearn for: fireballing closer against beleaguered homerun king, mano a mano, no cowardly intentional walks in the making. Wagner pumped fastballs of 97, 96 and 96 miles an hour whilst the crowd chanted Bonds' name, the atmosphere pregnant with hope and anticipation before Wagner threw one high and outside at 99 m.p.h. and Bonds yanked it out for the game-tying homer. Classic all the way.

"My strength is his strength," Wagner said afterwards. "I can't worry about what-ifs."

Bonds' two-run pinch-hit homer in previous seasons would have demoralised the Mets, would have virtually sealed the loss but in this season, it merely postponed the inevitable 9-7 Met victory, the victory which sees them end their 7 game Western road trip with a winning record, all in a game chockablock with excitement and twists.

For not only did the Mets have to scratch out what seemed to be an insurmountable 3 run lead in the 8th on the 48 year old Julio Franco's pinch hit two-run single, they had to come back after what should have been a demoralising 9th inning pinch hit homer by Bonds and still scratch out the victory.

Julio The "I don't believe in age," Wonder smacks should have been the game-winning single in the 8th. (not to mention the second-auldest man in baseball to steal a base...)

And not only did they come back in the 11th inning to score two more runs, one on a Chris Woodward RBI double and the other on a Jose Reyes RBI single that followed, but the bullpen, without their closer and improbably led by Darren Oliver, shut the Giants down for the final two innings to preserve the victory. And the best part? Guess who made the final out for the Giants. Barry Bonds, that's who. Poetic justice.

Wagner can't really be faulted for extending this game unnecessarily, nor can Willie. Wagner had the Giants on the ropes in the 9th after striking out the first two Giants he faced before David Wright's unfortunately timed throwing error put Moises Alou, who absolutely killed the Mets with a 7 for 12 series and 7 RBIs to boot, on first base and gave Barry Bonds the opportunity to pinch hit in the first place.

Wright's mistake also cost Julio Franco his deserved laurels for the clutch pinch hit and the second oldest base stealer in history but the error wasn't as costly as the three against the Braves so although it's lamentable, there's no reason to hang the goat's head on Wright.

BB rests his strained hammy at the plate.

Brian Bannister started the game for the Mets and although batters had been hitting just .181 against him going into last night's game, perhaps ominously Felipe Alou had commented on his team looking for Bannister's fastball and suddenly, Bannister seemed hittable. 7 hits in 5 innings worth hittable. But we learn that Bannister is not merely a budding starter, he is also a hitter, now hitting .400 and unfortunately, by virtue of his double in the 6th, finding himself as the go-ahead run, stumbling around third with a strained right hamstring and the first thought is who the hell will take his place?

Why not Lima for comic relief? Because we already have the Zambranocoaster, that's why. What about digging up Maine or giving Oliver a shot for a start or two? This week will tell how it pans out, once the degree of injury is learned and we can all speculate on the wisdom of the next step taken.


Cliff Floyd can't be entirely faulted for his slow start. He's hitting the ball well, just isn't getting the breaks yet. Robbed onced by Randy Winn of extra bases, he finished 0 for 4 with a pair of walks and is hitting .188 on the season.

But for every disappointment, an equal surprise. Who would have imagined Ramon Castro hitting .429 after going 3 for 6 at the plate?

And what about Matsui's outstanding sliding catch to end rally making you wonder if he's overcome his Mets-long slump both in the field and at the plate. Is he really hitting .320 so far?!

And how odd that Reyes earns a rare walk to start the game and then gets picked off first. D'oh! Not odd that he made up for it later with two more stolen bases, giving him 10 on the season and leading the Majors.


In spite of Bannister's uncertainty, Steve Trachsel will pitch Sunday in his place against the Braves at Turner Field, with Pedro Martinez (Friday) and Tom Glavine (Saturday) taking the first two games.

Yes, the Braves. Pedro v. Smoltz to start it off. The excitement is just beginning.

Anatomy of A Mets Victory

This was pretty much how it was drawn up in the offseason planning room this season. Steve Trachsel's back holding up and pitching brilliantly, Xavier Nady for Mike Cameron and the addition of Duaner Sanchez and Billy Wagner to keep things shut tight so victory couldn't escape out the barn door and run wild into the night until it became another frustrating loss.

In the end, this game was about homers and Steve Trachsel's brutally efficient performance: six innings of three hit, one-run, low rent ball.

Trachsel shows his moves in scoliotic dance masquerading as a fielding gesture...

Homers, homers everywhere. Bonds hit one to lead off the second inning and tie the score 1-1 and pulling within four homers of Babe Ruth, who had a diet of hotdogs and beer instead of steroids for pretty much the same result.

Shouldn't Bonds' homerun trot be followed by an army of Feds with Writs and Warrants in their sweaty paws?

The rest of the game was quiet with Trachsel and Jamey Wright putting up scoreless inning after scoreless inning until the Man Who Made Omar Look Like A Genius, Xavier Nady hit a lead off homer of his own over the outstretched glove of Bonds in left and gave the Mets a 2-1 lead. Then in the 8th, Cliff Floyd, now all the way up to .200 on the season, punched a two run homer with David Wright on board to broaden the Mets lead to 4-1 and that was just how the dazzling combination of Duaner Sanchez, earning his fifth "hold" of the season and Billy Wagner his fifth save, left it. A Mets victory tightly sealed, a Braves loss to the Brewers giving the Mets a four game cushion and a road trip almost fully redeemed.


Over six innings, Trachsel threw only 73 pitches and Wright, tiring for the Giants, had thrown 108 by the time he'd finished in the 8th. Wagner, fittingly, retired Bonds on a hopefull fly ball to the outfield to end the game.


Meanwhile, back in Gotham City, or wherever it is the CNNSI offices are, full rumination is given to the now-not-so-preposterous notion that The Mets Can Unseat The Braves.

"The Mets seem to be doing two things really well so far: hitting and pitching. Sounds simple, but they get hits, move guys along -- sending runners to get them in scoring position -- and efficiently knock them in."


Other highlights included the Giants running themselves out of rallies. First of all, two outfield assists by the Mets in the first two innings. Nady threw out a silly effort by Niekro to stretch a single into a double and then in the 2nd inning, Endy Chavez filling in for Carlos Beltran for the 100th game this season (or so it seems) threw out Moises Alou at third on a sweet relay from himself to Reyes to Wright.


The Mets promoted the right-hander Mike Pelfrey, their No. 1 draft pick in 2005, to Class AA Binghamton after he went 2-1 with a 1.64 earned run average in four starts at Class A St. Lucie. Pelfrey, who struck out 26 batters and walked 2, is scheduled to ease the pain of Victor Zambrano for Scott Kazmir provided he isn't traded for Roger Pavlick or Rex Barney in the near future. (Fortunately, Pavlick and Barney have retired but you get the picture...)

Tonight, the Giants will start the right-hander Matt Morris instead of the scheduled starter, Jason Schmidt because Morris threw only eight pitches before being ejected Sunday in Colorado. The Mets will start Brian Bannister. Bannister will be trying to increase his walks per inning ratio and set a record for most bases loaded jams extracted from in the history of mankind.

And HEY KIDS! believe it or not, Kaz Matsui has hit safely in all five games he's started so far this season for the Mets!


The Alou Is Mightier Than The Bonds

Moises Alou poses a funny question. Should you walk the steroid-scandaled human controversy Barry Bonds who is hitting .222 and looking as though he's had enough both of the media and baseball, or should you pitch to him and try to avoid filling up the bases for Alou, who is hitting .327?

Willie chose to follow history, walking Bonds 3 bloody times making the Mets pay when Alou drove in 5 runs on 3 hits and virtually single-handedly defeated the Mets, 6-2. Normally Willie couldn't be faulted for such a strategy because Bonds has killed the Mets in the past as he has most teams, but this isn't Bonds' season just yet and the respect afforded him by Willie was almost absurd. Especially as it continued inning after inning and Alou made him pay. Let's hope Willie learned something out of this. Let the .222 hitter swing, no matter what his history.

Bonds has a larf with Beltran and Julio Franco as he tells the story of how stupid Willie is for walking him three times even though he can't hit his way out of a paper bag this season. Notice how much pain Carlos Beltran is in. Funny stuff.

Tom Glavine lost his second game of the season with his worst performance of the season, surrendering six runs, five walks and six hits in 6 1/3 innings, half of which came on a Moises Alou three run homer, his 3rd lifetime against Glavine. Thereafter Glavine pitched well but the damage was done and when the Mets rallied back, by then, Glavine had virtually pitched himself out of the game.

Hey, at least his hammy isn't dodgy like our multimillion dollar whinger Carlos Beltran. Beltran is rumoured to be headed for the DL, yawn, how unexpected. This gives us the chance to have Lastings Milledge called up. Milledge was batting .400 (24-for-60) for the Tides with seven doubles and four stolen bases in 18 games.

Matt Cain, the Giants starter with a consistent 95 mph fastball, pitched one of the best games of his career. Doesn't this sound familiar? Big nobody settles down Mets with gruesomely efficient game. Cain retired the minimum through five excruciating innings.

The Mets are now under .500 on this road trip. Granted, a Western trip is never easy but it becomes important they not wallow and surrender with a lousy 3 games out of 7 or worse.

The Kaz Man got the first base hit for the Mets, not until the 6th innning, and with two down, Jose Reyes drove him home. Lo Duca followed Reyes with another base hit that broke a 1 for 16 slump and scored Reyes that made it 3-2.

Randy Winn then snuffed Delgado's potential game-tying extra base hit and the rest of the Mets 6th inning with a great catch, ending the inning and most likely, the game.

Lance Niekro thrust the final dagger in the Mets with a hit that made it 4-2, Glavine was out after 110 pitches and Heilman, after Willie again elected to walk Bonds to face Alou and again paid the price as Alou knocked in two more runs to give the Giants an insurmountable 6-2 lead, the final score.

Nevertheless, the Mets remain 3 games above the Braves.

Tonight, another unsung hurler gets his due as Jamie Wright 2-0 2.91 will face Steve Trachsel who is 9-4 2.57 lifetime against the Giants.



One remark: If Carlos Beltran is ever healthy again, why not make him the lead off hitter and bat Jose Reyes second?

Beltran loves walking. His OBP is a testament to that. Reyes love swinging. Hit and run or no double plays, either way - a good way to solve Reyes' recent impotence as the lead off hitter. Actually, two years running. Time to try something different.


Keith Hernandez should check his eyeballs - who wouldn't want a fit bird like that in the dugout? Kelly Calabrese, massage therapist. Fitting.

Of the remarks, she says: "It is amazing that somebody can be that ignorant to actually voice that opinion if that is the opinion that he holds."

What's really amazing is that anyone cares.

Running Joke: Zambrano no longer funny

You begin to get the idea that without Victor Zambrano in the rotation, the Mets might still have MLB's best record. Even with him they aren't far off the mark at 12-6, one game behind the defending NL Champion Houston Astros at 13-5 but whilst having what amounts to a probable loss every fifth day isn't decimating to a team with pitching like the Mets, it certainly takes the fun out of things.

And, you might also say, with Jorge Julio throwing another scoreless inning of meaningless relief to drop his ERA down to 7.45, that Victor Zambrano has become the worst Met pitcher on the staff and has gained the distinction with dedication to mediocrity, consistently poor outings and relentless adherence to meaningless post-game phrases like "I'm not frustrated," as though that could turn him into Cy Young material in and of itself.

Our Pot-bellied Pitcher Sucks

The Mets have beauty and greatness when Pedro pitches and the Mets have hideousness and mediciocrity when Victor pitches. Hell, you can't have everything, can you?

Yesterday it was a grand slam off Zambrano which blew the game wide open.

Perhaps unbelievably, Zambrano had retired 22 of the previous 27 batters he'd faced with the bases loaded. Not unbelievable that he'd been in a bases loaded situation 27 times but that he hadn't given up a grand slam until yesterday. Maybe a few walks and a few wildpitches, but not a grand slam.

Well, so much for that streak as well. Brian Giles burst a grand slam off Zambrano with two outs in the 4th and the Padres were ahead 5-0 in a game they went on to win 7-4. Zambrano is 1-2 with a 9.64 ERA. If that doesn't make him a piñata for fan bile and frustration, I don't know what does.

Mike Cameron, who was traded to San Diego by the Mets, went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and two walks in his Padres debut which made him, other than Roberts, the only Padre starter not to earn a hit against the Mets yesterday.

On the other hand, Xavier Nady, whom we now believe Omar stole from the Padres for the price of Cameron, went only 3 for 17 against his former teammates with a homer and two RBIs but is still hitting .324 for the season.

Missing out of the Met lineup yet again was Carlos Beltran and his little hamstrings, along with Jose Reyes, who had been hitless in four of his last six games. Making the lineup more comical than just Zambrano on the mound, Kaz Matsui was playing second base and leading off.

So basically, Kaz Matsui leading off and Victor Zambrano your starting pitcher, Willie Randolph gave this game away, gave away the chance at winning a 4 game series in San Diego on the way to face Armandogeddon and the Giants.

Unable to successfully put bat to ball, the Kaz Man puts foot to bat in frustration.

Those Giants just concluded a series in Colorado with a game that featured four hit batters and five ejections, including both managers.

The Mets have a 4-16 record in San Francisco in the last six seasons. Tom Glavine, who has given up one earned run in his last 14 innings, will start the opening game against Matt Cain who hasn't pitched more than 5 innings in an outing.

According to some sources, the Marlins offered D Train for David Wright on more than one occasion. Not surprisingly, Omar quickly rejected it.


You Are Now Entering The Pedrosphere

I suppose it was meant to be a nice tribute to honour the military serving in the San Diego area but really, when the Padres came out for a game last night dressed in camouflage baseball uniforms, you had to wonder how humiliated they must have been looking so ridiculous and so un-baseball like. Enough to lose the game, 8-1.

Back to back homers by Nady and Ramon Castro in addition to yet another by Carlos Delgado, his third consecutive game homering which now puts him one shy of the Mets record for April, were more than sufficient to help give Pedro and easy and dominating victory.

Pedro struck out 11 and allowed only 4 base runners over seven innings.

I know Mike Piazza's supposed to married to a really fit bird and all but you can't deny the comical dandism of this man, hands on hips as he is, styled in a hideous camouflage baseball kit.

Piazza scored the Padres lone run with a moon shot off Pedro in the second inning which did little to slow Pedro or the Mets.

The Mets have a chance tomorrow for a rare three of four series victory on the road however Victor Zambrano is pitching for the Mets and thus, we'll have to be happy with a split.

Padres 2 Mets 1, 14 innings of Zzzzzzz

"Well, if you're going to make outs, make 'em fast." - Cliff Floyd spouted this after noting how quickly the Mets played through five extra innings of work. Maybe that's why Cliff Floyd is hitting .208 this season. He's in a hurry to get out and go home.

Delgado's homer was the sole Met run in 14 fruitless innings

A night after battering what was allegedly the best bullpen in baseball the Mets produced only two base runners in five extra innings of play and not surprisingly, the first team to score were their opponents and the Mets lost an uninspiring game, 2-1.

Together, the Mets and Padres accumulated 18 hits and struck out 24 times.

Brian Bannister? The skeleton in his closet appears to be the yearning ache for walking batters. He gave up only 4 hits but walked six, making that 15 walks in 23 innings pitched. Whilst that might be sufficient against the likes of the Padres, what do you think a team like the Braves or the Cardinals would do with that many unnecessary baserunners? Bannister's 2.35 ERA would appear to reflect a clever ability to extract himself from potential disasters of his own making but I don't think you can rely on guile all season long when you're walking that many batters. Sooner or later it's going to catch up to him and quickly.

What was impressive was the bullpen throwing nearly 8 scoreless innings before Chad Bradford allowed Geoff Blum's RBI single in the bottom of the 14th to put a merciful end to a merciless night.

Replacement Mets Kaz Matsui and Endy Chavez were a combined two for ten from the plate but more importantly, left 8 runners on base. Endy Chavez is now hitting a brisk .143 on the season. What is the stuttering spiel of misguided logic which explains what Endy Chavez is doing playing centerfield during this uncertain period of Carlos Beltran's delicate hamstrings when Lastings Milledge is hitting .396 in his first 16 games with the Tides. You've got Victor Diaz and Milledge wasting away in Norfolk whilst the likes of Endy Chavez and Jose Valentin continue wasting space on the Mets roster.

Fair enough if you are making the argument that Diaz and Milledge need playing time and sitting on the bench is a waste of their growth but look, Chavez has played in as many games (12) as Beltran in center and Valentin has made appearances in 13 games so clearly, there's plenty of playing time to be had.

Speaking of Beltran, Carlos made an appearance in last night's game as a pinch hitter in the 7th inning with two outs and two men on only to ground out after a sharp play by Padre second baseman Josh Barfield. Carlos was thrown out without runnning full speed and still whinged about tightness in the hammies after the game.

Tight hamstrings, what a larf. There's something about finely tuned athletic bodies barking out delicate pain when multimillion dollar contracts are signed. You could empathise that the Mets will need a healthy Beltran for an entire season and it's best not to take any chances this early but after a season haunted by soreness last year, this is getting a little bit too predictable from Beltran. Dodgy right quadriceps last season were the excuse when he stumbled through May and June. Wonder what his offseason work regimen is like. In any event, the Multimillion dollar Man is hitting .143 with runners in scoring position this season. Endy Chavez is hitting .500 in 4 at bats with runners in scoring position, just to put it in perspective.

"Hamstrings are very funny. Very mysterious," Willie Randolph observed, the wisdom of all his years in baseball finally coming to fruition.

Very funny indeed, those hamstrings. I think I may have pulled one myself, just laughing about them.


Padre Pen Plunders Peavey's Gem, 7-2

See what happens when you don't pitch a complete game against the Mets and you've got a Padre bullpen?

After two consecutive losses to the Braves with two consecutive pitchers tossing complete game victories against them, an ugly feeling of deja puke was creeping up along the backs of our throats like a vengeful, twisting snake as inning after inning against Jake Peavey proved equally fruitless and the body count of futility mounted to a mere 3 runs over 25 innings.

For seven innings, Jake Peavey baffled Met batters much as Davies and Hudson had done for the Braves before him but mistakenly left his 4-hit one run gem to the "best bullpen in baseball" after a dazzling seven innings which proved to be a fatal mistake.

In the top of the 8th, rallied by a double from Nady and then a pinch hit homerun by Julio Franco, the Mets suddenly and inexplicably seized victory from the jaws of defeat to grab a 3-2 lead off of Scott Linebrink, ruining Peavey's gem and opening the flood gates like a 47 year old's bowels emptying after a bowl of Mexican chili washed down with Rio Grande water. Franco became the oldest man ever to hit a major league homerun.

Reyes scored on a bunt single by Chavez and then Chavez was brought in by Carlos Delgado's two-run homer and then further still the runs came through pitching changes and outless plate appearances and by the time the dust cleared, the Mets were suddenly on top by a 7-2 margin.

And to think the Padres bullpen performed this miraculous meltdown without the benefit of a Jorge Julio to sink them. Perhaps somewhere in the alleyways and soup kitchens of Major League Baseball there are worse answers than Jorge Julio for a bullpen trying to protect a 2-1 lead.

Jorge came in for the Mets in the 9th with a comfortable 5 run lead and pitched flawlessly, striking out two of three to end the game and bring his ERA nearer to single digits for the first time all season. Jorge Julio is rapidly establishing his dominance when it comes to protecting leads of 5 runs or larger and although there may not yet be any baseball terminology for such a pitcher, recongition should be forthcoming for the man who has experienced three consecutive scoreless outings, three shutout innings with three massive leads, striking out 5 in his last 3 innings.

The Kaz Man slides past Piazza for completion of his in-the-park-homer

Other than Peavey's pitching prowess stifling the Mets for too many nervy innings, the game was marked by Kaz Matsui's 2006 Met debut and like his Met debuts the previous two seasons, he hit a homer in his first at-bat, this time an in-the-park number that served as the sole Met run over the first seven, futile innings.

You might have a laugh that Mike Piazza went 0 for 3 and ground into a double play in his first at-bat against the Mets. Amazingly and unexpectedly, nary a Met baserunner stole second on Piazza's watch but that was owed more to the paltry number of Met baserunners whilst Piazza was in the game than to any skill or threat on Piazza's part.


Let's not forget the brilliant bullpen performance, in contrast to that of the Padres, in the bottom of the 7th when with the Padres clinging to a one-run lead and trying to build upon it when Trachsel put runners on first and second with none out, Chad Bradford came in to load the bases and then Pedro Feliciano came in for Bradford. Feliciano, ridiculed for being called up by the Mets when the need from AAA was an outfielder, promptly induced pinch hitter Geoff Blum into a pop up and THEN, showing a rare competency in guiding the bullpen absent much of last season, Willie Randolph called in Duaner Sanchez to persuade the next Padre into a rally-killing double play that basically, saved the game and allowed the Mets' massive rally.


And let's not forget Steve Trachsel, pitching on normal rest rather than getting the Willie Randolph Unofficial Doghouse Holiday, keeping the Mets in the game through 6 positive innings, allowing 2 runs on six hits with 101 pitches. By contrast, Duaner Sanchez earned the victory despite throwing only two pitches.


And fans, don't forget to sing the New Mets Song below....


My 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

Pre Game Junk

The first pitch for tonight's game at San Diego is scheduled for 3 am, my time. Frankly, it'll be easier getting up at 3 to listen than it would be staying up until three for a home night game...

In any event, whilst there is time to kill, shall we point out for the trillionth time that not only is Piazza facing his auld team but so is Xavier Nady?

Nady, who never found a permanent niche in San Diego, is batting .373 with four homers and eight RBIs, ranking among the National League leaders in batting and slugging.

Piazza is batting .231 with 1 homer and 4 RBIs in 10 games.

Mike Cameron, acquired for Nady, starts his rehab assignment at Class A Lake Elsinore on Friday night.

And looking even further ahead, Armandogeddon is coming off the DL just in time for the Mets visit to Steroid Stadium.

Other bits and bobs:

The Onion had time to pan Pedro on Pedro's Success...

A review of the Brief History of Closer Music...(complete with audio for the unfamiliar tunes...)

Tonight's Padre pitcher, Jake Peavy (1-2, 5.50 ERA) is 3-1 with a 3.55 record against the Mets in six career starts.

In 16 career starts against the Padres, Trachsel is 6-8 with a 5.61 ERA.


Friday: Mets (Brian Bannister, 2-0, 2.50 ERA) at Padres (Woody Williams, 1-0, 4.50 ERA), 10:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Mets (Pedro Martinez, 3-0, 3.66 ERA) at Padres (Chris Young, 2-0, 2.95 ERA), 10:05 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Mets (Victor Zambrano, 1-1, 4.82 ERA) at Padres (Clay Hensley, 0-1, 6.00 ERA), 4:05 p.m. ET


The Army's prediction is that the Mets take 3 of 4 in San Diego to bounce back...after all, other than the Red Sox, we've still got the best record in baseball.


Hudson Outduels Glavine Out-Wright

Well...what do we say to this? What do we say to the bubble getting burst by the Braves, taking two of three of us at home like it was every other year in memory not the special season for the Mets?

You can dress it up however you want but it's still a pig 7-1 or 2-1.

Is that the sound of the wind leaving the sails?

Sure, the Mets, like the Braves were depleted offensively. Floyd, Beltran, Hernandez and Lo Duca were all out forcing Willie to feed the likes of the 0 for 15 Valentin into the lineup like chum into shark-infested waters. Is it official yet? Jose Valentin, please remove your belongings from your locker and move on.

Yeah, we can call it a pitcher's duel. Depleted rosters will do that. Hudson had a no-hitter through the first five innings and Glavine breezed until Andruw Jones humped us again with his fourth homer in three games to make it 1-0 in the 7th. But being on the losing end of a pitcher's duel is about as meaningful as another whistful Art Howeism.

Yup, it's early. If the Mets had swept this series we'd be calling it a season no doubt and on the flip side, the best you can comfort yourself is with so many games left against the Braves, the battle has just begun. Of course, that can also mean we'll be psychologically bankrupted by June.

First series we've lost all season and who do we lose it to? Why yes indeed, the Braves.

What shall we make of David Wright's 3 errors and 0 for the Atlanta series? The convenience of Beltran and Floyd's sudden injuries? The reason for Endy Chavez playing center or Valentin being on the team at all whilst Lastings Milledge is hitting .386 with extra base hits in 7 of his last 9 games down in Norfolk?

The season is still young but we've been swindled again and the bitterness of those Braves succeeding yet again where the Mets have failed is palatable.

But before you think the Mets have hit rock bottom, the news is that Anderson Hernandez has a bulging disc and is headed for DL Town. Guess who's coming to dinner? Indeed, adding fuel to the fires of doom, Kaz Matsui, that's who.

The punching bags for the season are already in place and yet the question remaining is who will earn the most scorn and derision of Mets fans, who will collect the heaviest heat, Matsui, Zambrano or Julio?

Yes, on our way out to San Diego to face Mike Piazza and company, two consecutive losses to our arch rivals under our belts, the once heady euphoria of a quick start fizzling like piss on a fire as the auld doubts slowly creep in. Goodbye big homestand, hello Western road trip.

Best to just forget this one lads.

Just move along and forget all about it.

Victor Flies The Mets Into The Side of The Mountain

"I SHOT an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where:
For so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Arrow and The Song

Ok, you didn't really expect the Braves to just fall over dead after one game when they've had 14 consecutive seasons as the NL East champs, did you?

You didn't really think the Mets Momentum train was moving so steadily and ahead of schedule that not even a millstone around the neck like the pitching of Victor Zambrano could sink us, did you? Not even if the Mets were facing Kyle Davies and all his 23 games of experience, his 8.38 ERA and 4 homers surrendered in a mere 9.2 innings of previous work this season, his four straight losing decisions dating to last season.

"Don't worry, Victor," Lo Duca tells Zambrano. "You've still got a firmer bum than Pedro..."

Well, fear not. The Mets are mortal after all, even if it might only be for a single game.

Fielding a starting lineup which saw Jose Valentin in left, Chris Woodward at second and Endy Chavez in centerfield and Victor Zambrano on the mound you might have thought for a moment this was still Spring Training and this was the split squad that showed up.

Yes, a lineup which, through the genious of someone in the hierarchy had Victor Diaz, an outfielder in a time when two Met starting outfielders are hurt, getting sent down to AAA whilst Pedro Feliciano, having pitched sloppy with 3 earned runs in a mere four innings of work even at the AAA level this season, was summoned up to mothership and more capable arms, like Heath Bell were left to linger, or rot, down in Norfolk.

In any event, this game had all the makings of a staged loss, as though the Mets were saying to the Braves "we'll tie one arm behind are backs, go on, give us your best shot!" just to prove that they could do it.

Of course, Victor Zambrano cannot be avoided forever. He is part of the rotation until something more sensible is done about this gaping hole of uselessness, like demoting Victor Diaz and promoting Pedro Feliciano.

Victor lasted all of five, brutal innings by which time he had surrendered an all-but-insurmountable 7-1 lead via a series of gaffes, two-out cockups and gopher balls, two of which came courtesy of Andruw Jones who is quickly threatening to become Larry, Chase Utley and Pat Burrell all rolled into one. Big surprise. Zambrano went 0-3 against the Braves last year and this year doesn't look any better. How much longer until pitching guru Rick Peterson throws up his arms in disgust and the Mets start thinking about how delicious someone like John Maine or Yasaku Iriki might look in his stead. (and speaking of Norfolk starters, how long is Jose Lima going to linger down there with his 8.40 ERA in three starts?)

Although Jones went down swinging in the first (unlike his teammates who battered Victor for two doubles, a single and two runs,) he didn't waste much time thereafter with three hits and four RBIs on the night to virtually guarantee victory.

But certainly more puzzling than Zambrano's predictably putrid performance was the silence of Met bats in the face of this insult. Our ace in the hole, Carlos Delgado went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, ending his 11-game hitting streak. David Wright had his second straight night of silence. Jose Reyes hasn't had a hit in two games against these Braves and ended his streak of 4 consecutive games with a walk, etc., etc. You get the picture.

Yessss. Let's look on the bright side. Feliciano managed three scoreless innings of meaningless relief and mop up man extraordinaire Jorge Julio even looked competent compared to Zambrano, throwing an inning of scoreless relief, striking out two of three batters.

So what we'll be wanting to read in the morning papers is the Mets taking this loss with as much concern as Braves manager Bobby Cox did following Monday night's loss with a shrug and a chuckle.

Next up, Tim Hudson pitches for Atlanta against Tom Glavine (2-8 against the Braves)in the rubber match of the series Wednesday afternoon...


Pedro And The New Heroes Of The East

You have to wonder which was more important last night, seeing Pedro earn career win number 200 against the Braves or seeing the Mets as a team perform a baseball version of dunking the Braves, wherein the subject is immersed in a vat of water until they are pulled up to confess they are no longer champions of the NL East and if they don't confess, they are dunked again and again until they do.

Mets, dunking Braves until they confess they are inferior!

Barely two weeks into the season and the Mets already lead the Braves by five full games, beating the Braves in the way the Braves usually beat them: outplaying, outperforming and outscoring the opponent.

"Good pitching, some power, good relief, good defense," Glavine said of how the Braves were beat. "And no mistakes." Oh, Tommy Boy, it must finally feel good to be a Met.

Pedro is now 200-84, the fewest losses for any of the 103 pitchers with 200 wins. Question is, will he go to the Hall of Fame in a Mets or a Red Sox cap?

W-L Pct.
Pedro Martinez 200-84 .704
Whitey Ford 236-106 .690
Lefty Grove 300-141 .680
Christy Mathewson 373-188 .665
Roger Clemens 341-172 .665
Randy Johnson 265-137 .659

Carlos Delgado and Xavier Nady each homered and drove in two runs for the Mets (10-2), who improved the best record in baseball and extended the fastest start in franchise history and the best thing about it was the Braves won't be able to whinge about not having Larry Jones or Renteria or otherwise try to cheapen this important victory because the Mets didn't have Cliff Floyd or Carlos Beltran either.

For Delgado, it was his 3rd homer in 5 games and he's hitting at a .375 clip whilst David Wright, going 0 for 4, dropped to a more credible .391.

Lo Duca, who joined Nady with three hits of his own, probably put it best about the New Mets thinking about the Braves:

"When somebody has your number, you’ve got to play extra hard,” he added. “We need to turn the tide." (notice that he didn't say you have to feel so much pressure you choke...)

Pedro stayed in for an incredible 108 pitches (considering the magical toe issue and his lack of work in Spring Training,) and left after 6 2/3 innings, with two outs and a runner on first, giving way to Duaner Sanchez, the true hero of the bullpen, who carried the game into the 9th for Billy Wagner without incident, striking out two of the four Braves he faced as the Shea winds added movement to breaking balls, and Sanchez knew how to use them.

And Billy, Mr Sandman, allowed only one Brave to get on base whilst striking out two, fittingly, the last was former Met Todd Pratt and, the lone baserunner was only there after he was hit by Wagner. Fair enough. If you're going to let a Brave on base, make him pay for it.

So that was it. One game against the Braves, one win. It means the world to Pedro to earn his 200th and although the season is young, this means the world to the Mets as well even if it is only the first of 9 games to be played against the Braves over the next 21 days, these 21 days which will shape the NL East and mark the new rulers.

And for Pedro, recognition that for all those who doubted him, he is indeed, a great pitcher:


What is the verdict on Our Team, Our Time?

No doubt, Meet the Mets is a cornball song with boring lyrics but jesus, Our Team, Our Time, by any stretch of the imagination, simply sucks. Nothing sucks more than fake rap songs except maybe fake rap songs sung by grandmothers. I don't know if this is meant to be rap or simply hip hop or just something to make you want to bring your own bat to the game and smash the opposition's skull, but it is certainly more aggressive than "bring your kiddies and bring your wife" yet short of "bring your Glocks and bring your knives", making this something of an enigma in that you do not know precisely what the message is. Are we evil, are we simply street smart, are we culturally diverse? Musically, this doesn't inspire images of baseball, more like sitting in someone's basement whilst they work out some stupid little song on their Casio keyboard.

Bring Me A Bucket, I'm Going To Throw Up.

And how many times do they repeat that stupid phrase in the song? Eleven bloody times, that's how many. "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. "It was a pretty cool song."

Pretty cool song my arse. If they want it to be cool, why don't they lay out some of those millions and get a real band to come up with a real song and give us something to be proud of?


Mets Ride the Bannercoaster To Victory

Yesterday wasn't an easy game on the nerves.

Sure, it's only April and sure, the Mets had won 8 of their first 10 for officially, their best start ever, but for some strange reason, the weight of expectation is heavier than the weight of resignation and thus, yesterday's game, a rollercoaster of near misses, was difficult to endure.

But in the end the Mets prevailed firstly because Bannister pitched a bend-but-don't-break sort of game, secondly because the Mets offence continued to sizzle and perhaps lastly because whilst the Mets bullpen was surprisingly sturdy (yes, even Jorge Julio, a 9th inning of scoreless relief), the Brewers' bullpen, which had entered the game with a 2.27 earned run average, best in the major leagues, was not. When Jorge De La Rosa and Jared Fernandez imploded for five runs in the eighth inning to help lift the Mets to their deceptively large 9-3 victory, that MLB best ERA suddenly ballooned to 3.37.

Imagine another season of Mientkiewicz at first base instead...


Let's begin with the starter, rookie Brian Bannister. The lad's been great to date, surprising everyone with his guile and quick success but let's face it, who really wanted to be relying on a rookie starter to get us through the bumpy bits already; trying to avoid hosting Atlanta on the heels of a two game skid to the Brewers?

Brian Bannister again showed his poise under potential disasters created by his own hand. He wiggled out of two bases-loaded situations and stranded 10 Milwaukee Brewers in five difficult-to-watch innings of work.

He issued a single and a walk in the first inning only to escape.

As if to prove he could escape any potential disaster of his own making, in the second, he went out and made it evening more difficult, allowing a leadoff double and then walking two in a row to load the bases with no outs. And believe me, auspicious beginnings have long been the bane of previous pitchers who watched the houses of their starts collapse before the foundation was even finished.

Bases loaded, no outs and the rookie proceeds to strike out the next two batters and induces the third to fly out harmlessly to end the inning without any harm save for an abundance of pitches and Willie's wary eye cast upon the bullpen.

And then in the bottom half of the second the Mets did what they'd done 10 times out of the first 11 games: seized the lead by scoring first.

David Wright started it off by a single and then one Cliff Floyd fly out later, the man we pilloried Omar for trading for, Xavier Nady, popped his 3rd homer of the season over the left field wall making it 2-0.

The #7 hitter is hitting .366. This batting order is deadly from nearly anywhere.


The 2-0 lead on the heels of the Brewers blowing the bases loaded, no-outs situation should have been sufficient to break their backs and allow the rest of the game to be experienced on cruise control but no.

In the 3rd, Bannister allowed two singles and a walk to load the bases again, this time with one out under his belt and again Houdini escaped, this time getting phenom Prince Fielder to strike out swinging and Damien Miller to fly out without allowing a single run to score.


Let's face it, if you were a Brewers fan you'd be hating the fact that your team lost a game by leaving 14 runners on base and going a miserable 1 for 16 with runners in scoring position but hey, that's for the Bratwurst and Beer to obliterate, not for us to concern ourselves with.

They may have lost two of three but at least Brewers fans had somethign to look forward to.


It may not have been pretty but by the time the fifth inning had been pitched, Bannister had thrown a massive 112 pitches, had walked five, given up six hits and had even had a wild pitch to his credit all the while surrendering a mere run for the trouble, his ERA at 2.50 whilst earning his second career victory the hard way.

And this game, which never really felt over, not even after Delgado's massive three run blast blew the game open because lurking in the background like the rumour of bird flu, was the vision of Jorge Julio entering the game with a six run lead to protect and three outs to get.

After Saturday's loss Jorge said of the booing public, "I don't listen to nothing (from) the fans. I don't care. They don't pay ... me."

(What he didn't know is that the AA battery that almost hit him from the sky luxury box came from the hand of a Wilpon or that neither Fred nor Jeff could even whisper a reply after the game so hoarse from booing they were?! Think Omar is slinking away from this trade like a dog that just farted?)

To make matter worse, Julio allowed Bill Hall, hitting .227, a double after getting the leadoff hitter out and my god, you could just see it all melting down in front of you wondering why oh why Willie with the palm of your hand smacking against your forehead.

He momentarily redeemed himself with a swinging strikeout of Prince Fielder before unleashing a wild pitch (who will we grow to remember more when the expression wild pitch is mentioned, Julio or Victor Zambrano, almost loveable by comparison?) as Hall advanced to third and then, miracle of miracles, Damien Miller flew out to Chavez in center and the game was over, Julio's ERA dropping to 15.43.


So, eleven games into the season and the Mets stand at a healty 9-2, leading the NL East by an incredible 4 games.

Next up are the dreaded Atlanta Braves looking surprisingly vulnerable already this season.

After taking two of three from the weak-hitting Padres, the starting rotation lowered their ERA from 8.59 to 6.30 but the bullpen, the real Achilles Heel of these Braves to date, blew the final game to prevent a sweep and some momentum leading up to the Mets. The bullpen has allowed 26 earned runs in a mere 47 2/3 innings of work, something hovering near a 5.00 ERA. Of 9 save opportunities, they've managed 4, all from Oscar Villarreal who has 4 victories already this season.

And for those of you keeping score at home whistfully, Mike Piazza did not make an appearance, his .226 batting average remaining steady.

The Braves have many problems at the moment and now is certainly the time for the Mets to begin the corrective procedure of ridding themselves of the mystical sway the Braves have held over them for years by smashing them to bits in this series.

Larry Jones is already on the DL and now Edgar Renteria, who has a 12 game hitting streak, is likely out for the series if not headed for the DL with the loss making a missmash of the infield as well as the batting order.

Of course, the monsterous Andruw Jones is still coming. He's got 4 homers and 16 RBIs already to go along with his .362 OBP. But Marcus Giles is hitting .204 and Jeff Francoeur, struggles along at a .208 clip.

Nevertheless, this will mark an important stage in the Mets season already. A sweep of the Braves, even this early on, could have ramifications on the Mets psyche the rest of the season. Fittingly, Pedro opens this series going for career win #200 and he will face the less-than-formidable Jorge Sosa (0-2 11.37). Sosa has failed to go more than 4 innings in his two starts this season.

Victor Zambrano will take the mound in Game Two against the even-less-than-formidable Kyle Davies (0-1 8.38) and hell, Game Three will feature Glavine against Braves ace Tim Hudson but even Hudson has started the season off slowly, 0-1 with a 9.20 ERA. There's no reason why the Mets shouldn't score 20 runs in this series and shove a sweep down their throats to show 'em we mean business but this is, after all the Braves so we'll be keeping our delirium hats and party favours in the closet until much later in the season.

And if for some crazy reason, you needed ammunition to hate the Braves even more, just have a look at this commentary on the upcoming series including Adam LaRoche taunting:

"I bet their fans can remember 14 straight titles."

Indeed, and maybe LaRoche will get a beanball from Pedro to show how clearly we remember.


Ohka Noka! Reality Rears Its Ugly Head...

"I don't have good luck." Jorge Julio, unveiling the cause behind his Mama Cass-like 19.84 ERA

It took a face like this to scare Mets batters into submission

The Mets, like a runaway train, were looking for consecutive win number eight. Tomo Ohka, winless in five decisions at Shea was looking for win number one. Somewhere along the way like a baseball version of Freaky Friday, the two sides changed realities; the Mets becoming sloppy and failing to score first in a game for the first time all season, Ohka becoming a competent pitcher, throwing seven innings of five hit ball, allowing only a single earned run and winning his first game of the season as the Brewers embarassed the Mets 8-2.

Jorge Julio completed the comedy portion of a disappointing evening by performing his "I'm an Unlucky Dog routine for the remaining embers of a dying record Mets crowd of 55,831, allowing three earned runs, two hits and hitting a batter in a lone inning of a decidedly self-deforming performance.

Jorge Julio, fulfilling the prophecies of jackals...

I mean, yes, we thought the Victor Zambrano for Scott Kazmir trade was a howler but Kazmir isn't exactly setting the Majors on fire at this point with his 4.82 ERA in 3 starts. Compared to getting a second version of Armandogeddon from the Orioles in one decade (my aren't we gullible) in return for Kris Benson, with his Leo Mazzone-improved 1.93 ERA in two starts, Zambrano for Kazmir is looking like a steal.

But one gets the feeling we'll have Jorge Julio to kick around all season so no sense in using up all our cheapshots and derisive metaphorical chanting before the season is even two weeks old.

Instead, we can examine how Steve Trachsel performs on seven whole days of rest.

Against the lowest scoring team in the league, Trachsel gave up nine hits and four runs and hit two batters for emphasis, neither of which precipitated a Jose Guillen meltdown or cleared the benches. Ok, not an apoplectic performance but as Rutherford once told Joel Goodson, "You've done a lot of solid work here, but it's just not Ivy League, now is it?"

Problem is, they're laughing at us in Milwaukee now. Well, maybe not laughing. They live in Milwaukee after all and there's only so many seconds of free time before the next bratwurst is shoved into the gob and all clear thinking ceases yet again.

"Tomo was nails today," giggled Brewers manager Ned Yost.

Not only did he shut down the Mets, but doubled in the winning run in the 4th inning when he faked a bunt and then pounded the ball over Xavier Nady's head in right field for an RBI double, his first base hit of the season.

The game wasn't always in the bag. In fact, as early as the second inning the Mets were threatening to blow yet another game wide open. This time the bats weren't quite hot enough.

With one out and two men on, Nady hit a comebacker to Ohka that should have resulted in an inning ending double play. Instead, Ohka, proving he's human after all, threw wildly to second base and the Mets suddenly had the bases chalked with only one out. That brought Ramon Castro to the plate and although he managed a sac fly to score tie the game at 1, he didn't, like his colleagues in games previous, clear the bases with a double or a game-breaking triple and that, with Trachsel waiting on deck, proved to be all the difference. The early turning point in a game the Mets were bound to play at least once in the first two weeks of this young season, a game that made up for all the lack of miscues in games previous.

But let's be honest. If someone had predicted an 8-2 start to the season, we'd have taken it without question. This isn't the end of anything, this is the natural progression of probability righting itself. These Brewers after all, won five in a row to start their season before having a similar pair of moments against the Cardinals and now, with two games split down the middle against the Mets, are tied for first in the NL Central with a 7-4 record.

This isn't a loss to sweat. Trachsel isn't going to be shipped by Bobby Valentine to Class AAA for his performance, for example although giving up a double to Ohka must stick in his craw. The wheels aren't coming off the dream team just yet.

Batting second...Anderson Hernandez?

Yes, a swinging bunt single in the first inning but this is a guy hitting .176. What ever happened to Carlos Beltran getting his shot? And speaking of Mr Hernandez, we had a chance to listen to him expound on his season to date in the pregame Mets Extra programme and frankly, if he played second base like he speaks English, he'd be Kaz Matsui.

Today, the Mets will try to secure their fourth consecutive winning series as Brewers ace Ben Sheets makes his first start of the season after a stint on the DL. Sheets will face Mets new phenom, Brian Bannister who has pitched 13 innings in his big league career and allowed his opponent to score in only one of them.

And look, if things seem glum for a day, so what. Even super closer Mariano Rivera blew a save yesterday.


7th in Row Is A Nail Biter, 4-3

In the first true test of the season against a quasi-talented Milwaukee Brewers, Aaron Heilman almost single handedly threw away a 4-1 lead with a shameful performance that lasted three batters: two hits, a wild pitch that scored a run and a walk before Willie smartly and quickly yanked him in favour of Duaner Sanchez. Sanchez saved the Mets and Heilman's Jorge Julio impression, keeping the streak alive and pushing the Mets to 8-1 on the season.

What's to talk about? Heilman's 10 pitches were almost enough to blow the game.

Billy Wagner earned his third save of the season and finally made it through a 9th inning without incident, a simple 1-2-3 closing that slammed the door on Brewer hopes, striking out Carlos Lee on consecutive sliders to end the game.

And the anticipated duel between Brewer's starter Chris Capuano, a lefty allegedly with the best pickoff move in baseball and Jose Reyes in the second inning, materialised solely in the form of distraction with Capuano's frequent tosses to first interrupted only by Lo Duca's double down the left field line to score Reyes from first and give the Mets a 1-0.

If you'd like an idea of why the Mets are so hot, other than great pitching, it should be noted that in the first 9 games of the season, the Mets have outscored their opponents through the first 3 innings by an 18-2 margin, blowing games open early, letting their starters relax.

The 4-1 lead could have been larger had Lo Duca not made a silly dash for home, getting thrown out to prematurely end another rally. Had he stayed put, David Wright would have been coming to the plate with the bases loaded and the lead could have been more substantial.

Instead, the Mets were forced to squeeze 45 laborious pitches out of Duaner Sanchez in two scoreless innings of work, making the game alot tighter than it should have been in spite of the 9-6 advantage the Brewers had over the Mets in hits. Sanchez continued his scoreless streak for the season with a gaudy 0.00 ERA.

Tom Glavine earned his second victory of the season, 277th of his career with yet another glamourous performance, striking out 11 Brewers, allowing six hits and a single unearned run. He went six innings for the third consecutive start and lowered his ERA to 1.50.

And after a dreary 1 1/2 hour rain delay, it's now nearly 4 in the morning so the Army is shutting it down with a fairly brief yet relieved recap noting that the Mets are out of the gate with a MLB-best 8-1 record.


Mercy Killing

It was a lead not even the hurley gurley Victor Zambrano could out-gyrate.

Yahhhhssss. Victor Zambrano broke the magical 6 inning streak by Met starters. He gave up six hits, walked four batters, gave up three earned runs. He sinned in all these fashions but the Zambranocoaster still walked away with the victory in his first start of the season, typically unpredictable, quasi-coherent, left and right, up and down. Zambrano allowed 10 runs in 9 1/3 innings against the Nats last season. When your team smokes 4 homers and score 6 runs for you in the first three innings, you have to completely derail to blow that kind of momentum.

3 homeruns in the first inning; Beltran's above the luxury seat in right field, Wright and Floyd. The first time since 1999 they hammered out of the gates like Thor. It reminded of the days when Mike Tyson used to bounce into the centre of the ring as soon as the Round 1 bell went off and battered his opponent senseless before anyone had settled into their seats. And then Delgado popping another, worth two runs, to give Zambrano the game.

Other than Zambrano's inaugural start to 2006, Woodward replaced Anderson Hernandez at second base and Ramon Castro took over for Lo Duca. Castro had a double and Woodward drove in three runs in a game overflowing with runs like the fat lady with the six giant steins of Oktoberfest beer, slamming them on your table with zeal.

But before you could get sleepy with counting the runs, Willie finally saw a scenario wherein the lead was too big for even Jorge Julio to lose and the Julio Watch could begin in earnest.

(Exclusive live commentary...)

Dick Coleman says that working him in easier is the key. Hmmmm. 10 run lead. Is that easier for Jorge? Guillen grounds out. Nick Johnson up. Julio's body language tells you when he's in trouble, sagging shoulders....Nick Johnson hits a homerun. Hmmm 10 run lead. Is that easier for Jorge Julio? Awwww. Now I'm yearning for Darren Oliver's 4 ks in 2 innings of flawless relief...Now we should get excited about striking out Zimmerman? The Zimmerman hitting .237? Oh wait, let's let LeCroy, the .222 hitter hit a double. Get the zen? .222 hits a double? What is Jorge thinking right now? One more goddamned outs and I can crawl back into a ball? Damien Jackson, jaysus, this guy should do it. Punch out. Ohhh. Now what? It's only a 9 run lead. Should Billy Wagner be brought in again to eventually earn the save, five heart attacks later?

Well here we are, victory.

There's something unnerving about this start. Oh yes, now I'll squeeze the worry beads and wonder how long this swing of good fate will rise. It's almost getting to the point of giddiness these wins; precise and with verve.

Shall we thank the Nats for their hospitality? Thank you for the three wins, handed over with the resignated sigh of a team that knows it's hope for the season is already up to it's nose in water? Will the Brewers give a more accurate dimension to this surreal beginning? Two straight losses to the Cards but a 5-3 beginning nonetheless?

A chance to see Carlos Lee. Remember the offseason dilemma a year ago about whether to believe his German doctors and whether or not he would come back from major surgery? He's hitting .333 with a massive .455 OBP and three homers thus far. Their pitching is merely adequate without Sheets and their closer, the Freak Brothers-like Derrick Turnbow has 4 saves in 4 chances.

Where is Derrick Turnbow in this image?

Broadcast Commercials

I made comments a few days ago about a few of the ads played on WFAN in between innings and given their frequency, a subliminal bashing of the brains and their subtle effect on my Mets Experience, I thought it appropriate to note a few others that I couldn't escape remembering:

My favourite was for some professional wrestling extravaganza in Manhattan coming soon which held within it the delicious phrase "middle aged and crazy Terry Funk" and I couldn't help but wonder how the hell Terry Funk is still wrestling. It would be like Kenny Stabler, my all-time favourite QB, making a comeback. Terry Funk in Manhattan. What's next, Haystacks Calhoun in Paris? I just can't resist...

Can you imagine Haystacks in the L'Ouvre?

The other commercial was for Foxwoods Resort Casino which began with a bloke singing a song about "sweet gas, sweet gas I love your melody, ka-ching, ka-ching" and frankly, from that point on, I couldn't really focus on how that song related to the resort casino. What was the correlation? The hedonistic insanity of gambling?

7-1, baby. Not bad at all.


...So many things to be happy about today. Four day bank holiday here in the UK, home from work with the Guinness and the Newcastle Brown Ale, Mets on the radio through the magic of the internet, and another victory to add to the pages, 6th in a row, nearing the 8-1 start of the 1985 Mets.) --


And now, for a moment of self promotion, have a look at The Highway Drunk

Mets Just Play Ball And Play It Well

"Just Play Ball..." immortal words from baseball's vice president Bob Watson to the Mets and Nats prior to tonight's game...

After all the talk of the Milagro Beanball Wars, the official talking-to by MLB parents to both teams, fittingly, the game boiled down in essence to Pedro against Jose Guillen, bases loaded, one out with Pedro clinging to a 3-1 lead in the 6th inning.

(Toe? What Toe? Pedro making a watered-down version of the infamous Pedro pitching face as he pitches the Mets to victory...)

And rather than wreaking sweet vengeance upon Pedro, after digging in knowing that with the bases jacked nary a fortuitous HBP was forthcoming, Guillen grounded a 91 mph Pedro fastball into a 6-4-3 double play, killing the Nats aborted rally, snuffing out Nat hopes, propelling the Mets to their 5th victory in a row and 6th in their first 7 games.

It isn't very hard to win five in a row when everything is falling your way. When your starting pitching are suddenly all aces (the Mets have allowed the lowest number of runs in baseball), the heart of the batting order hits like Murderer's Row and you open your season facing the likes of the Nats and Marlins over your first 7 games, well, as Branch Rickey used to say, luck is the residue of design. This is a precision-engineered beginning.

Pedro deservedly won the 199th game of his career last night with 7 innings of well-rewarded precision, retiring the first 10 in a row, allowing mere three hits and a run in the highly anticipated rematch with the Nats following the near-riot after Pedro hit Nat batters three times in his last start. And yes, Pedro was hitless tonight - not a single Nat was scratched by Pedro pitches and further, Pedro failed to get a hit himself in two official at-bats, dropping the starting pitching batting average to .478 although it should be noted he did manage a walk.

The Mets bats continued their torrid streak as the heart of the order, Beltran (.292), Delgado (.357) and David Wright (.444) each had two hits and accounted in some way for all three of the Mets runs: Beltran and Wright scoring a run apiece whilst Beltran and Delgado each driving in a run. Jose Reyes had "only" a hit in 5 at-bats but that doesn't account for his near-beheading of Nats starter Tony Armas Jr in the second inning with two men on that could have been another hit and perhaps another ribby and a pitching scalp for his collection.

As for the bullpen, Heilman earned his 3rd "hold", allowing a hit in one inning and dropping his ERA to 1.80. Billy Wagner continued his streak of failing to put down one flawless closing inning, allowing one hit but no runs to earn gain his 2nd save of the season and coincidentally lowering his ERA to 1.80 as well.

Better news still as the Mets head into an effort to complete the sweep tomorrow against the Nats is that their NL East opponents continue to flounder. The Nats, as we know, have already lost 4 of 5 against the Mets alone and still have a better record than the miserable Marlins who are now 1-6. The Phillies and Braves, which I am listening to now as I type, are both floundering; the Phillies have won a single game all season and the Braves are struggling to stay at .500. (Going into the bottom of the 9th, the Braves are losing, 7-5, heehee, hoho, haha...) If the Braves lose, the Mets will increase their lead in the NL East to a full three game lead, the largest in any division in baseball.

(PS-It's official, Phillies beat Braves, 7-5...)

(PSS-Rumours swirling that the Marlins are about the complete their "housekeeping" by unloading Miguel Cabrera and D Train and further delete the NL East gene pool...)


Tomorrow, the infamous Victor Zambrano will perform a little voodoo on the Mets starting streak by making his first start of 2006 against the Nats and Livan Hernandez.


Nats Bannistered To Another Loss, 7-1

With a 7-1 lead and no hope for a save, Billy Wagner is inexplicably summoned into a non-save situation. He then walks the bases loaded...

Oh, this could have been second guessed for weeks but fortunately for him and the rest of us, Wagner struck out the final batter, helping give Brian Bannister his first career MLB victory.

Now only 133 to go to tie the auld man:

And at this rate, Brian Bannister should have a good chance of eclipsing Floyd some day but the story behind the story, the Mets winning their 5th game of the first 6 given the cynical amoung us in the Mets Collective little room to ponder. Last year at this time the Mets were floundering with the exact opposite record.

Perhaps even better was the ease with which the Mets dispatched the Natty Nats, a divisional rival, for the 3rd time in 4 attempts. Bannister has pitched brilliantly in both of his starts against the Nats, setting down 10 in a row at one point in this game and finishing with only three hits in seven innings of work on the heels of six no-hit innings in his first effort. Bannister became the first Met starter to go seven innings.

But ah, the game...what a way to start their first road trip of the season: Carlos Beltran's monster homerun, Reyes' pair of RBIs, Lo Duca's three hits and perhaps even more exciting, did we mention Brian Bannister getting two hits, including a double?

To date, Mets starters are now hitting .500. Between Glavine, Bannister, Pedro and Trachsel, they've got 6 hits in 12 at-bats, including two runs and two RBIs. What other rotation can match that?


Pet peeve: Manny Acta trying desperately to seal his reputation as one of the worst third base coaches in MLB, tried to wave Carlos Delgado home from first in the 3rd inning following David Wright's double. Fortunately, for those of us who didn't want to see the first rally of the game snuffed out before it began, Delgado "didn't see" Acta's gesticulations and stayed at third instead. He was driven in one batter later by Cliff Floyd's RBI sac fly.

The left side of the Mets infield, namely Reyes and Wright, have now driven in 17 runs between them. The right side of the Mets infield, namely Delgado and Hernandez, have driven in 4.

Anyone bitching about Reyes' OBP now? He's still only walked once this season but wow, if you glance at the Mets stats so far this season, it sure looks like he's got more total bases than anyone else on the team.


A few stupid thing I learned whilst listening to the WFAN broadcast this evening without filtering out the commericals:

1. Severe underarm sweating can allegedly be cured by prescription botox therapy,
2. Nobody sells more homes in the world than ReMax.
3. Chrysler 300 Z allegedly not only gets actresses to look at you, but also earns you promotions at work!

Wow. Who'd have thunk the target market for Mets broadcasts would be severely sweating, house buying losers who might be sold into believing that if they buy Chryslers they get laid by movie stars and are promoted high up the ranks into infinity?

What the fuck kind of car is this anyway?

I was so curious I even googled the term fuckmobile but sadly, nothing with wheels...


Reptilian Grandpappy Blood and Oil Lets the Cannon Loose...

Thinking about Dick Cheney throwing out the opening pitch for the Nats (what better reason to hate the Nats?) I began to think about Ken Macha, naturally. Macha is Cheney's body double.


And in case you forgot what evil incarnate looks like:

Gracias a sports retort.


A well, tomorrow night we can look forward to Pedro v Guillen, Round Deux.


D-Train Halts A Few Stops Too Short

You had to feel a little anxious going into yesterday's game knowing Dontrelle Willis had a 8-1 record with a 1.85 earned run average in 11 starts against the Mets.

D-Train tosses ball in frustration after David Wright's game-tying triple.

Yesterday's start appeared to be humming along on schedule after he'd held the Mets to three hits through six innings and had retired the last 11 Mets in order. But in the 7th, Paul Lo Duca battled Willis through a 10-pitch at-bat -- including five two-strike fouls -- before the former Marlins catcher singled to right and by the time the D-Train had finished the eighth inning, he had thrown 111 and left for a pinch hitter in the ninth.

And that was the end of the Marlins' hopes.

David Wright changed the game in two instances; a sinking liner that sank a little too much and an inside fastball that stayed a little too up. The sinking liner dropped under right fielder Jeremy Hermida's glove for a two-run, seventh-inning triple, and the second drove Marlin outfielder Jeremy Hermida deep to run down his game-winning sacrifice fly in the ninth.

Beltran earns a few hundred of his millions with a game-winning slide home.

Tom Glavine played the unsung hero, keeping the Mets within reach and nearly matching Dontrelle inning for inning of quality pitching before leaving after six innings having allowed only five hits and two runs. His five strikeouts upped his career total to 2,360 and moved him into 39th place on the all-time list, ahead of Robin Roberts. Next up is Charlie Hough (2,362).

Duaner Sanchez relieved Tom Glavine and pitched two shutout innings. Billy Wagner threw a scoreless ninth to pick up his first victory with the Mets.

Jose Reyes committed two errors, letting Miguel Cabrera's grounder kick off his glove in the eighth and delivering a wide throw that pulled Carlos Delgado off the bag in the ninth. Fortunately and perhaps more evidence the Mets are starting the season on a lucky streak, neither error proved fatal.


Next up for the Mets is a trip to DC to face the Nats once again. After last week's body-plunking excitement, both teams were told to cool it.


There was even more good news for the Mets yesterday in addition to the perhaps unforeseen victory over Dontrelle and that was Larry Jones getting his spikes caught in the soggy field and then in a moment of Queen's excstacy, grabbed his right knee as soon as he went to the ground. He rolled around on the field in pain, staying down for several minutes before being helped off. Poor little Larry. Oh yeah, and the Braves lost again.

Oh, the misery! (that it didn't happen at Shea, that is...)


Mets Mawl Marlins, 9-3

Four games, three wins. Four starters, each of them going six innings. Auspicious beginnings for what was considered to be a questionable starting rotation. Everyone exceding expectation but for perhaps Jorge Julio, the new Armandogeddon and Anderson Hernandez who waited four games to get his first hit of the season. And look, two hit batsmen last night and no unsettling behaviour...

Delgado bat in hand, hit by pitch but no steps to the mound.

David Wright takes one for the team, another star hitter getting plunked and yet, where is the controversy? Where is the anger, the foaming mouth indignation? Oh, right. We don't have Jose Guillen on our team.

Although starter Steve Trachsel started the game a bit sluggish allowing the first two hitters on board, he rebounded to keep these stripped down and paint-chipped Marlins scoreless but for former Met Mike Jacob's 4th inning solo homer. Oddly enough, Met starters have allowed more walks(13)than hits(9) over the first four games but odder still these same starters have combined for four hits in 9 at-bats. a .444 clip. If that keeps up they can provide their own run support all season.

More importantly, the Mets continue hitting. Reyes was a triple short of the cycle last night to spearhead a Met attack that has had 28 basehits and 19 runs over the last two games. Granted, all games at Shea and none on the woeful West Coast. (good gawd, you remember those miserable performances in places like Oakland and Seattle last season when the Mets meted out base hits like blood from a stone, don't you?) However, the batting order is proving thus far to be as formidable in real life as it appeared this winter on paper.

Perhaps the most satisfying thought of the season so far is that unlike the Mets of say, 2001, a reliever like Jorge Julio is not going to kill them. So long as Willie keeps him out of games with anything less than a 10 run margin for error. There's been too much goodwill thus far to go Jorge-bashing just yet but we'll be monitoring the situation.

One could try to continue to scuttle Omar's dubious offseason pitching moves but Xavier Nady for Mike Cameron might well be the steal of the offseason (to date anyway) and Duaner Sanchez is looking solid so far. You might note that Jae Seo hasn't started a game for the Dodgers yet, one miserable relief appearance to his credit in which he surrendered a three run homer in three innings work, Cameron is on the DL and Mr Anna Benson lost in his only start of the season so far to the Devil Rays, albeit with a decent 2 run, 4 hit 7 inning outing. (Scott Kazmir by the way? 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA...)

Où se trouve Messieur Sandman? - we haven't seen hide nor hair of our star reliever since he surrendered the game tying homer to the Nats in Game Two.

By the way, in his professional debut, Mike Pelfrey threw 5 shutout innings allowing only 2 hits and striking out 6.


The Phillies continue their horrific beginning this season, echoing the Mets start last season by having lost their first four in a row although it should be noted that the Mets lost theirs on the road whereas the Phillies are humiliating themselves at home with nothing but the road to look forward to.

Other than the Mets and Phillies, the rest of the NL East have started all their seasons on the road thus far including Atlanta's harsh West Coast tour. Actually, you might consider it fortuitous that for the Braves to get a West Coast trip over so early in the season sparing them at least one trip in the latter, dog days of the season. Actually the Mets have a seven game swing San Diego and San Fransisco later this month and then through LA and Arizona in June so there may be no dog day roadtrips of the Western sort for us either.


Tom Glavine takes the hill Saturday against The D Train in what promises to be a thrilling duel.


Sturm und Drang in Petey's Opening

"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.

Jose being restrained: Does this look familiar?

Jose throwing bat in anger: See a Pattern, anyone?

Oh yeah, most certainly.


A night after Guillen's quasi-heroics pulled the game out for the Nats, he was hit twice by a less-than-vintage Pedro, who earned the 198th victory of his career despite allowing five runs, four earned, and four hits on 96 pitches in six innings.

Of course, given The Toe and Pedro's general lack of Spring work, most would be grateful that not only did the Mets manage a 10-5 victory to take 2 of 3 from the Nats, but Pedro emerged unscathed, escaping even Guillen's crazed antics.

Guillen threatened even more after the game, noting "I know how to take care of it, don't worry, I'm going to make sure I play in all the games he's in. ... I want him to throw inside. Now I want him more than ever."

Contrast Madman Guillen with the reserved Nick Johnson who, after getting plunked earlier in the game by Martinez, followed with a three-run homer that tied it at 5.

By contrast,the Nats hit only one batter, but reliever Felix Rodriguez was ejected when he plunked Lo Duca with first base open in the eighth. Washington manager Frank Robinson then got tossed, too. A wild and whoolly night at Shea indeed.

The background orchestra to these theatrics were going boom,boom,boom with Carlos Delgado hitting his second homerun in two nights to give the Mets a 6-5 lead in the 5th.

And Beltran, hitless in his first nine at-bats of the season, crushed a two-run home run against Joey Eischen in the 7th but then had to be coaxed out of the dugout for a Shea standing O, perhaps bitter over the shabby treatment he's received already this season.

"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," Beltran said of the fair-weather friendship some Mets fans appear to have with him.

He pointed out that he appreciated the way Mets fans supported the team even though they fell short of making the playoffs last year.

But, he said, "I do believe they can be better."

Uh oh. Is this singing from the pages of Cliff Floyd's hymnal on hypersensitivity to Shea booing?

In addition to the dingers by Delgado and Beltran, Jose Reyes drove in two runs, scored twice and finished with three hits on the night. David Wright went 3-for-4 with a walk, two runs and an RBI. Cliff Floyd and Lo Duca had two hits apiece and overall, the Mets battered Nat pitching for 15 hits, 5 of which went for extra bases. Even Pedro had an RBI single for gawd's sake.

Even the bullpen improved as Duaner Sanchez and Chad Bradford combined to throw 3 shutout innings and six strikeouts to preserve the victory, giving Jorge Julio and Sandman Wagner the night off.

The Mets outscored the Nats 22-12 over the course of the series.