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20 August 2008

They're back—sort of

As discouraged as I was in my last post, I kind of knew as a Met fan that this would happen; although I still was aware of the fact that the Mets always play to the level of the poorer teams, particularly this season.
John Maine returned last week on Wednesday, pitching 5 innings of shutout baseball, allowing only one hit to go along with 6 strikeouts and 4 walks.
In his start Monday afternoon, he gave us Met fans a sense of stability once again as he was effective in his second start since coming off of the DL. This time around, he went 5 innings for a consecutive time and allowed 2 hits with 3 strikeouts and a walk. He left the game with the Metropolitans leading 2-0 before that notorious bullpen threw it away. What a surprise right?
In any event, it’s good to see the team have their regular starters in tact. In the six-game winning streak, that of course ended yesterday, the Mets' starters went a combined 6-0 and allowed only 7 runs in 41.2 innings of work. Johan Santana also pitched brilliantly on Sunday in going the distance for the complete game shutout.
Hitting-wise, the Mets are getting by as they should be. They played the worst team in baseball in the Washington Nationals and a Pittsburgh Pirates team that is 13 games under .500. They averaged 5.7 runs a game in those two series respectively. Again good numbers, but they should be that way.
A thought of concern for Mets fans is Billy Wagner. Like I have said, this closer-by-committee thing is irking me. It never works anyway, and these guys aren’t even coming close to making it happen. In any event, Wagner was supposed to be activated yesterday, but apparently, he still isn’t ready after not feeling 100 percent after a bullpen toss on Saturday. The Mets brass has also not been specific as to when he will return making me even more concerned.
On the trade front, the Mets acquired right-handed reliever Luis Ayala from the Washington Nationals in exchange for minor league shortstop Anderson Hernandez. Ayala has the most losses for a reliever this season (ironically Aaron Heilman has the second most) and has a 5.77 ERA. If pitching coach Danny Warthen can restore his confidence, this is nothing more than a stopgap solution for the ever-problematic bullpen. Hernandez was a decent fielder, but he couldn’t hit if he had a million bucks in a briefcase dangling in front of him.
I’ll conclude with a little schedule talk. The Braves come into Shea with their beleaguered rotation that has lost the likes of John Smoltz, Tim Hudson, and Tom Glavine to major injuries and Mets' fans will get a first-hand glimpse of that below-average rotation starting tonight. Jo-Jo Reyes (3-9 5.33 ERA) faces Oliver Perez (9-7 3.91 ERA) today, followed by Jair Jurrjens (11-8 3.15 ERA) against Mike Pelfrey (11-8 3.91 ERA), and Mike Hampton (2-1 6.92 ERA) battles Pedro Martinez (4-3 4.96 ERA) in the finale.
The Houston Astros will follow Atlanta in a four-game set as the Mets certainly will have revenge on their minds after getting swept in three at Houston a couple of weeks ago.
It appears to be an easy road for the Mets this week, but in New York sports there are never any guarantees, especially with this squad.
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