Apr 10

April 10.10: About Last Night; Pelfrey makes stride.

Pitching plus power have always been baseball’s greatest winning equation and the Mets finally got it last night with a solid start from Mike Pelfrey and four homers.

The Mets have questions with their rotation after Johan Santana, and the Mets have gotten three solid starts in their first four games.

Pelfrey had his rough spots, but with the exception of one inning he overcame them. Last night, working under cold and windy conditions, Pelfrey showed marked improvement. He continually threw first-pitch strikes.

Pelfrey gave up two runs in six innings, an effort he can build on. The bullpen pitched well for the second straight game. It looks as if Fernando Nieve appears to have gotten the first crack at being the eighth-inning set-up man.

Pelfrey was aided by his defense, especially Alex Cora, who made two scintillating plays, one of which saved a run. The offense was four homers – two each by Jeff Francoeur and Rod Barajas – and amazingly enough, a couple of hits with runners in scoring position.

Apr 09

April 9.10: Chat Room, Game #4 vs. Nationals, Pelfrey’s turn.

Indicators vary, and Jerry Manuel is calling it roughly three weeks to define the good start he said the Mets need out of the gate. Losing two of three to the Marlins is too small of a window.

“Let’s see where we are over the first 20 games,” Manuel said. “That will give us a better indicator if we are off and running or whatever.”

The Mets are counting on Mike Pelfrey to pick up the Mets tonight against the Washington Nationals. That is, of course, if Pelfrey can pick up himself after working with a sports psychologist.

Pelfrey spoke recently about the mental make-up required to pitch in the major leagues, saying most everybody are equal in terms of physical talent, but the difference is the head game.

“At this level, I think every pitcher is pretty gifted,’’ Pelfrey said. “What separates guys is the mental part of the game.’’

Pelfrey’s problem has been losing focus and not mastering his secondary pitches. Pelfrey has tendency to not finish off hitters and consequently doesn’t minimize the damage and lets innings get away from him.

Apr 09

April 9.10: Notes and lineup; Jacobs moved out of clean-up.

Jose Reyes is in Citi Field. He will work out and is scheduled to be activated from the disabled list for tomorrow’s game against Washington. Ruben Tejada will be optioned to make room.

Luis Castillo tweaked his calf last night and won’t play tonight. Alex Cora will replace him at second base. Tejada won’t play second because the Mets want him to be comfortable at one position.

Jerry Manuel moved Mike Jacobs out of the clean-up slot, batting him fifth between Jason Bay and Jeff Francoeur.

Here’s tonight’s lineup for the Mets (1-2):

Angel Pagan, CF
Alex Cora, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Jason Bay, LF
Mike Jacobs, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
Ruben Tejada, SS
Mike Pelfrey, RP

Apr 09

April 9.10: Mike Pelfrey stopper?

Mike Pelfrey stopper? That will be the scenario tonight when the sluggish out-of-the-gate Mets give the ball to the struggling Pelfrey at Citi Field.

After taking a positive step in 2008 when he went 13-11 with a 3.72 ERA, the No. 2 starter Pelfrey took two steps back last season.

Pelfrey went 4-0 with a 4.89 ERA in his first six starts last season, but didn’t win consecutive games in his next 25 starts. He barely won period, going 6-12 with a 5.06 ERA.

“I had a really, really bad year — not what you look for from a No. 2 starter,’’ Pelfrey said. “But I’m better for it now. It was tough struggling every fifth day. But now I feel good, I feel comfortable. I know I’m prepared to have the kind of season they expect from me.’’

If Pelfrey doesn’t turn it around this season the Mets will have to take a serious look at his future with the team. Is he somebody who just won’t make it, or should they get what they can for him.

Pelfrey’s primary problem is he loses focus and often has a difficult time putting away hitters and minimizing the damage in an inning. He’ll lose his command and get up in the zone making him vulnerable to the home run.

He’s not off to a good start this year having been dropped from second to fourth in the rotation after a 0-4 start with a 6.15 ERA in spring training.

The Nationals aren’t exactly cake for Pelfrey. He’s 3-5 with a 3.93 ERA in 12 starts against Washington.

The Nationals are one of the few teams the Mets have had recent success against, winning nine of their last 11 home games, including 7-2 last season.

If you haven’t already, vote in the current poll.

Apr 09

April 9.10: About Last Night; Niese shows up; offense doesn’t.

Losing two of three to the Florida Marlins, including 3-1 last night, isn’t the fast start manager Jerry Manuel envisioned. The upsetting thing is they could have swept this series with several more hits.

There was one positive to take out of the game, and that’s Jonathan Niese, who gave up three runs in six innings. Niese pitched with composure and efficiency for the most part, something they didn’t get the night before from John Maine. Something to look out for is the Marlins did some first-ball hitting because Niese often started out with fastballs.

Offensively, the Mets picked up where they left off the previous night, not to mention 2009. They left two runners on in the second and fourth innings when they could have made a dent into the game. Just three extra-base hits in their past two games.

When you’re not going to pitch consistently, you need to score. And, you can’t afford to waste good outings when you get them. The Mets were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring positions and left seven, and over the past two games have gone 0-for-10 while leaving 16. Not the ingredients of a fast start.

Tonight against Washington, it will be Mike Pelfrey vs. Garrett Mock.