Apr 26

April 26.10: Not your old Mike Pelfrey.

As the pitches mounted, and they did rather quickly last night, it was tempting to think, “well, he’s back to being the old Mike Pelfrey.”

The pitches added up to base runners – ten in all – but, other than the angst, not much else. Something strange happened: Pelfrey got a pop up to end one inning; double plays to end two more; and a couple of strikeouts also bailed him.

While one never wants your pitcher to get in trouble, the telling sign is the ability to escape and that’s what Pelfrey did last night. He didn’t just minimize damage, he avoided it all together. That’s something he didn’t do last season, or in spring training of this year for that matter.

Pelfrey is getting outs on his splitter, a secondary pitch he has been working on. There will be times this year when the pitch might flatten, but for now it is working and it is exciting to see his development.

Pelfrey has been on hot streaks before, but this one has a different feel. This one comes with the sense of maturity and progression to the next step. This one has the sense of his development into a pitcher, leaving the thrower behind.

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The Mets did a solid yesterday when they invited fans to move into whatever seats they wished. OK, you got to stay in them for a few innings, but still the gesture was nice. Also, the Mets announced anybody with yesterday’s game can exchange them for complimentary tickets to a game during the San Diego and Detroit series in June.

For more information, call 718.507.TIXX

Lousy weather all day today in Queens, but tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers is still on.

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Before we get all get carried away with Ike Davis, just think back to last night and how Tommy Hanson’s fall-off-the-table made him look foolish. Other pitchers will take notice and until Davis proves he can consistently hit the breaking ball, that’s all he’ll face.

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Apr 25

April 25.10: Chat Room, Game #19 vs. Braves: Pelfrey trying to stay perfect.

Mike Pelfrey might finally be getting it. An uncashed checked so far in his career, Pelfrey is pitching with a sense of confidence and purpose early this season.

Hammered in spring training – Pelfrey said he wasn’t worried because he was working on things – the right-hander has been dominant in April and takes a string of 19 scoreless inning into tonight’s game against the Atlanta Braves.

Pelfrey (3-0, 0.86 ERA) is coming off a strong victory over the Chicago Cubs Tuesday in which he gave up three hits in seven scoreless innings.

“He has great rhythm,’’ said manager Jerry Manuel. “There’s a better presence. He’s staying on top of the mound. He’s ready before the hitter is ready. I think he’s that confident and that in control that he could say, `I’m ready to go and I already know what the sequence is.’ ’’

However, his career numbers haven’t been good against the Braves, going 2-5 with a 6.09 ERA nine starts.

Assuming the game isn’t rained out, he could have a pitcher’s duel with the Braves’ Tommy Hanson.

The Mets are going for the sweep and second straight series win.

“When you win a couple series, you start feeling good about yourself,’’ David Wright said. “You go out there expecting to win.’’

Pitching has been the key. The Mets have allowed two or fewer runs five times in the last six games, and has a 2.09 ERA over the last eight.

Apr 25

April 25.10: Is Bay warming up a coincidence?

Jason Bay is starting to warm up, but it is premature to say the line-up switch lit the fire. Dropping Jose Reyes from leadoff to third is, in theory, supposed to provide Bay with more fastballs.

After a RBI triple Friday and three hits yesterday, Bay said: “It’s really only relevant if Reyes is on first or second,’’ Bay said. “I haven’t noticed a huge difference. I think it coincides with me feeling lot better.’’

Bay is too good a hitter for results to not eventually show. Bay said he’s not there, yet, but does feel more relaxed at the plate.

“A few hits I’ve gotten and at-bats I’ve taken, I feel a lot more comfortable and it’s starting to show,’’ said Bay, who has struck out 23 times, but none since the switch.

Bay is right, to fully see the merits of the switch we have to have multiple situations of Bay up with Reyes in steal situations. The one time we had that, Reyes stole second and went to third on a wild throw.

For Jerry Manuel’s switch to work, we need a broader sampling of at-bats.

Apr 24

April 24.10: Chat Room, Game #18 vs. Braves: Looking at .500.

Beautiful day a Citi Field. Sunny with a slight chilly bite in the air. No surprises, the Mets will attempt to reach .500 for the first time in over two weeks with a win this afternoon behind Jon Niese and their new-and-improved line-up.

Jose Reyes insists he doesn’t mind hitting third – I told him Babe Ruth hit third – and he’ll be there again today. There are changes at second and behind the plate, but everything else is the same.

Mets Line-up (8-9)

Angel Pagan, CF
Alex Cora, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Henry Blanco, C
Jon Niese, LP

MAINE UPDATE: John Maine has spasms in his left elbow which he hopes won’t keep him from missing his next start. He admits to being frustrated, saying, “it kind of hard wrapping my head around this.” … Maine experienced something similar a few years ago in Philadelphia, but nothing this season.

Apr 23

April 23.10: Chat Room, Game #17 vs. Braves: Reyes hitting third.

I am not a second guesser and won’t start tonight. So let me go on record now – and again – before the game to denounce the move of Jose Reyes to the third spot in the order.

It will be the first time since 2005 Reyes will bat anywhere other than leadoff.

I don’t care if Reyes gets on four times tonight, I believe in the long term this move will inevitably backfire because eventually it will force the speedy shortstop outside his game.

Reyes, arguably the game’s premier leadoff hitter, is being asked to take his skills to the third slot under the guise of getting more fastballs for the struggling Jason Bay.

You see, explains Manuel, Bay’s problems stem from not getting enough fastballs, and putting a base stealer ahead of him theoretically will get those fastballs. Just out of curiosity, who was the great base stealer ahead of him in Boston? Was it David Ortiz?

For years, the Mets have been telling anybody who would listen Reyes is their offensive catalyst, that him at the top of the order is what gets the team going. So, naturally, when Reyes is just starting to feel comfortable they move him to a position with the high potential of inducing bad plate habits.

However, Reyes insists he’s not going to do all the things when one plays outside himself after being moved to a run-producing slot in the order. There will be no poor pitch selection, no trying to loft the ball and pull, no trying to hit home runs.

Throughout his career Reyes has fallen into these habits after hitting a home run or two. Willie Randolph used to cringe whenever Reyes homered.

“I’m going to be me,’’ Reyes insists. “I’m going to take it like I’m going to be leadoff. He explained it to me. I said, `I don’t have a problem Jerry.’ ’’

Easier said than done. When thrust into an unfamiliar role it is human nature to want to live up to the dynamics of that role. The No. 3 hitter is supposed to be your best hitter, one with the combination of average and power. It is not a speed position.

For the Mets, that player is a healthy Carlos Beltran, and in his absence, David Wright.

But we’re going to get Reyes, who even under ideal circumstances sometimes swings too long.

It will be very easy to fall into bad habits in this role.

A less dramatic solution would be to move Bay out of the clean-up slot, perhaps to No. 2, or maybe temporarily sixth. Instead of moving the player with the problem, the Mets’ solution is to juggle the entire line-up. Not only will Reyes move, but also Wright, Jeff Francoeur and Angel Pagan.

There are other options, but none would fill the leadoff slot as well as Reyes. So, in essence the Mets are weakening two slots in the batting order with this gamble.

The Mets’ offense hasn’t been doing well, but the team had won three of its last four games. Most of the Mets’ problems when they lose have been pitching related.

If John Maine spits the bit tonight, it probably won’t matter what Reyes and Bay do.

Nobody with the Mets – not just Bay – failed to hit against the Cardinals. So, why didn’t Manuel do this then? Oh yeah, because Reyes said he was uncomfortable in that role.

Here’s tonight’s line-up for the Mets:

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
John Maine, RP