Apr 19

April 19.10: It’s Davis’ time now.

Tabbed the Mets’ first baseman of the future, that future could be now for Ike Davis, who’ll be brought up from Triple-A Buffalo for tonight’s game against the Chicago Cubs.

While the Mets opted not to take Davis north after Daniel Murphy’s knee injury, several factors conspired into the decision being made now.

Twenty innings Saturday night forced the Mets to bring up a pitcher, Tobi Stoner, to bail out the bullpen, and expendable was the struggling Mike Jacobs, who was designated for assignment.

So, as much as the Mets wanted to avoid force-feeding the majors to Davis, necessity prevailed.
Davis, 23, the son of former Yankees reliever Ron Davis and first-round pick out of Arizona State in 2008, scorched the ball during spring training and hasn’t cooled. Davis is hitting .364 with two homers and four RBI for Buffalo and is riding a seven-game hitting streak.

Initially, I thought Davis needed more Triple-A time, and that might be the case, but as early as it is, there’s a sense of urgency for the Mets and it isn’t assured Davis will struggle at this level. Frankly, he can’t do much worse than what the Mets had been getting at first base.

While there is talk the Mets are rushing Davis, it must be remembered there is no guarantee he’ll be overwhelmed, just as there are no givens he’ll flourish like David Wright, who was promoted after only 114 Triple-A at-bats in 2004.

“When it’s time for him to come up, he just needs to remember to come in and do what he’s done his whole career,’’ Wright told ESPN.com. “I know there are expectations. I know there is going to be a lot of pressure. But he seems like he’s a tremendous player, a great guy, and will do well at this level.’’

With Murphy down, the Mets hoped to fill the position until his return with the platoon of Jacobs and Fernando Tatis. (Frank Catalanotto started at first last night).

“We just felt that we didn’t quite see what we wanted to see in that brief opportunity he was given,’’ manager Jerry Manuel said.

It was obvious Davis would be elevated when the Mets designated Jacobs for assignment rather than option him outright to the minors. In doing so, they cleared a spot on the 40-man roster for Jacobs.

POLL: Too early or deserved? Vote in the Davis poll.

Apr 19

April 19.10: About Last Night: Maine will get another start.

GM Omar Minaya said he’d take one out of three in St. Louis. He got it, but is anybody really happy? They could have won all three with a little bit of hitting. Then again, they could have been swept, too.

John Maine was better last night, but the qualifier is he was better in comparison to his previous two rotten starts. Adam Wainwright pitched a complete game last night with 107 pitches. Maine was lucky to get through five with the 115 he threw.

Maine worked out of trouble in each of the first four innings, which showed some improvement, but gave up a three-run homer to Colby Rasmus in the fifth. How often does a manager pull a pitcher winning 3-0 after four scoreless innings?

If he had to do it all over again, that might have been the way for Jerry Manuel to go last night.

While Maine on a whole was a disappointment again, he showed enough to where he’ll get the ball again. He threw his fastball more, and the more he throws it the harder it will become. He’s still throwing it in the low 90s with little movement. It should get better.

The one thing the Mets have to take out of their 2-4 road trip to Colorado and St. Louis was a definite improvement in the rotation collectively. What they got received from their five they’ll take every time.

Of course, they’ll still come away 2-4 at best because they offense is non-existent, especially with runners in scoring position, hitting .155 on the trip.

Moving Jose Reyes to the three hole isn’t the answer, because he’s not getting on base anyway. Nobody is hitting, including now Jeff Francoeur, whose 10-game hitting streak has fallen into an 0-for-9 slide.

Jason Bay? Well, he’s still on the team, but you’d never know it by his production.

“I’m living what they are watching,” Bay said in St. Louis last night. “It’s just one of those things you go through… I’m just going through a slump.”

Although Bay struck out four times Saturday, he did scorch a line drive that was robbed of a hit late in the game. Given he finally made contact, I thought he would have played last night.

A lot of pressure will be put on Ike Davis when he arrives, presumably tomorrow, as he was in the starting line-up today in Buffalo.

I’m encouraged by the pitching on the trip, but also tempered because it is one time through the rotation. We’ll see what we get from Jon Niese tonight against the Cubs.

Apr 18

April 18.10: Chat Room, Game #12 at Cardinals: Pressure on Maine.

The pressure never ends.

As much as last night’s epic 20-inning victory – anything 20 innings plus is epic – has been written and mentioned as being a catalyst to turn around this sluggish season, it means nothing unless the Mets can sustain.

That means John Maine must step up, perhaps unlike at any other time during his career with the Mets, and pitch big tonight against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Mets exhausted their bullpen last night for 13 innings, and despite pitching one inning, Francisco Rodriguez was spent after throwing 100 pitches in an up-and-down evening warming in the pen.

If a starter won’t throw the next day after throwing 100 pitches, the same could be for Rodriguez tonight.

Maine, who seems to hyperventilate around the third or fourth inning, needs at least six, better seven innings tonight. He needs it for a lot of reasons, including to silence the Dillon Gee whispers.

You see, Maine isn’t pitching tonight to save the bullpen as much as he is his spot in the rotation. While it is likely Maine, barring a disaster, will get another start after this, manager Jerry Manuel has done nothing to dispel the speculation.

Aware of ramifications of a third hammering, Maine went to the videotape to look at his mechanics and pitch selection from 2007, when he won 15 games. Fundamentally, Maine concluded if he’s going down it would be with his fastball, which has atrophied after falling in love with his off-speed and breaking balls.

“I’m fine, my shoulder is fine,’’ Maine said after the Colorado debacle. “ I know the No. 1 priority is to get back and throw my fastball. That’s what I’m going to do in my bullpen. That’s what I’m going to do in my next start I’m going to get back to where I was.’’

Maine looked at everything from wind-up to delivery to release point and said he’s going back to his 2007 delivery and with it, hopefully that year’s fastball. Where Maine once touched the radar gun at 94 mph, he topped out at 91 in his last start, Tuesday night’s meltdown in Colorado.

“I’m just going to go back to that delivery, going back to throwing the fastball,’’ Maine said. “Hopefully it turns out fine. I may get hit, but, you know, at least I know I’m going out there, getting beat with my best pitch and not my second and third pitch.’’

Maine, 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA, has given up 12 runs in eight innings in his two starts, including eight runs in three innings at Colorado Tuesday.

“It’s hard. I’m doing my stuff in between starts,” Maine said. “I’m doing the right things. I just can’t put it together. … This is awful right now.”

****

Tonight’s line-up for the Mets (4-7):

Jose Reyes, SS
Alex Cora, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Frank Catalanotto, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Gary Matthews, CF
Rod Barajas, C
Angel Pagan, LF
John Maine, RP

NOTES: Mike Jacobs was designated for assignment to make room for reliever Tobi Stoner, who was brought up to bolster their depleted bullpen. It’s obvious the Mets won’t go with a Fernando Tatis-Catalanotto platoon, so expect Ike Davis to be promoted. By designating Jacobs for assignment, the Mets open a spot on their 40-man roster.

Apr 18

April 18.10: About Last Night: Will it spur the Mets?

Not all games are created equal, either in consequence or drama. Yesterday’s 6:53, 20-inning endurance test sent Jose Reyes’ spikes and bat to the Hall of Fame, an indication of something special.

There are dozens and dozens of numbers spawning from this game, and an equal number of snap shot memories, beginning with Alex Cora’s sprawling catch into the stands to rob Matt Holliday (pictured).

Take away that catch, and maybe you take away 10 innings of history.

They will be talking about last night for years, but what remains uncertain is how the victory will play out this season for the struggling Mets.

The attributes of grit and resiliency, patience and perseverance, hustle and clutch, all surfaced last night – for both teams – and for the Mets they had been qualities lacking.

“This game] was big for us…We needed to win this game,” Jerry Manuel said. “They were fighting all day to stay in the game. Hopefully, that’s a sign of things to come for us…We were able to hang around, hang around, hang around…Lay on the ropes for about nine innings and then waited for all the other guys to get out of the game.”

It’s an oversimplification to suggest the Mets have turned around their season, but it is not a reach to say last night might be the spark they needed.

When the Mets were in Colorado they took in the Nuggets came. It was to be a bonding exercise. They promptly lost two of three to the Rockies. It’s impossible for a team to bond more than in a game like last night.

The starter, Johan Santana, pitched seven brilliant innings, and 13 innings later was on the bench in uniform wearing a rally cap. Every Met, save Oliver Perez, played and contributed something. Perez, in fact, was ready to pinch hit.

The bullpen gave up one run in 13 innings, but despite all the walks issued it continually refused to yield. Three times in extra innings the Cardinals left the bases loaded.

The offense didn’t get its first hit until the sixth inning, and consisted of strikeout after strikeout from David Wright and Jason Bay, until Jeff Francoeur and Jose Reyes delivered sacrifice flies.

The Cardinals had a half-dozen chances to win, but the Mets found a way to deny them until like a child confronted with a math problem, figured out a way.

It remains to be seen whether the Mets found an answer they can build on, but the opportunity is there.

Apr 17

April 17.10: Chat Room, Game # 11 at Cardinals: Santana tries to stop slide.

OK, the Mets lost last night in a game they could have won. In the grand scheme of things, it’s still a loss, but as the game progressed there was a different feeling than most times this young season. That’s because Oliver Perez was pitching well, giving the Mets two strong-pitched games in a row.

There’s a different feel defensively when a team gets a well-pitched game, and the Mets were indeed crisp in the field.

Today it’s Johan Santana, who always gives the Mets a chance to win, even when the offense takes a pass as it has most games already this season.

It’s the same story with the Mets offense, which is to say they aren’t hitting with runners in scoring position. Chris Carpenter pitched a good game last night, but still the Mets had a chance to put the game away before it was turned over to the bullpen.

The Mets are on national TV this afternoon. I hope you tune in and also drop by here with your thoughts.

Thanks.