Jul 11

Mets Chat Room; It’s Ace Time.

Game #88 vs. Braves.

This is what aces do, they lift a struggling team on top of their shoulders and carry them when times are dark and heavy.

The Mets conclude a surprising first half with a disappointing close this afternoon against the Atlanta Braves. The weekend began with the Mets three-games out of first. They now stand five games out fighting to keep from falling six back by the break.

After a rough stretch Santana back to pitching the shutdown way aces are supposed to and the way the Mets have always expected, with tenacity, guile and grit. Santana, a victim of poor run support for much of the first half, could have perhaps a dozen wins with any kind of offensive and bullpen help.

With the Mets’ sputtering this week, and scoring only two runs in this series, Santana can pretty much expect to do most of the heavy lifting today – as he usually does.

Jun 30

Mets Chat Room; Pelfrey hopes to stop sweep.

Game #78 vs. Marlins

The Florida Marlins are not a team Mike Pelfrey (10-2, 2.71) enjoys facing, but then again, this is a different Pelfrey.

Pelfrey beat the Marlins in his major league debut, July 8, 2006, but has gone 0-6 with a 5.82 ERA in nine starts since.

He has not faced Florida this season.

But, this year we’ve seen a different Pelfrey, who is 6-1 with a 2.38 ERA in his last eight starts, including beating Minnesota last Friday.

“I wouldn’t way it’s beyond where I thought I could be,’’ Pelfrey said of his hot first half. “It’s a good start.’’

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Jun 14

Friend: Oswalt would OK deal to Mets.

Just because Roy Oswalt told a friend he would accept a trade to the Mets doesn’t mean he’s in Manhattan on the off-day looking at apartments.

OSWALT: Won't come cheap.

Depending on what “friend’’ you talk to, Oswalt said he’d also accept trades to Philadelphia, St. Louis, the Yankees, Texas and Washington Nationals. However, if it means getting out of Houston, a chance at the playoffs and perhaps an extension, the list of places suddenly favorable to Oswalt could grow.

The Mets have been getting sterling pitching from rotation fill-ins RA Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi – together they are 9-2, but Takahashi is only 2-1 as a starter – but that’s not to say all their pitching concerns have been answered.

We don’t know how long this run will last as neither Dickey nor Takahashi are proven over the long haul. We don’t know that about Jon Niese, either, and John Maine continues to throw 88.

If the Mets are to get Oswalt, they should strike now while it is early. The closer to the deadline, the more the Astros will be asking.

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May 30

Mets Chat Room: Avoiding the sweep edition plus other questions.

GAME #51 at Brewers

Can you believe it?

After starting the week in scintillating fashion with a three-game shutout sweep of the Phillies, the Mets are in danger today of being swept by the Milwaukee Brewers.

Here’s something to mull over: The Brewers had won only six home games this season, and could have half that with a victory today.

It has been a disappointing first two games, with Jerry Manuel pulling Johan Santana after eight scoreless innings Friday and Fernando Nieve spitting the bit yesterday, turning his start into nothing more than a long relief appearance.

It was infuriating to learn Manuel didn’t consult Santana on how he was feeling before yanking him. What a disrespectful thing to do to the ace of your staff.

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Apr 30

April 30.10: On to Philly.

The Mets didn’t win anything on their recent homestand and they won’t win anything this weekend in Philadelphia.

Neither will the Phillies.

The most important thing coming out of the homestand, and this weekend’s series, is it has made the Mets’ season relevant again. It might have started with the promotion of Ike Davis and ended with perhaps the best 10-game regular season stretch in franchise history, but in between we saw the Mets play alert, aggressive baseball.

We saw the Mets play as they promised us they would. We saw them play as if they wanted our attention.

And, they deserved it.

What I am looking forward to in this series are three games of intense baseball, of a rivalry where the competitive juices are flowing.

After all the promoting it as such, it finally is a rivalry worth paying attention to again. Each one of the games has a special nugget of intrigue.

Tonight is about Jon Niese and how the young pitcher will respond to the pressure of a high profile game. Niese giving the Mets six strong tonight will go a long way toward answering some of their pitching questions. It would also prevent an emotional let down.

After a week-and-a-half of being on an emotional high, tonight is about sustaining. The last thing we want to see is for Niese to get hammered and to lose that good feeling.

Tomorrow, and this is the game I really want to see, is Mike Pelfrey against Roy Halladay. In a season full of tests for Pelfrey, this is another one. Aren’t you curious about seeing him go against an ace?

Sunday it is the stopper, Johan Santana, who would be pitching to either stave off a disappointment or continue the ride. It will be as important a game as you can have in May, and you want your best.

The Mets went 9-1 because they played to their capabilities, but also because they did not try to exceed them. They played within themselves and didn’t try to do something they weren’t capable of doing.

They need that same, level approach this weekend, and if they get it, then it could be the start of a wonderful summer.