Apr 27

April 27.10: Chat Room, Games #20-21 vs. Dodgers: Let’s Play Two.

At one time the Mets were 4-8 and there were rumblings manager Jerry Manuel’s job might be in jeopardy. However, behind stellar pitching the Mets have turned it around.

During their four-game winning streak, the Mets’ staff has a 1.41 ERA, but a .239 average and only one homer. In a larger window, the ERA is 1.39 ERA from the starters in their last two turns through the rotation.

The Mets will start Johan Santana (2-1, 2.59 ERA) and Oliver Perez (0-2, 3.71) in today’s doubleheader against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Neither has been the recipient of substantial run support.

Santana has given up one run and 12 hits with 14 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings to help the Mets win his last two starts. He’s gotten only four runs in his last three outings.

Perez has been given five runs in his three losses.
To be fair, Perez was not effective in his last start, throwing 97 pitches in five innings while giving up three runs.

Offensively, the Mets have won three straight since dropping Jose Reyes to third in the order, which coincidentally is about the time Jason Bay has started to warm up.

Still cold, however, is David Wright, who is batting .154 with four RBI over the last eight games. Like Perez, Wright has a degree of success against the Dodgers with a .425 average, four homers and 35 RBI in 39 meetings.

Wright will bat fifth behind Bay today. There are only two changes in the lineup from last night: Gary Matthews replaces Jeff Francoeur in right and Rod Barajas returns behind the plate.

Here’s the order for the 10-9 Mets:

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Gary Matthews, RF
Rod Barajas, C
Johan Santana, LP

NOTE: I will be with you for most of the day. I need to leave around six for my class and be back by around nine.

Apr 27

April 27.10: Wright continues to struggle.

David Wright said this is a slump, that nothing is wrong with him and he’ll snap out of it.

“We’re 10-9,’’ Wright told reporters. “We’re winning right now. There’s no reason to panic. … I’m seeing the ball pretty well. I’m taking some good swings. But, you could do everything right and not get the results you wanted. I feel comfortable at the plate. I’ll see some results.’’

Then again, Wright said the same thing last year about his power drought. However, a difference between last year and this is he hit .300 last year and currently is batting .222.

Wright also struck out a lot, which he’s doing again this spring. He takes a stretch of striking out in 12 straight games into today’s doubleheader against the Dodgers. He has 24 strikeouts in 19 games.

Wright said he feels comfortable, but just isn’t getting the results he wants.

“There’s no to hit the panic button this early,’’ Wright said. “This isn’t the first time I’ve struggled in my career.’’

For now, Jerry Manuel has no plans to sit Wright and will let him work himself out of it. Then again, that could change in the second game of the doubleheader against knuckleballer Charlie Haeger.

NOTEBOOK: Manuel plans to keep Jose Reyes in the third spot in the order. … Gary Matthews was in the line-up last night and is expected to play in one of the games today. … The anticipated rotation for Philadelphia is Jon Niese, Mike Pelfrey and Johan Santana.

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 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