May 22

Mets Lose A Tough One To The Pirates 5-4

The Mets jumped to an early 4-0 lead with their ace Johan Santana on the mound and pitching pretty good. It was supposed to be a recipe for success, but it ended up being a recipe for disaster instead.

The Mets committed three errors in the game including two by David Wright, but it was the botched fly ball in the eighth inning that led to this latest Mets defeat.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter had both entered the game as pinch-hitters in the top of the eighth and then both remained in the game with Baxter taking over in left field and Kirk in center. They nearly collided in center field chasing after a Neil Walker fly ball which bounced off Nieuwenhuis’ glove for a three-base error and allowed the Pirates to score a 5-4 victory.

Santana allowed four runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out seven over 6 1/3 innings. He didn’t figure into the decision.

The Mets did all their scoring in the second inning with the big hit coming off the bat of Justin Turner who ripped a two-run single with the bases loaded.

David Wright and Ronny Cedeno each had two hits in the game. Vinny Rottino started at first base and picked up a hit before being replaced by Ike Davis who struck out in both his at-bats.

The series continues Tuesday, with R.A. Dickey (5-1, 3.75 ERA) facing off against James McDonald (3-2, 2.68) at 7:05 PM.

The Mets will have to shake this bad loss off and move on.

May 11

Mets Start Johan Santana In Milestone Game

The Mets will play the 8,000th game in their history tonight, starting Johan Santana against Miami.

SANTANA: One of the best.

I know there will be focus on Jose Reyes, but I’m bored with that topic. He’s gone, let’s move on, and move on to a better things, Santana for example.

Santana has been handled with kid gloves following a delicate shoulder surgery few have recovered from. It has taken a lot of hard, and painful, work for him to return, and he’s come back as a force.

Santana doesn’t yet have the outstanding command that made him an elite pitcher, but he’s heading in that direction as his arm gets stronger. Currently, his velocity is good enough to win with because his pitches have movement.

The Mets have spent a lot of money on Santana and will spend a lot more. He’s been a positive influence to others in the rotation, although Oliver Perez grasped the concept.

He’s been a pleasure to deal with and I hope he continues his come back strong.

May 10

Terry Collins Has Changed Culture

Several times this season the Mets answered a winning streak with a losing one. They have won five straight and you wouldn’t be wrong to wonder if the other shoe will drop this weekend in Miami.

Great timing to have Johan Santana start in the opener.

COLLINS: Getting it done.

While you and I might wonder, nobody in the Mets’ clubhouse is thinking along those lines. Terry Collins won’t allow it.

The book on Collins going in was he could get uptight and lose a clubhouse. There’s been nothing to suggest he’s going that way. It does show one can adjust, and even change, over time.

Collins came with little fanfare or declarations. There was no timetable to get the Mets into contention. Instead, he promised to change the culture. His teams are prepared and seldom come out flat, with the Houston debacle an exception.

We’ve seen hustle, better pitching and defense than expected, and a manager who sticks by his players. The Mets are hitting at an extraordinary clip with two outs and lead the majors in comeback victories with 11.

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May 05

Mets Bullpen An Issue

This is why you don’t make declarations during the first week of the season, or for all of April for that matter. The season opened with four straight victories and four strong performances from the bullpen.

After Opening Day, the talking heads as SNY – and that’s not the game broadcasting crew – started pontificating about how the bullpen would be a team strength this season.

Four weeks later, you don’t hear talk like that anymore.

Last night they threw away a strong effort from Dillon Gee. Once again, the focus in on control, as a walk from Tim Byrdak with a man on lead to Arizona’s three-run rally in the eighth inning. Yes, the walk was important, but it was also one batter.

“That’s the thing that sticks out the most,” Collins said. “The base on balls out of the pen have certainly come back to really bite us.”

The bottom is two-fold. One, walks kill and they always have. And two, these guys are major league pitchers and can’t fall apart after one bad at-bat. That’s been a problem with Mike Pelfrey, and it also applies to the bullpen.

Where the pen attacked hitters early, lately they’ve been working deep into counts and losing the at-bat. The pen has been worked hard in recent weeks with the starters not going more than six for the most part and the loss of Pelfrey.

Jon Rauch blew the save and took the loss last night, but wouldn’t blame it on an increased workload. He said it was poor pitching.

“You can’t come in and throw balls and expect to get everybody out after that,” Rauch said. “So we’ve gotta do a better job. I know personally I need to do a better job, especially coming in with guys on base and not letting inherited runners scored.”

Glad to hear there were no excuses, but it would be even better to see improved execution.

Once four games over .500 and sensing optimism about the season, the Mets have lost four straight and are counting on Johan Santana – the pitcher they seemingly refuse to score for- to stop the slide.

Regardless of what happens today, success this season largely depends on the bullpen holding up its end. And, that’s not a premature pronouncement, but a statement of fact that can be made any time of the year.


May 01

New Poll: Mets Player Of Month For April

David Wright’s ability to regain his status as an offensive threat is why I chose him as the Mets’ April Player of the Month.

There are other viable candidates, such as Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Johan Santana. Please vote and tell us your thoughts on the Mets Player of the Month for April.

ON DECK: Is this it for Pelfrey as a Met?