May 18

May 18.10: Chat Room, Game #40 at Braves: Can they score for Johan?

Say what you will about the Mets’ current problems, but at least the team doesn’t quit. That sounds so cliché, but it is true. We’ve seen sloppy play, we’ve seen physical and mental breakdowns, but we haven’t seen a lack of hustle.

No Met has dogged it like the Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez did the other day in Florida. Jason Bay isn’t hitting for power but he busts it every time out of the box. The same can be said for most Mets, and that’s a reflection on the manager.

A manager still has his team when it plays hard for him, and that’s something working for Jerry Manuel.

The Mets snapped their five-game losing streak last night behind Mike Pelfrey and will attempt to win for just the third time in nine games tonight behind Johan Santana against the Braves. Pelfrey gave the Mets 7 2/3 strong innings to become the first starter to win in 16 games.

“Pitching is the key,’’ Manuel said. “If we continue to get this kind of pitching, it at least gives us a chance.’’

Pelfrey pitched big when it counted, limiting the Braves to 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. He had to, because he didn’t get much help, something Santana is familiar with when the comes to facing the Braves.

Santana (3-2, 3.88 ERA this year) is 1-4 with a 2.05 ERA in seven starts against the Braves. He has received two or fewer runs in each of those starts.

Here’s the line-up behind Santana that needs to improve on those numbers:

Jose Reyes, SS
Luis Castillo, 2B
Chris Carter, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Rod Barajas, C
Angel Pagan, CF
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Johan Santana, LP

NOTE: I’ve got class tonight and won’t be back until nine.

May 18

May 18.10: Tonight’s line-up at Braves

Here’s tonight’s Mets’ lineup in Atlanta:

Jose Reyes, SS
Luis Castillo, 2B
Chris Carter, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Rod Barajas, C
Angel Pagan, CF
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Johan Santana, LP

NOTES: Jason Bay gets the night off. Chris Carter is hot so the Mets are riding him. … David Wright is on pace to whiff 212 times. … Jeff Francoeur is still fighting to get out of his slump which started with the 20-game at St. Louis.

May 18

May 18.10: Wilpon demonstrates patience.

After the season, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya would be held accountable, that the standards bar has been raised.

That’s still the case after his impromptu visit to Atlanta yesterday. “I’m not here to fire anybody,’’ Wilpon said, which doesn’t mean he won’t later.

How else can you interpret him saying, “I wouldn’t be here if I was happy,’’ other than putting them on notice?

Neither Manuel nor Minaya have had a great run since the end of last season. I didn’t like how he handled moving Jose Reyes to third, but he was seeking a solution and sometimes the things you try backfire.

As far as the front office goes, we all knew pitching was this team’s weakness and that there was little margin for error. There weren’t many great choices, but what are the options now with Oliver Perez exiled and Jon Niese injured? Say hello to journeyman R.A. Dickey.

The Mets are where they are despite poor starting pitching – save that 9-1 homestand – a creaky bullpen, a listless offense that has David Wright on pace for over 200 strikeouts and Jason Bay on track for only four homers, and, of course, not having Carlos Beltran.

Considering what has gone on, the Mets are fortunate to be one game below .500. Things can, and have, been a lot worse.

Wilpon said at the end of last season he would give Manuel and Minaya a chance to make things right and 40 games is too small of a window. Let’s see where they are at the All-Star break, and if they are within striking distance, let’s see who they bring in.

May 17

May 17.10: Chat Room, Game #39 at Braves: Pelfrey tries to stop slide.

COO Jeff Wilpon and GM Omar Minaya met with manager Jerry Manuel prior to tonight’s game at Atlanta.

“I didn’t come here to fire anybody,” Wilpon said. “If I was going to make a change that quick I would have done something last year.”

According to all parties, the meeting was about how to improve what’s there with the present pieces. However, the whispers of Manuel’s job security will continue until the Mets give them reason to stop, and their play on the road isn’t it, where they are 1-8 in May and 4-12 overall, the latter a NL worst.

The Mets are coming off being swept out of Florida in four games by the Marlins. They’ve also lost five straight and 11 out of 15 games to go from first to worst in the NL East.

“We’ve got to get some things straightened out,” said Manuel, the master of the obvious. “We have to make decisions and find the pieces that can get it done.”

One aspect of the team not getting it done has been the starting pitching, which has gone 15 straight games without a win. Mike Pelfrey, despite his hot start, is now part of the slide. Pelfrey won his first four starts while posting a 0.72 ERA, but has gone 0-1 with a 6.88 ERA in his last three starts.

Pelfrey is coming off a 119-pitch no-decision against Washington in which he went 5 2/3 innings, giving up four runs and seven hits.

With Oliver Perez not getting out of the fourth Friday night – and subsequently dropped from the rotation – and Jon Niese leaving in the third inning yesterday with a right hamstring injury, the Mets bullpen has been severely taxed.

The Mets are expected to dip into the minor leagues for a starter Wednesday in Washington and go with Hisanori Takahashi Friday night against the Yankees at Citi Field.

Here’s tonight’s line-up:

Jose Reyes, SS
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jason Bay, LF
Chris Carter, RF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Rod Barajas, C
Gary Matthews, CF
Mike Pelfrey, RP

NOTEBOOK: Reliever Ryota Igarashi (left hamstring strain) continues his rehab assignment tonight at Class A St. Lucie. Barring a setback, he will pitch back-to-back games for Class AAA Buffalo Thursday and Friday and then be activated. …. Reliever Kiko Calero, who at one time looked like he’d make the major league roster coming out of spring training, was released by Buffalo.

May 17

May 17.10: Wilpon in town; tonight’s lineup.

Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon is in Atlanta meeting with Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya. Wilpon told reporters nothing dramatic is imminent. But, one can assume the leash is getting shorter.

Among the topics on the table is what to do with the rotation, which is minus Oliver Perez and Jon Niese. Hisanori Takahashi is speculated to start Friday against the Yankees, but Perez’s spot Wednesday is open. Veteran knuckleballer RA Dickey has a locker ready for him in Atlanta reports SNY.

The Mets will DL Jon Niese to make room. Also, don’t think it is not possible the Mets could find something wrong with Perez and DL. Afterall, he’s lost up to five mph. off his fastball. Word now is trainer Ray Ramirez is in the meeting.

The wheels are spinning.

Perez has refused to go to the minor leagues which means a productive player will have to be optioned to make room for reliever Ryota Igarashi or another starter.

The Mets open a two-game series tonight with the following line-up:

Jose Reyes, SS
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jason Bay, LF
Chris Carter, RF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Rod Barajas, C
Gary Matthews, CF
Mike Pelfrey, RP

COMMENTS: After scoring eight runs yesterday, the line-up is essentially the same. Since Jason Bay is hitting the ball, although not for homers, he’ll stay in the third slot. … Gary Matthews, who came off the bench yesterday for a couple of hits, starts in center to give Angel Pagan a rest. … Jeff Francoeur sits again.