May 12

Stop it before it starts

The Mets have always been a streaky bunch. Hot, then cold. You knew the winning streak would end eventually, but didn’t think it would come in a game started by Johan Santana.

It’s not surprising he lost, but what is disturbing is the manner in which the Mets lost. They won by playing aggressive, crisp baseball, but last night were sloppy. Five unearned runs is inexcusable.

It’s easy to say it was only one game, but games like that can lead into bad habits. The Mets need a good start tonight from Mike Pelfrey, because, quite frankly, I don’t know if Jon Niese has two in a row. Then they have a murderous trip with four games against the Giants, three at the Dodgers and three at Fenway.

Winning is tough enough as it is and if the Mets start playing sloppy ball then this could be a very difficult stretch.

May 11

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #31; in support on Johan.

CHAT ROOM

CHAT ROOM

Johan Santana is pitching tonight for the Mets against Atlanta, and if the trend continues he’ll get two runs and win. The Mets, going for their eighth straight victory, just can’t score for Santana, giving him a dozen runs in his six starts.

Why can’t the Mets score for Santana? It’s as if they think “all we need is a couple because they won’t score against him.” Not a good mindset to have.

The Mets are on a good roll, but they have to maintain. They can’t afford to let up, especially against the Braves, who have a way of putting the Mets in their place.

May 11

Notice how we haven’t heard the word “edge” lately.

No, not for a minute do I believe the Mets’ winning streak is tied to GM Omar Minaya’s comments about some of his players lacking a certain “edge” to them.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last game the Mets lost was one started by Oliver Perez that Saturday afternoon in Philly. The Mets came back to make a game of it before losing on a bases loaded walk from Sean Green.

From then on, they’ve played the way they said all along they were capable of.

Why?

The Mets are 12-3 when they get a quality start, which by definition – three runs in six innings – is kind of mediocre when you stop to think about it. Mets starters are 6-0 with a 2.44 ERA in their last seven starts.

When a team pitches well, and that should continue tonight with Johan Santana, then everything else falls into place. There’s less pressure on the offense and less strain on the bullpen. Games are crisper, smoother and played with a certain – what’s the word I’m searching for? – edge if you will.

The Mets are playing aggressive, alert baseball, and there are no worries about heart or calls for leadership.

Once the pitching goes in the tank again, and there will be a stretch when things don’t click again, we’ll hear about “edge” and grit and leadership.

May 08

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #28; trap series against Bucs.

CHAT ROOM

CHAT ROOM

We’ve seen it all too often, the Mets rise up in a big series and then stumble against teams they should beat. Hey, that is the essence of the collapses of the last two years.

The Mets have won four straight, beating the sweeping a pair of two-game series against the Braves and Phillies. The Pirates are in for three this weekend before Atlanta comes to town next week.

The Pirates are team the Mets should beat, but they can be a pesky team especially since their pitching has been decent this spring.

Even with their modest four-game winning streak, there are still holes in the Mets’ game, beginning with the offense. Last night they scored a bunch early, but their bats went to sleep and they had to hold on to win.

K-Rod has been lights out, and Bobby Parnell has risen above Sean Green in the pecking order. Green has not pitched well, and Pedro Feliciano has also taken his lumps.

The room is open, but I have to take care of some things and I’ll join you later.

May 08

Niese starts tonight

Jon Niese, at 0-2 with a 6.55 ERA for Triple-A Buffalo, starts tonight for the Mets against Pittsburgh. When Niese considered his record, he admits the promotion came as a surprise.

“It was a shock, but I was real excited,” said Niese. “I had a rough start. You can’t go around that. But I figured things out working on my bullpens, trying to pound the ball in the zone, and I tried to incorporate into my last outing and was successful.”

Barring an exceptional performance that just screams for an encore, this might be Niese’s only start with the Mets for awhile because Tim Redding (shoulder injury) is close to returning.

Redding pitched six strong innings in a rehab start Wednesday for Buffalo.

“I think we’re in a situation where we can now evaluate that spot on a turn-by-turn basis,” manager Jerry Manuel said. “It will depend on how we look the next time around, basically for Niese. This will be a good opportunity for him, but if he’s not quite ready, Redding or another starter down there could take that place.”