Apr 18

April 18.10: Chat Room, Game #12 at Cardinals: Pressure on Maine.

The pressure never ends.

As much as last night’s epic 20-inning victory – anything 20 innings plus is epic – has been written and mentioned as being a catalyst to turn around this sluggish season, it means nothing unless the Mets can sustain.

That means John Maine must step up, perhaps unlike at any other time during his career with the Mets, and pitch big tonight against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Mets exhausted their bullpen last night for 13 innings, and despite pitching one inning, Francisco Rodriguez was spent after throwing 100 pitches in an up-and-down evening warming in the pen.

If a starter won’t throw the next day after throwing 100 pitches, the same could be for Rodriguez tonight.

Maine, who seems to hyperventilate around the third or fourth inning, needs at least six, better seven innings tonight. He needs it for a lot of reasons, including to silence the Dillon Gee whispers.

You see, Maine isn’t pitching tonight to save the bullpen as much as he is his spot in the rotation. While it is likely Maine, barring a disaster, will get another start after this, manager Jerry Manuel has done nothing to dispel the speculation.

Aware of ramifications of a third hammering, Maine went to the videotape to look at his mechanics and pitch selection from 2007, when he won 15 games. Fundamentally, Maine concluded if he’s going down it would be with his fastball, which has atrophied after falling in love with his off-speed and breaking balls.

“I’m fine, my shoulder is fine,’’ Maine said after the Colorado debacle. “ I know the No. 1 priority is to get back and throw my fastball. That’s what I’m going to do in my bullpen. That’s what I’m going to do in my next start I’m going to get back to where I was.’’

Maine looked at everything from wind-up to delivery to release point and said he’s going back to his 2007 delivery and with it, hopefully that year’s fastball. Where Maine once touched the radar gun at 94 mph, he topped out at 91 in his last start, Tuesday night’s meltdown in Colorado.

“I’m just going to go back to that delivery, going back to throwing the fastball,’’ Maine said. “Hopefully it turns out fine. I may get hit, but, you know, at least I know I’m going out there, getting beat with my best pitch and not my second and third pitch.’’

Maine, 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA, has given up 12 runs in eight innings in his two starts, including eight runs in three innings at Colorado Tuesday.

“It’s hard. I’m doing my stuff in between starts,” Maine said. “I’m doing the right things. I just can’t put it together. … This is awful right now.”

****

Tonight’s line-up for the Mets (4-7):

Jose Reyes, SS
Alex Cora, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Frank Catalanotto, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Gary Matthews, CF
Rod Barajas, C
Angel Pagan, LF
John Maine, RP

NOTES: Mike Jacobs was designated for assignment to make room for reliever Tobi Stoner, who was brought up to bolster their depleted bullpen. It’s obvious the Mets won’t go with a Fernando Tatis-Catalanotto platoon, so expect Ike Davis to be promoted. By designating Jacobs for assignment, the Mets open a spot on their 40-man roster.

Apr 18

April 18.10: About Last Night: Will it spur the Mets?

Not all games are created equal, either in consequence or drama. Yesterday’s 6:53, 20-inning endurance test sent Jose Reyes’ spikes and bat to the Hall of Fame, an indication of something special.

There are dozens and dozens of numbers spawning from this game, and an equal number of snap shot memories, beginning with Alex Cora’s sprawling catch into the stands to rob Matt Holliday (pictured).

Take away that catch, and maybe you take away 10 innings of history.

They will be talking about last night for years, but what remains uncertain is how the victory will play out this season for the struggling Mets.

The attributes of grit and resiliency, patience and perseverance, hustle and clutch, all surfaced last night – for both teams – and for the Mets they had been qualities lacking.

“This game] was big for us…We needed to win this game,” Jerry Manuel said. “They were fighting all day to stay in the game. Hopefully, that’s a sign of things to come for us…We were able to hang around, hang around, hang around…Lay on the ropes for about nine innings and then waited for all the other guys to get out of the game.”

It’s an oversimplification to suggest the Mets have turned around their season, but it is not a reach to say last night might be the spark they needed.

When the Mets were in Colorado they took in the Nuggets came. It was to be a bonding exercise. They promptly lost two of three to the Rockies. It’s impossible for a team to bond more than in a game like last night.

The starter, Johan Santana, pitched seven brilliant innings, and 13 innings later was on the bench in uniform wearing a rally cap. Every Met, save Oliver Perez, played and contributed something. Perez, in fact, was ready to pinch hit.

The bullpen gave up one run in 13 innings, but despite all the walks issued it continually refused to yield. Three times in extra innings the Cardinals left the bases loaded.

The offense didn’t get its first hit until the sixth inning, and consisted of strikeout after strikeout from David Wright and Jason Bay, until Jeff Francoeur and Jose Reyes delivered sacrifice flies.

The Cardinals had a half-dozen chances to win, but the Mets found a way to deny them until like a child confronted with a math problem, figured out a way.

It remains to be seen whether the Mets found an answer they can build on, but the opportunity is there.

Apr 17

April 17.10: Chat Room, Game # 11 at Cardinals: Santana tries to stop slide.

OK, the Mets lost last night in a game they could have won. In the grand scheme of things, it’s still a loss, but as the game progressed there was a different feeling than most times this young season. That’s because Oliver Perez was pitching well, giving the Mets two strong-pitched games in a row.

There’s a different feel defensively when a team gets a well-pitched game, and the Mets were indeed crisp in the field.

Today it’s Johan Santana, who always gives the Mets a chance to win, even when the offense takes a pass as it has most games already this season.

It’s the same story with the Mets offense, which is to say they aren’t hitting with runners in scoring position. Chris Carpenter pitched a good game last night, but still the Mets had a chance to put the game away before it was turned over to the bullpen.

The Mets are on national TV this afternoon. I hope you tune in and also drop by here with your thoughts.

Thanks.

Apr 15

April 15.10: Chat Room, Game #9 at Rockies: Will Pelfrey tax us today?

Mike Pelfrey takes his new and improved splitter to the mound this afternoon at Colorado with hopes of snapping the Mets’ four-game losing streak. Pelfrey is coming off a solid performance last Friday against Washington.

Pelfrey was successful because he worked quickly, kept the ball down and got ahead in the count. That’s always the formula for any pitcher’s success, but something Pelfrey has been consistently lacking.

The Mets’ problems have been poor starting pitching and horrid hitting, namely hitting with runners in scoring position (.164). The Mets are 2-6 with four games remaining on this road trip, which concludes with three games this weekend in St. Louis.

Apr 15

April 15.10: About Last Night: Mejia not ready for primetime.

If one learns of themselves through adversity, then maybe the Mets learned last night Jenrry Mejia might not be ready for primetime.

Last night’s main storyline emerged from the rubble of John Maine’s performance the previous night which prompted the question: If not Maine, then who?

Of course, Mejia’s name surfaced, but he’s not sufficiently stretched out to be the starter some in the organization want him to be. Jerry Manuel, however, wants him in the major leagues now as a reliever.

But, he’s been used in mop-up, low pressure situation because he’s not ready. Well, that was until last night. Enter Mejia in the tenth inning. Exit Chris Iannetta’s drive for from the park for a game-winning homer.

Mejia has a world of talent, but he’s not ready for the major leagues in primetime. The organization is divided on his role. Some, read Omar Minaya, want him at the beginning of the game. Manuel wants him in the late innings.

But, if he’s here, he shouldn’t be protected. He should be ready to pitch, but last night showed there are questions.

That’s what I took out of last night: The indecision over Mejia.