May 13

May 13.10: Phillies vs. Mets Spygate

What’s the first thing somebody usually does when caught doing something wrong? That’s right, he tries to shift the attention to somebody else.

That’s exactly what Phillies manager Charlie Manuel did after his team was caught stealing signs in Colorado when he said, “somebody maybe ought to check the Mets if they did that.’’

The Mets? You mean the same team that was pummeled twice in Philadelphia recently and lost seven of nine games there last season?

Yes, those Mets.

“Their [bleeping] home record is out of this world and they’re losing on the road,’’ Manuel said. “Sometimes that’s a good indicator of getting signs. … That kind of crosses my mind. I’m not accusing them, but you look at that. … We’re about the same home and road. I’m just saying their record is much better at home and they hit better.’’

What Manuel didn’t say, but you know he’s thinking, is the Mets are in his head. If Manuel weren’t concerned about the Mets he wouldn’t have said anything. He’s just trying to deflect attention from him and rattle a few cages at Citi Field.

Mets manager Jerry Manuel, who doesn’t seem to be rattled by anything, said: “Tell Charlie our bullpen is a little far and we have a few other things going on.’’

Yes, this will be a nice little race before it is over.

May 05

May 5.10: Chat Room, Game #28 at Reds: Getaway day and resting Pelfrey.

The Mets behind Jon Niese will attempt to win the rubber game of their series at Cincinnati this afternoon and go home 3-3 on the road trip. A let down of sorts after their 9-1 homestand, but considering what happened in Philly, I’ll take it.

Niese is coming off a superb start last Friday in Philadelphia, prompting one anonymous Phillie to say he’s better than any pitcher the Phillies have “not named Halladay.”

To me, the key story of the day is how the Mets are handling Mike Pelfrey’s tight shoulder. Pelfrey was hammered in his last start, and afterward complained of stiffness in his shoulder. An MRI Monday was negative, but even so the Mets bagged his normal throw day yesterday and today he had a light abbreviated bullpen session.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen said the decision to cancel his normal bullpen was to not force the issue, but also said Pelfrey is good to go this weekend against San Francisco.

I say, why bother?

There’s reason enough to be concerned so shouldn’t the prudent thing be to have him skip his start to be sure he’s sound. We’re talking a game in May. Isn’t it better to miss one game now rather than four or five later should he go on the disabled list for a prolonged time?

When it comes to a pitcher’s arm, I always anticipate the worse and believe it is better to be cautious now rather than regretful later. They don’t need Pelfrey as much this weekend as they do later this season.

R.A. Dickey is pitching well for Triple-A Buffalo and could be brought up for an emergency start.

Here’s today’s line-up for the Mets:

Angel Pagan, CF
Alex Cora, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Gary Matthews, RF
Henry Blanco, C
Jon Niese, LP

May 03

May 3.10: It happens.

What was surprising about the weekend wasn’t that the Mets lost two of three at Philadelphia, but the manner in which they lost them. After nearly two weeks of sharp, aggressive baseball they were pummeled the last two games.

Pummeled. Slaughtered. Waxed. However you want to say it.

It was discouraging the Phillies hammered both Mike Pelfrey and Johan Santana, the two best pitchers the Mets have to offer. But, it isn’t surprising they lost. These things happen. If you want to read that the Phillies are still better, than please do. We kind of knew that all along.

However, the Mets had played too good for an extended period and Santana has been superb for so long to panic over this weekend. File it away under: “It happens.’’

I can’t read anything more into it than that. Both deserve the benefit of doubt.

A mark of a good team is how it bounces back and we’ll find out more about the Mets tonight in Cincinnati, and Santana this weekend against the Giants.

May 02

May 2.10: Chat Room, Game #25 at Phillies: On the rebound.

It’s good to be back. I see we didn’t miss much yesterday. For nearly two weeks everything broke right for the Mets, then it unraveled in dominating fashion Saturday. Getting blitzed by ten runs is being dominated as convincing as it gets.

The Mets won the opening game of the series behind Jon Niese Friday, and the Phillies rolled behind Roy Halladay Saturday in Mike Pelfrey’s first loss of the season. That brings us to Johan Santana, the pitcher the Mets count on to make things right and plenty went wrong yesterday.

Tonight it’s Santana (3-1, 2.08 ERA) against Jamie Moyer (2-2, 5.25). Santana has won his last two games, giving up one run over his last 21 1/3 innings. Santana has gone at least seven innings in seven of his last eight starts against the Phillies – going 4-0 – so the Mets have reason to be optimistic tonight.

The streak wasn’t going to last forever, and logically one had to figure they weren’t going to sweep the Phillies. But, if this series was a test, so is tonight as it will be interesting to see how they respond from yesterday. Tonight is a gut check on several levels.

Apr 30

April 30/May 1.10: Chat Room, Games #23-24 at Phillies: Niese and Pelfrey carry the load.

The last time the Mets played the Phillies they lost to be officially eliminated from playoff contention. That was last September, but the truth is the Mets were cooked long before that game. It was one of 12 games the Mets lost to their rivals at the other end of the Jersey Turnpike last season, one that went horribly wrong for them.

In the previous two seasons, the Phillies overtook the Mets on the final weekend and went on to the World Series.

The first-place Mets are back in Philly tonight for the start of a three-game series against the Phillies.
The Mets, winners of seven straight, are the majors’ hottest team, and enter the series with their three most consistent pitchers, Jon Niese tonight followed by Mike Pelfrey and Johan Santana.

“If we go out there and we do what we’re capable of, I think we’re going to be fine,’’ said Pelfrey, Saturday’s starter against Roy Halladay. “I don’t think it matters who we’re playing. It’s just a matter of going out there and executing. If we do that, we can play with anybody.’’

In breaking down the series, Santana figures to have the edge Sunday and Halladay should be favored over Pelfrey, which leaves the toss-up game tonight that boils down to how well Niese does against Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.

The Mets’ offense is starting to heat up, and it couldn’t come at a better time for Niese, who has gotten no more than one run in any of his last four starts.

The power keys are Jason Bay and David Wright, who shook slumps in the Los Angeles series.

Still, these are the Phillies and strange things often happen in that bandbox of a park. The Mets are streaking, but an argument can be made they won nine of ten games against the Cubs, Braves and Dodgers, all teams struggling lately. The Phillies have stumbled a bit – enough to where the Mets passed them – but manager Manuel is right in that they are the class of the league.

“It will be a good barometer as far as where you stand,’’ said Bay. “They’re obviously one of the top teams in the National League for what they’ve done the last few years. You can’t deny that. And we’re playing pretty good baseball.’’

NOTE: Folks, I have to attend to a family commitment tonight and tomorrow and won’t be on the blog. I will leave the Chat Room open and hope you continue to watch the games and post. I will be back online Sunday.
Sorry I can’t be with you, but I need to take care of this responsibility.