Sunday, May 07, 2006


Lima Time

The Braves finally took advantage of the Mets' starting-pitching crisis today, walloping starter Jose Lima and reliever Bartolome Fortunato, 13-3. Lima wasn't bad, allowing 5 runs in 5 innings, but his replacement, fellow Norfolk call-up Fortunato, was awful. The Braves reached him for 8 runs in less than 2 innings, with Jeff Franceour's 3-run HR the big blow.

After yesterday's game, an MRI revealed that Victor Zambrano tore the flexor tendon in his right elbow while pitching against the Braves. He'll have surgery and is out for the season. Met followers like myself who've complained about Zambrano may have gotten what we wished for - his departure - but no one in his or her right mind wanted to see the inconsistent middle starter go out like this. It leaves the Mets - with Brian Bannister and John Maine both on the DL as well - minus two starters. Lima will get another opportunity, but who will become the team's 5th starter? Two other minor-league names being mentioned are Jeremi Gonzalez (31-year-old Venezuelan-born righthander with a 26-33 lifetime record; 2-1 last year with the Red Sox) and Cuban defector Alay Soler (he's never pitched a game in the majors). Word is 6'7" Mike Pelfrey, the Mets' best arm in the minors, will remain in Double A. Will they give Darren Oliver a shot? Aaron Heilman? Will GM Omar Minaya make a trade?

The book on Lima: Signed by the Tigers in 1989 as an amateur free agent, the 33-year-old Dominican-born righthander was traded to the Astros in 1996, where he had his best years, going 16-8 in 1998 and 21-10 in 1999, when he was selected as an All-Star and earned the nickname, "Lima time." He lost 16 games (and allowed 48 HRs) in 2000 and 12 in 2001 before being traded back to the Tigers for ex-Met Dave Mlicki. After a stop in Kansas City, he landed with the Dodgers where he posted a 13-5 record in 2004. Last year he lost 16 games for the Royals. The Mets signed him to a minor-league contract in February. Including today's loss, his career record is 89-99.

The Mets (21-10) go back on the road this week, with stops in Philadelphia and Milwaukee.

Next game: Tuesday, May 9 vs. the Phillies at Citizens Band Park, 7:05 pm start on SNY & WFAN, Pedro Martinez (5-0, 2.72) vs. Bret Myers (2-1, 3.11)

For more on the Mets: CLICK HERE

* The Yankees (18-11) swept the Rangers, winning the final game of the Texas series, 8-5. It was Joe Torre's 1,000th win as Yankee manager. In Boston, the Red Sox (19-12) swept the Orioles, defeating ex-Met Kris Benson (4-3), 10-3, In the battle for first place, the Yankees host the Bosox for a three-game series starting on Tuesday.
* Barry Bonds aims to tie Babe Ruth's 714 career HR mark against the Phillies tonight. Watch the game on ESPN, 8 pm start EST.

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