Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Mets' Maine man?

As I predicted, the Mets promoted John Maine to replace Brian Bannister (pulled hamstring) in the starting rotation. In his Met debut, Maine allowed 4 runs in 5-plus innings, with the big blow a 2-run HR by the Nationals' Alfonso Soriano in the 3rd. Solo shots by Paul Lo Duca (his 2nd) and Carlos Beltran (his 5th) was all the Mets' anemic lineup could muster in the 6-2 loss.

For a team atop the division by 5 games with a 17-9 record (the Braves gained a game by beating the Rockies), the Mets have a lot of glaring weaknesses. While Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine lead the staff with 8 wins against 2 losses, the rest of the pitching corps are a combined 9-7. The bullpen has been pretty solid, with the exception of Jorge Julio and Darren Oliver, who served up his 3rd HR tonight.

But it's the offense, which started the season at a blistering pace, that's significantly cooled off. Virtually every player in the starting lineup has struggled at the plate, with Carlos Delgado, David Wright, Jose Reyes and Cliff Floyd mired in lengthy slumps. Only Xavier Nady (.323) remains in the league's BA leaders.

Is Maine the answer for the 5th-starter slot until Bannister returns? After tonight's performance, it's hard to say. He seemed to have good "stuff," but grooved a fastball to Soriano. “I don’t throw the hardest,” says the 6'4" righthander who the Mets received in the Kris Benson for Jorge Julio trade. “Just like any other pitcher with an average fastball, I have to locate it.”

Next game: Wednesday, May 3 vs. the last-place Pirates (8-20) at Shea, 7:10 pm start on SNY & WFAN, Pedro Martinez (5-0, 2.94) vs. Ian Snell (1-2, 5.79)

For more on the Mets: CLICK HERE

* Barry Bonds' inched closer to tying Babe Ruth's career HR mark with his 712th against the Padres. "Tuesday's homer was Bonds' fourth of the season, and it came in the eighth inning on [Scott] Linebrink's full-count pitch," my brother Barry Bloom reports at MLB.com. "It was the eighth offering of the at-bat, and Bonds drilled the ball beyond the second fence in front of the dark green batting eye 440 feet from home plate [at San Francisco's AT&T Park]. It was his longest and most resounding shot of the season's opening 26 games. 'The weather's been nice and I've been feeling good,' Bonds said. 'It's weird. My knee has been feeling a lot better.'" To read my brother's coverage: CLICK HERE
* The second game of the Yankees-Red Sox series was rained out in Boston.

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