Saturday, May 06, 2006


Mets' starting rotation blues

Willie Randolph had a problem. Just four batters into today's matinee against the Braves, Victor Zambrano winced and took himself out of the game. Prognosis: an elbow injury that could require "Tommy John" surgery. The Mets' manager winced himself, then called for lefty Darren Oliver, who allowed two runs in 4 innings. Like Friday night, the score see-sawed back and forth. The Braves took a 3-2 lead in the 7th, but the Mets rallied for 4 runs in the bottom of the inning; the big hit was Kaz Matsui's 2-run double. Now up 6-3, the Mets held on for dear life, as the Braves' scored in the 8th and 9th, but couldn't tie the game with runners on 1st and 3rd, their hottest hitter Edgar Rentaria at bat, and Jorge Julio trying to nail down his first save since 2004. When Rentaria grounded out, Randolph smiled widely. He'd dodged a bullet and certainly provided Julio with a major vote of confidence. Due to Friday's lengthy, bullpen-clearing victory, the Mets' crafty manager refused to use his top three relievers - Billy Wagner, Aaron Heilman and Duaner Sanchez - and instead put the game in Julio's shakey hands. If Julio blew the save, then Randolph and pitching coach Rick Peterson would've been the goats; instead, they looked like genuises.

They'll need their collective brain power to figure out how to handle the Mets' starting rotation mess. John Maine (sore finger) was placed in the DL before the game, Brian Bannister (strained hamstring) is already on the DL and it looks like Zambrano is heading there as well. That means Sunday's starting pitcher is veteran righthander Jose Lima, who didn't impress during spring training. But the Mets are 21-9, so they can afford to take their chances with Lima for now.

Any chance the Mets will give Heilman a start? Why the Heilman not?

More Met highlights:
* It was their 4th win in a row. They lead the Phillies (16-14), who beat the Giants, by 5 games and the Braves (12-18) by 9.
* Jose Reyes had 3 more hits (that's 8 in the last 2 games), including 2 doubles, raising his BA to .280.
* Carlos Beltran ripped his 7th HR; he's homered in each game of the series thus far.
* Carlos Delgado drove in a run (his 25th) and had 2 hits.

Next game: Sunday, May 7 vs. the Braves at Shea, 1:10 pm start on WB-11 & WFAN, Jose Lima (0-0, 0.00) vs. John Smoltz (1-2, 4.05)

For more on the Mets: CLICK HERE

* The Yankees (19-11) knocked off the Rangers 6-1 behind Shawn Chacon (4-1). Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez HR-ed. In Boston, the Red Sox (18-12) defeated the Orioles, 9-3, but in Toronto, the Blue Jays (15-14) were shut out by the Angels, 3-0. The Yank and Bosox remain tied for first place. The Yankees go for the sweep on Sunday, Chien-Ming Wong (1-1, 4.89) vs. Robinson Tejeda (1-0, 3.60), 2:05 pm start on YES & WCBS.
* Barry Bonds singled and walked in 4 ABs vs. the Phillies; he's still 2 HRs away from tying Babe Ruth's 714 mark on the all-time list.

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