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Freestyler Xtreme
no need to put the recaps...the mets lost a close one yesterday night, after having a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the 9th, a sweep would have been sweet but 2 out of 3 is not bad and we gave that last game away...

now we play meaningful games, Phillies and Marlins...here are the standings and the wild card...

Team W L PCT. GB

Nationals 44 31 .587 -

Braves 41 34 .547 3.0

Marlins 38 34 .528 4.5

Phillies 39 37 .513 5.5

Mets 37 38 .493 7.0



Atlanta 41 34 .547 -

Florida 38 34 .528 1½

Chi. Cubs 38 36 .514 2½

Philadelphia 39 37 .513 2½

Arizona 39 38 .506 3

N.Y. Mets 37 38 .493 4


Freestyler Xtreme
Notes: GM dismisses Cameron rumors
Minaya shoots down reports of swap with Yankees
By Marty Noble / MLB.com

Mike Cameron has been a standout defender in right field after earning a pair of Gold Gloves in center field. (Gregory Bull/AP)

NEW YORK -- It was a protracted pause, long enough to prompt wonder, long enough to raise a question of doubt.
Omar Minaya was discussing the Mets' core players, those around whom the club intends to build its next run of success. He already had mentioned David Wright and Jose Reyes as a matter of course. And Minaya expects Carlos Beltran be in place when that run happens, so he included Beltran as well even though the Mets center fielder is an import.

Then came the pause ... long and telling.

The words "Mike Cameron" ended the pause. They also put an end to the chance of the Mets dealing Cameron to the Yankees for Gary Sheffield. Even before Sheffield effectively removed himself from the market with threats of civil disobedience expressed Wednesday in Balitmore, it was clear the Mets didn't want to deal Cameron.

"It's critical for us to keep our core group of guys together," Minaya said. "Let's try to fix it from the inside and then see."

Cameron may not be as much of a core player as Wright, Reyes and Beltran. Age and the specter of prospect Lastings Milledge denies him a place with other three. Minaya said as much in December, the day the Mets signed Beltran.

But that Minaya identified Cameron as any kind of core player-- "He's part of the team. I want to say that he's part of our core," Minaya later said -- indicated the Mets general manager wants to retain the veteran right fielder, that he wants Cameron to be part of whatever success the Mets have this season and next and, "We'll see after that."

The New York-New York exchange was broached at some point in the last five days. A person with the Mets acknowledged as much Wednesday after the back page of New York Post trumpeted the deal that, the person indicated, had been a product of the Yankees' fancy. "We're not trying to move [Cameron]," he said. "But you listen."

Minaya talked all around the reported trade talks Wednesday, never acknowledging any sort of package including the two veteran outfielders had been discussed. But in the course of his conversations with reporters, his high regard for Cameron was quite evident.

The GM and manager Willie Randolph clearly agree on Cameron and his importance to the Mets. Cameron's play has been the best ever by a Mets right fielder. His production, undermined by early-season rehab of his left wrist and subsequent problems with his right leg, has nonetheless exceeded expectation. He was batting .298 with a .536 slugging percentage, .399 on-base average, six home runs and 16 RBI in 178 plate appearances through Tuesday night.

Morever, Randolph embraces the energy and enthusiasm Cameron provides. The Mets have no other comparable source for those intangibles. Chances are Sheffield wouldn't provide them, even if he wanted to play for the Mets. He isn't that sort of player. And beyond all that, he is older than Cameron by 4 1/2 years, significantly more expensive and not nearly the baserunner or defender Cameron is.

But of course, Sheffield is a superior, dominant offensive player. The Mets don't have one of them.

Cameron preferred to say nothing about the report, even after he was had been told it wasn't happening. And Cliff Floyd, his buddy, said he was angered by the distraction, even though the Yankees wanting Cameron and the Mets being unwilling to deal him was a two-sided compliment.

"He just doesn't want that coming up now," Floyd said. "He wants it to go away."

right now the mets are trying to determine wether they are buying or selling...the last thing i want to see is them taking on extra salary and an older player so the next few weeks are gonna be real interesting...

the mets will need to pull off a decent winning streak to get back on the division race but the wild card is still up for grabs which is good so technically they are not out of it yet unless they fall 10 games behind in either race by the end of july...


Team W L PCT. GB

Nationals 46 31 .597 -

Braves 43 35 .551 3.5

Marlins 39 36 .520 6.0

Phillies 40 38 .513 6.5

Mets 38 39 .494 8.0


Team GB

Braves -

Cubs 2

Marlins 2 ½

Phillies 3

Mets 4 ½

Diamondbacks 4 ½


Freestyler Xtreme
Mets winners, grinners in finale
Woodward, Reyes drive in two apiece to take Philly series
By Marty Noble / MLB.com

Chris Woodward hit .366 (15-for-41) over the month of June. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

NEW YORK -- The Mets entered and exited their three-game series against the Phillies as the last-place team in the National League East, right behind the falling, faded and fundamentally flawed fourth-place fellas from Philly. That juxtaposition almost certainly will change -- as in reverse -- in the near future if the teams continue to perform as they did in the three midweek games contested at Shea Stadium.
Even when the Mets lost -- they were victims in a 6-3 game Wednesday night -- they appeared more energized than the Phillies. And the Mets' two victories -- 8-3 Tuesday night and 5-3 Thursday afternoon -- were demonstrations of what so many players mindlessly say and so few actually practice: "Go out there and have fun."

The Mets are enjoying themselves. The Phillies are not. And the Phillies obviously still have the better record -- 40-39 to the Mets' 39-39.

Jose Reyes often smiles ear to ear, but that's just genetics. The Mets' smile is as wide as this page. And that's just because they are having fun. Why, even the oft-sullen Mike Piazza was caught smiling en route to his locker Thursday afternoon following the Mets' sixth victory in nine games.

Braden Looper, some 30 minutes removed from an introduction that prompted boos, was happy with himself, his 1-2-3 ninth inning and his 16th save. Pedro Martinez, after a rather pedestrian -- for him -- performance, was content to have gained his ninth victory.

But those are normal reactions. Success always breeds some smiles. The Mets, though, seem genuinely pleased merely to be playing. They have taken to heart the words Phillies manager Charlie Manuel spoke to his dysfunctional group last week when he reminded Pat Burrell, Jimmy Rollins, Bobby Abreu, et al, that playing baseball is fun way to make a million bucks. Willie Randolph need not remind his guys. They're happy to be here.

So it was that Cliff Floyd smiled through a mouthful of dust after diving on the warning track -- for a foul ball in the sixth inning Thursday. His effort, reaction and even his commentary -- "I was so tired I think fell more than I dived," Floyd said -- were in marked contrast to Abreu's avoid-the-wall attempt to catch Carlos Beltran's fly ball Tuesday night.

Neither catch was made. One fly became a meaningless strike, the other a triple that ignited a four-run rally.

"I'm very happy with the effort my guys are giving," Randolph said. "You see guys putting it on the line like Cliff did, it gets everyone thinking right."

The Mets are thinking right, too.

This victory, their ninth in 12 games against the Phillies this season, came replete with several such plays. Beltran, so anxious to used to his now-healed running muscles, stole second and third on consecutive pitches in the seventh, tripling his season stolen base output in a 15-second sequence in his team's 78th game. And when Phillies third baseman David Bell played well off the base on the ensuing pitch from Ryan Madson, Beltran considered trying to steal home.

"The fans wanted me to," he said later.

Floyd stole two bases, too -- one in the second, when he singled and scored the first of the two runs losing pitcher Jon Lieber (8-8) would allow in the inning and of the five runs he would allow in his four innings. "Two bags [steals] in a day game after a night game," Floyd, 32, said. "I must be 16."

But better than any of that was Floyd's hit in the third -- a bunt single. "Probably my first since 1993, when I was batting second with Montreal,"' he said.

With no one on base, the Phillies had an overstated overshift in place as they had in a similar circumstance Wednesday night. In that instance, Floyd pulled a ground ball past Jim Thome at first. But second baseman Chase Utley, playing deeper in right than they used to play Willie McCovey, handled the ball and threw out Floyd; it irritated him, too.

So in the third inning Thursday, Floyd squared as if in sacrifice mode and laid one down. Richie Ashburn couldn't have done it better.

"I got my hit back from last [Wednesday] night," Floyd said. "They ticked me off. I mean, what kind of shift is that? [Utley] could turn around and shake hands with [right fielder] Abreu."

Just the other day, Randolph had been wondering out loud why players don't try to exploit overshifts more often. But the more immediate influence on Floyd had been Chris Woodward. Aware of how the overshift had cost Floyd on Wednesday night, Woodward urged him to bunt Thursday.

"Why not? Make them play honest," Woodward said.

"I don't know if I can do that again," Floyd said. "But they shift like that again, and I'll try. Gotta make them pay. If I score after that bunt and then the steal, it's a lesson for them."

Woodward made more tangible contributions. He drove in two runs in the second with a single to more than offset the bases-empty, leadoff home run Rollins had hit in the previous half-inning. And his double in the fourth, following Lieber's hitting David Wright, was the linchpin of the three-run rally that proved decisive. Wright and Woodward scored on Reyes' Major League-leading ninth triple, and Reyes scored when Mike Cameron singled through the left side of a drawn-in infield.

Woodward now has hit safely in 14 of his last 15 starts. He has batted .359 with eight RBIs in those games.

He, Floyd and Cameron left smiling, too.

"What is there to be unhappy about?" Floyd said. "We're in last place. But we could win five in a row and be in third. I think we were unhappy for a while -- when we were losing out on the coast [the Mets lost five of six games to the A's and Mariners, June 14-19, to fall three games under .500.]

"We were three under, and you heard people talk, and it was like were 20 under. We weren't as bad as it looked. But if you let it get to you, you can fall farther."

The Mets have taken a pair of three-game series, one from the Phillies and one from the Yankees since then.

And now they play three against the Marlins. Smile!

Cairo is on his way back to the lineup and beltran looks healthy, if we can continue winning 2 of 3 or get a nice winning streak going on till the all star break, we can be in a good position for the division or the wild card...


Freestyler Xtreme

Mets cool off red-hot Nationals
New lineup helps New York to win in series opener
By David Selig / Special to MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Willie Randolph didn't think much of his pregame lineup shuffle on Monday, and neither did the players involved.
But it seemingly had an impact, as several of the rearranged players contributed to a 5-2 comeback win against the first-place Nationals before a Fourth of July crowd of 44,331, the largest all season at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

"I don't get off on that stuff," Randolph said, deflecting the opportunity to take credit for his moves while addressing the media after the game. "I guess it's just fun for you guys to write about, but for me, it's all about the team winning."

The Mets trailed, 2-0, in the seventh inning when the hitters first took advantage of at-bats in their new roles. No. 7 hitter Jose Reyes -- who hadn't hit lower than second in the lineup before Monday -- smacked a single to score Marlon Anderson for the Mets' first tally.

"I feel like a leadoff hitter, [but] it's OK," Reyes said after his 2-for-4 performance. "It's the same. The pitchers throw the same; nothing changed."

Some players could have been taken back by being dropped six spots in the lineup, but the 22-year-old Reyes appeared genuinely happy to "just be in the lineup."

"It's not a demotion, and it's nothing against him," Randolph said. "This is part of his learning."

Taking over Reyes' customary spot at the top of the order, Mike Cameron slapped a broken-bat single to center field to drive in the shortstop and tie the game later in the seventh.

From that point, Randolph was able to turn to two of the most automatic parts of his team.

Roberto Hernandez held the Nationals scoreless for two innings, dropping his ERA to 1.78 and earning his fourth win.

And in the top of the ninth, veteran Jose Offerman continued the Mets' pinch-hitting brilliance, lining a Sunny Kim offering past diving shortstop Jamey Carroll to plate the go-ahead run.

"To get to 3-2, he threw me a changeup, and I was off balance because I didn't expect that pitch," said Offerman, a "professional hitter," according to his manager. "On the second [changeup], I expected it and was able to follow the ball and just hit a rope."

The Mets have hit .347 in pinch-hit at-bats, the best mark in the Major Leagues and a key reason why they were able to earn their 18th come-from-behind win on Monday.

But it took another single and a stolen base from Reyes -- who seemed to be in the right spot all game -- to set up that clutch hit. Cameron doubled home an insurance run, and Carlos Beltran, who moved up from No. 3 to the two-hole, added another run with a hit to left.


"I think he's pitched better than his record indicates. He pitched well enough to win the ballgame, and he'll take the ball next time."
-- Willie Randolph on Kaz Ishii


Randolph's decision not to make any changes to the rotation following a 3 1/3 inning, five-run outing from Kazuhisa Ishii last week also panned out.

With no walks and five strikeouts through five innings, Ishii appeared like he may be reborn on the Fourth of July.

He was removed in the sixth after the first hitter he walked scored on a double muscled to left by Jose Guillen. But Ishii refused to let the surging Nationals put together a big inning, and he kept the Mets within striking distance.

"I think he's pitched better than his record indicates," said Randolph, who removed the left-hander with slugging right-handed hitter Vinny Castilla coming up. "He pitched well enough to win the ballgame, and he'll take the ball next time."

Only Randolph knows how the lineup will shape up when Ishii gets his next turn, or Tuesday for that matter. But day one of Randolph's experiment was a success, as he beat a plucky Washington team at its own game.

"Anytime you go head-on with guys in your division, you've got to take advantage," Randolph said. "Anytime you win ballgames and pick up a full game, it's huge."

The Mets only pulled within nine games of the Nationals as Independence Day passed, but the team is now 1-0 in the second half of its schedule and has three more matchups with the Nats this week.

"There's a lot of baseball to be played," Cameron said. "[Only] 82 games in the basket, so we've got plenty of time."

it was tough to see them lose 2 of 3 from the marlins, but with the win on monday against the nationals we can build on that before we head out to pittsburgh for the all star game...my hope si we can sneak 3 out of 4 from them...win the series against the pirates and get back on track toward the division or the wild card...


Team W L PCT. GB

Nationals 50 32 .610 -

Braves 46 37 .554 4.5

Marlins 42 38 .525 7.0

Phillies 42 41 .506 8.5

Mets 41 41 .500 9.0


Team GB

Braves -

Marlins 2 ½

Phillies 4

Mets 4 ½


Freestyler Xtreme

Piazza delivers Mets win in extras
Catcher strokes game-winning hit in 11th inning
By Marty Noble / MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- "Never too high, never too low." It is the mantra of the moderate. And it was the mantra of the Mets on a never-say-never Thursday afternoon that produced the kind of victory that makes moderation difficult to maintain.
So it was with some awkwardness that the Mets sat on their hands when they wanted to punch their air, sat on their egos when the wanted to beat their chests and sat on their buses to the airport and a plane to Pittsburgh when they wanted to play another game of consequence here.

"Fly happy," Chris Woodward said in the Mets' clubhouse, some 18 hours after the night-game-before-a-day-game directive had been spoken -- "Sleep fast."

The Mets did, as they came back to RFK Stadium after a short night and beat the Nationals in a long game, scoring in the 11th inning on Mike Piazza's third hit of the day to win, 3-2, and taking a game from the division leaders for the third time in four days.

Seldom in Willie Randolph's managerial tenure, now 43 victories and 42 losses long, have the Mets experienced the sensations they felt as they showered and dressed and quasi-celebrated in the bowels of this relic arena. "It's really not time to bask," the manager said. But hours earlier, before the first pitch of the Kris Benson vs. Tony Armas matchup, Randolph had characterized Game 85 as "huge."

And it didn't suddenly shrink back to standard, "it's just of one of 162" size when Braden Looper retired Wil Cordero for the final out on a long foul fly that Cliff Floyd caught almost straddling the left-field line.

"No," Floyd said. "It's big, but we've got to keep a lid on it a little. It's July. If this was September, we'd be dancing."

But if it were September and the Mets were eight games out, as they are now, they might be dancing the elimination waltz. An eight-game deficit in July can be dealt with -- rationalized, ignored or even overcome. An eight-game deficit that would have been two games greater with a loss Thursday can be celebrated -- quietly, though, of course.

No basking, by order of the manager.

Without the slightest bask, Randolph and his players delighted in their swing-game success. "It could have been 10," Looper said twice.

"I'm excited," Randolph said. He wanted a sweep. And why not? Seven is less than eight. But he'll take it. It's not too easy to win here.

The Nationals are the National League's foremost homebodies. Their RFK record is 30-13. But the Mets are responsible for an inordinate number of those losses -- four in merely seven games. And in winning three times, they won more games than the last six teams that visited -- they were 2-18.

For that matter, the Mets have beaten the Nationals more often -- six times in 10 games -- regardless of site than any other team. Moreover, the Mets beat the pesky Nats at their own game Thursday. The Nationals are black belts in one-run games, having won 23 of 31. The Mets' record in such games is a modest 11-10. "That makes it cooler," Woodward said.

Piazza's bloop single to right-center field off losing pitcher Luis Ayala (7-5) scored Carlos Beltran from second base and made all that possible -- and cooler. It wasn't a handsome hit; the play it initiated produced more outs, two, than runs. But it provided what was necessary for the Mets to push their heads above sea level. "I'd like to get out of Pittsburgh three [games] over," Randolph said. "It'd be a nice point to start the second half."

The hit came after Nationals manager Frank Robinson properly had Ayala walk Floyd intentionally. Piazza knew it was the smart move.

Beltran had doubled with one out, so the walk set up the double play. But it also allowed Ayala to avoid Floyd -- "Our best hitter," Randolph said -- and face the 36-year-old catcher who has acted his age of late.

It was only seven innings earlier that a booming double Piazza had borrowed from his 1999 portfolio not only tied the score at 2, but also ended the third longest hitless streak, 16 at-bats, of Piazza's career. He hadn't had an extra-base hit in 24 at-bats before that hit off Armas, and hadn't driven in a run since June 28.

But as Randolph said last week. "Those guys who are going to the Hall of Fame, they can still give you some magic."

And after his double, Piazza had told his teammates, "The dying mule still has some kick left."

What Piazza feared was the double play that Robinson had put in order. When he was at his best, Piazza could hit a double-play ground ball with the best of them. And, in a way, he did just that in the 11th.

Beltran scored on the bloop, beating Jose Guillen's throw to the plate. The ball got away from catcher Brian Schneider. Piazza broke for second after stopping at first. He was thrown out. Floyd tried to score from third, he was thrown out at the plate.

"We pretty much killed that rally," Piazza said. "But it's good we got the one."

The Mets had a lead, and Looper (20th save) preserved it, retiring three of four batters in he ninth and making a winning pitcher of rookie Heath Bell for the first time in his career.

Bell (1-3) wasn't so sure a celebration wasn't in order. He had lost his first five big league decisions.

He earned the ball and the lineup card he will have framed and mounted, pitching two scoreless innings after Roberto Hernandez pitched one. Bell created his own jeopardy in the ninth and needed to retire Guillen and Brad Wilkerson with runners on first and second. His 10th was clean.

The Mets' bullpen pitched 11 2/3 innings in the series and allowed no runs.

that series was HUGE...we managed to win 3 out of 4 in a very tough stadium and hopefully this will carry over to Pittsburgh...unfortunately...the other teams in the east kept winning so we didnt gain much ground..so if the mets want to climb up the standings they better depend on themselves...


Team W L PCT. GB

Nationals 51 34 .600 -

Braves 49 37 .570 2.5

Marlins 44 39 .530 6.0

Mets 43 42 .506 8.0

Phillies 43 43 .500 8.5


Team GB

Braves -

Marlins 3 ½

Mets 5 ½


Freestyler Xtreme
Mets sign pair of 16-year-olds

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- The Mets signed 16-year-old outfielder Jesus Martinez to one of the richest deals for a prospect from the Dominican Republic, and also announced the signing of 16-year-old right-handed pitcher Deolis Guerra of Venezuela.
"I'm happy that we have are able to bring Deolis and Jesus into the Mets organization. Sandy Johnson, Rafael Bournigal and Eddy Toledo have worked extremely hard and did a great job getting these two kids signed," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said in a statement. "These are two of the best young international players. Signing them goes in line with our original plan of being active in the international market."

Guerra is 6-foot-5, 200 pounds and hails from Puerto Ordaz in Venezuela. The left-handed hitting Martinez is 6-foot tall and 185 pounds.

Both players are expected to report to the Mets' Instructional League team sometime in September. The Associated Press reported Martinez received a $1.4 million contract. Martinez said he wants to attend college and study business administration. The Mets included $100,000 to pay for his studies as part of the agreement.

"I didn't expect something of this size," Martinez said from his home in Rio San Juan.

Martinez bats left and throws right. He was signed by Bournigal, the Mets' director of international scouting.

Because of his arm strength, a number of scouts had expressed interest in Martinez, comparing him to fellow Dominicans Raul Mondesi and Jose Guillen.

The Mets have a baseball academy in the Dominican and a team in the Dominican summer league. The training complex in San Cristobal is in operation all year long.


Freestyler Xtreme

Long balls lead Mets to victory
Piazza's three-run shot is the game-winner for New York
By Marty Noble / MLB.com

NEW YORK -- The game requires self-deception and the ability to forget -- or rationalize away -- yesterday's defeat and last week's 0-fer. For the Mets, specifically, there is the need to discredit the conclusion drawn from their first 88 games and to convince themselves that they are better than the 44-44 record they produced through Sunday.
There was need not to resume their season as the schedule-maker had mandated, but to rekindle the hope they had in April and as recently as last week, when they asserted themselves in Washington. And they did so in rather dramatic fashion on Thursday.

The Mets were more than dramatic in this one, their 6-3 victory against the Braves. They were good. No deception here.

Their performance -- from David Wright's two home runs to Carlos Beltran's four hits to the almost bizarre, opposite-field three-run home run by Mike Piazza in the eighth inning that decided the outcome -- was quite good, almost unflawed and pretty convincing. No deception required on this one. This was reality TV -- team victory.

Piazza went to right field for his 10th home run of the season, and not straightaway right either. He hit it as a left-handed pull hitter would. But no matter its course, it allowed the Mets to make their first step of the second half in the right direction.

It was a victory consistent with the blueprint that general manager Omar Minaya created last winter -- with lots of contributions.

"It would be great," said Cliff Floyd, "if we could get another 50 like this."

The Mets' 45th victory of the season had all sorts of encouraging ingredients aside from the hits the Nos. 3, 5 and 6 hitters produced, not the least of which was Jose Offerman's score-tying pinch-hit single in the seventh inning.

Kris Benson provided seven effective, though not entirely successful, innings. And though Roberto Hernandez endured a sticky eighth, he and Braden Looper shut down the Braves for the last two innings.

For all the pitching and offense, it was two defensive plays that were most enjoyable. One was an extraordinary catch by Floyd in the fifth inning. With the Mets leading, 2-1, Floyd chased Ryan Langerhans' foul fly across left field, caught it at the wall and then went heels-over-head into the area between the wall and the stands, some 25 feet short of the foul pole.

Three innings later, Wright dove, caught a popped-up suicide squeeze attempt by Kelly Johnson, stood, jogged to third and completed an unassisted double play.

"We made plays tonight," said Willie Randolph. "We haven't been doing that enough."

The only instance of defensive shortfall was Wright's 16th error, a high and wide throw on a ground ball by Johnny Estrada that preceded a two-run home run by Adam LaRoche in the seventh. That homer put Benson in position for his fourth loss, but Offerman's single -- remarkably, his sixth hit and fifth RBI in nine pinch-hit at-bats since joining the Mets -- took Benson off the hook. Benson now has three no-decisions in his last four starts.

LaRoche's 12th home run was Rico Brogna-like, a fly ball over the fence in left-center from a left-handed swing. Piazza's 10th was hit to Strawberry's Field.

"I don't know, maybe I'm starting something new," said Piazza.

At his best, Piazza would crush the ball to right-center, but he seldom has hit balls -- whether it be a ground ball, fly ball, line drive -- to the left of a right fielder.

He hit a high 0-2 fastball outside the strike zone from rookie Blaine Boyer, who hadn't allowed a home run in his first 14 appearances.

"Sometimes you have to sell out," said Piazza. "I figure he had throw a fastball there."

A double, the last of Beltran's four hits, off losing pitcher pitcher Jim Brower and a walk to Floyd by John Foster preceded Piazza's 388th home run and the RBI that brought his career total to 1,200.

Beltran has had 12 four-hit games, 11 before this season. This one helped reinforce some lessons relearned at the All-Star Game.

"I talked with [Albert] Pujols and [Bobby] Abreu," said Beltran. "The All-Star Game is the best place to talk hitting. Sometimes you hear things that you used to do that you're not doing anymore."

Until Piazza provided the decisive runs, the Mets' game essentially had belonged to Wright. New York's offensive production through the first six innings was the sum of two of his swings, swings that produced the second two-home run game of his career. Wright hit his home runs in the second and fourth innings. He hit the first pitch of the Mets' second for his 12th and a 2-0 pitch with one out in the fourth for his 13th, both against Horacio Ramirez.

And it was Wright's leadoff walk against Ramirez in the seventh that led to the run Offerman drove in. Ramirez was seemingly pitching around Wright -- one strike and then four balls -- though the Braves had a one-run lead. But the leadoff walk was understandable, perhaps even preferable. Before the walk, Wright had seven hits in 10 career at-bats against the Braves pitcher, and four of the seven had been home runs.

"It was an emotional whirlwind for me," said Wright. "Two good at-bats, then the error. And you feel like you have 40,000 eyes staring through you. Then the walk and double play, and Mike's home run. Wow! It was that kind of game for all of us. Up and down and up again."


Team W L PCT. GB

Nationals 52 37 .584 -

Braves 50 40 .556 2.5

Phillies 46 44 .511 6.5

Marlins 44 43 .506 7.0

Mets 45 44 .506 7.0


Braves -

Phillies 4

Marlins 4 ½

Mets 4 ½

Astros 4 ½


Freestyler Xtreme
Pedro, Mets rain on Braves' parade
By Marty Noble / MLB.com

Mike Cameron's two-run homer was the highlight of the Mets' four-run second inning. (Kathy Willens/AP)

NEW YORK -- In 1984, after the Yankees' 104th game -- and 52nd victory -- their manager experienced a surge of satisfaction. Yogi Berra plopped down in his office chair, smiled and spoke a largely uncelebrated Yogi-ism: "Now that we're at .500," he said, "we need to stay there."
Alas, Berra's team ignored his directive and finished with a winning record.

Willie Randolph has made no such pronouncement in his first 92 games as Mets manager. He has grown weary of his team's inability to break free from the gravity of .500. In a wonderful analogy, he has identified the Mets' effort to this point as "moonwalking," and not the Neil Armstrong kind.

Without mimicking Michael Jackson, Randolph explained on Sunday that moonwalking is exactly what the Mets do.

"We only look like we're moving forward," said Randolph.

The manager made his point shortly after the Mets, appropriately, had split a four-game series with the Braves.

"One step forward, one step back," he said, reciting the formula.

The Mets may try variations on that theme from time to time, but their bottom line frequently cuts right through the middle, right at .500.

Indeed, their 8-1 victory -- a by-product of an "easy day at the office" for Pedro Martinez and a renaissance afternoon by Mike Cameron -- brought them back to a familiar statistical coordinate -- .500. Ninety-two games into the season, the Mets are at break-even for the 23rd time. And they never have been far from there, five games under (after their first five games) being their low point and four games over (31-27 on June 6) the high point.

To this point they've taken moderation to an extreme.

So it was on Sunday that Randolph and Cliff Floyd each verbally fantasized about what the Mets need.

"A nice little seven- or eight-game streak," said the manager.

Floyd dreamed bigger.

"Seven, eight or nine," he said.

And this for a team that immediately followed its longest losing streak (five games) with its longest winning streak (six).

But since their record stood at 6-5, the Mets have won no more than four straight games, and they did that once.

Now they have won one in a row and put themselves precisely where they were through 92 games last season, at .500. But last year that record tied them for third place in the National League East, three games out of first. Randolph's moonwalkers are tied for fourth -- and last -- seven games behind.

The greater and more encouraging difference, holdovers from last season say, is that this team is not likely to go South in the East, as its predecessor did. Those Mets were 47-47 on July 21, one day after the anniversary of Armstrong's "giant step," but they went into a steep descent and never saw .500 again.

"We don't expect that," said Cameron.

The Mets expect -- or fantasize about -- much more. And it's games such as their Sunday victory that fuel their vision. A Pedro start can prompt that sort of thinking.

Buoyed by an early five-run lead, Martinez (11-3) overwhelmed the Braves, surrendering a single and a double and striking out five in his abbreviated workday.

He could have done more. But why?

The Mets conceded little during their four-game series against the Braves, the team that has been their primary obstacle for years. But there were concessions to be made to other forces, notably the weather. To employ the hyperbole of players, the humidity was giving 110 percent. So the Mets unplugged their starting pitcher after a mere 61 pitches rather than sap him in the sauna.

Randolph said that he made the move partially because he wanted to see recently promoted reliever Juan Padilla and give Heath Bell some innings. But another benefit -- and perhaps the benefit -- of Martinez's early departure were the bullets not spent.

"He could have gone longer," said Randolph, "but why not save some bullets when you can? 'Cause later in the season, we may have to ask him for more. We're hoping it works out that way. We hope we get in position that we need Pedro to throw some big pitches."

Randolph didn't consult with Pedro.

"We talked in Spring Training," said the manager. "He told me, 'When you come out [to the mound], just take me out. I'll just want to stay in if you ask.' "

Martinez was gone before the seventh began, replaced by Padilla (one perfect inning), who then was replaced by Bell (who allowed the run) and Dae-Sung Koo.

But Pedro hardly was displeased.

"This is probably the only day I can say I had an easy day at the office -- and I deserved it," said Martinez. "It was an open game, nothing to panic about, so why not? [Randolph and pitching coach Rick Peterson] know what they're doing. And I could use the rest and be healthy in August and September when they really need to push me.

"My job was done. The other team was on their heels, we were winning the game and we had plenty of other guys who hadn't pitched who we'll need later on."

Martinez's workday was made easy early. The Mets -- who had scored once in the previous two games -- produced 13 hits, one more than they had in the successive losses. Cameron, Jose Reyes, David Wright and Chris Woodward had two hits each. One of Cameron's hits was a two-run home run, his 10th home run. The right fielder, hitless in 11 at-bats in the first three games, had three RBIs.

The Mets afforded Martinez a 5-0 lead after the first two innings, scoring once in the first and four times in the second against losing pitcher Mike Hampton (4-2), who was pitching for the first time since May 31. Hampton was gone before the third.

Reyes scored in the first inning on an infield out by Carlos Beltran. He had led off with a single and moved to third on a single by Cameron.

A leadoff single by Wright, his fifth hit in 11 at-bats in the series, initiated the rally in the second. Wright moved to third on a double by Woodward and scored on Miguel Cairo's Baltimore Chop. After Martinez struck out, Reyes drove in Woodward with a double, and Cameron hit his 10th home run, his fourth this month.

Beltran produced a second RBI in the fourth with a sacrifice fly against Roman Colon, and the Mets scored twice in the seventh when Cameron had his third hit, an RBI single, and Jose Offerman delivered his seventh hit in 11 pinch-hit at-bats since joining the Mets on June 26. It was his sixth pinch-hit RBI in those 11 at-bats.

"We have so many more weapons now than we had last year," said Floyd. "That's why we think we can go further. We've got Pedro and Carlos and Roberto Hernandez. But we've got Cairo and a better bench. ... That makes it so hard to be stuck. It's a shame we're at .500.

"To be honest, I think we should be way past it by now. But we have time to get going. No one is running away with our division. So .500 or not, we still have a shot."


Freestyler Xtreme

Chris Woodward's walk-off homer marked the 10th time the Mets won in their final at-bat. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

Pinch of Woodward spices Mets win
Supersub connects for walk-off blast in 11th inning
By Marty Noble / MLB.com

NEW YORK -- The Mets wanted Chris Woodward because of his versatility and reliability. And Woodward wanted the Mets because of the opportunity -- a chance to play in New York, a chance to play in the National League, the league that affords its reserves more of a chance.
But there were the Mets on Tuesday night, 1 1/2 innings into overtime, and Woodward had done nothing but spectate. They and the Padres had pushed their game into the 11th inning, pushed themselves to the point of near exhaustion in the most energy-sapping conditions. And Woodward, always looking for a chance, had found none.

Even after David Wright had been retired for the first out in the 11th inning and the pitcher's spot was on deck, Willie Randolph didn't call on Woodie. As Mike Piazza walked to the plate, Gerald Williams moved to the on-deck circle and Woodward remained seated.

Woodward understood. Randolph didn't want to burn his last infielder. "The way this game was going," Woodward said, "we could have been out there for 18."

But when Piazza singled off Chris Hammond, Randolph wanted a pinch-runner, and he chose Williams. Either Woodward or Ramon Castro would have to bat for Braden Looper. Randolph chose Woodward even though Castro would have to take Piazza's place if this one stretched into the 12th, even though his choice left him no position players.

"That kind of put the onus on me to end it right there," Woodward would say later, explaining his motivation.

Randolph essentially had forced Woodward to be a hero. And Woodward responded, hitting the two-run, last-pitch home run that allowed the Mets to go home as happy as they were weary. With a measured swing at Hammond's misplaced fastball, Woodward changed a tie score into a 3-1 victory against the first-place Padres, changed a draining and frustrating evening into a rewarding, uplifting night and once again prompted the Mets to think, "OK, now we've got something."

"We've got to get rolling," Randolph said. "You hope this is the kind of game that gets you rolling."

The Mets hardly were rolling until Woodward hit his third home run. To that point, the sum of their offense had been one swing by Cliff Floyd as he led off the fifth inning against Brian Lawrence. Floyd's 23rd home run -- it collided with the scoreboard -- was in direct response to the leadoff home Khalil Green had hit against Kris Benson in the Padres' half of the fifth.

Zeros presided otherwise.

The Mets had runners in scoring position with less than two outs in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings. They had two runners after two out in the 10th. "We waited till someone wasn't in scoring position to knock one in," Randolph said as commentary, not as criticism.

The manager was pleased for his team, delighted for his hero.

Woodward has become a favorite, though Randolph eschews words that suggest anything other than objective decision-making on his part. But when Randolph discusses how he makes out his lineup, he often mentions Woodward and how he prefers to reward contributors by putting them in the lineup the next day.

Woodward never had won a game with a final-pitch at-bat -- not at any level of baseball. He had never hit a pinch-hit home run either. "I'd never run the bases with the other team walking off," he said. "Pretty cool. This one's right up there, right at the top for me."

He had hit three home runs in one game, with the Blue Jays in 2002. He twice tied the score and once gave the Jays a lead. But they lost. "This is better," he said.

He knew Hammond from the American League, knew that Stu Miller changeup, knew that he couldn't think home run with that kind of pitcher. "On the bench, I said to myself, 'It'd be cool to hit one.' But when I got in the box, I said, 'No way.'"

Hammond threw him a changeup for a strike and convinced him a home run was out of the question. The next pitch -- a cut fastball on the side half of the plate -- was out of the park.

The Mets had won in walk-off style for the fourth time, for the second via home run. Floyd's three-run home run against the Angels on June 11 was the first. They had won in their final at-bat for the 10th time. They had hit their fourth pinch-hit home run.

"It was everything I'd imagined and better," Woodward said. "I've won some games, but just with lousy doubles. I'm usually one of the guys slapping someone else's helmet at the plate after a game-winning homer. This time I got it. It's great. They let me have it. It felt good.

"But you know, my neck's a little sore."


Team W L PCT. GB

Nationals 54 40 .574 -

Braves 53 42 .558 1.5

Phillies 49 45 .521 5.0

Mets 47 46 .505 6.5

Marlins 46 46 .500 7.0


Team GB
Braves -
Phillies 3 ½
Cubs 4
Mets 5
Astros 5
Marlins 5 ½


Freestyler Xtreme

Mike Piazza is greeted by teammate Doug Mientkiewicz after his two-run homer. (Kathy Willens/AP)

Benson baffles Dodgers as Mets win
Starter delivers seven shutout innings in silencing Dodgers bats
By Marty Noble / MLB.com

NEW YORK -- The batted ball ricocheted off Kris Benson directly to third baseman David Wright, and Wright threw out Oscar Robles for the first out of the fourth inning. To that point on Sunday, the Dodgers had endured 10-up, 10-down misery. Shea Stadium began to anticipate the unprecedented.
Alas, the unprecedented remained the undone. Cesar Izturis, the following batter, bunted for a base hit, and the most conspicuous void in Mets history grew one day older and a tad more incongruous. But there were other zeroes for the Mets to celebrate on this Sunday afternoon.

Denied a no-hitter -- Benson didn't come that close, actually -- the Mets starter provided a brilliant performance, nonetheless, allowing only four hits in eight innings in the Mets' 6-0 victory. He provided quality and quantity on a day when they were of equal value to a team scheduled to play its next seven games in Coors Field and Minute Maid Park, stadiums that are as unfriendly to pitchers.

Benson did the Mets bullpen a solid, giving all but one of the relievers the day off. He acknowledged he hadn't intend to do so much of the heavy lifting, but by pitching so deep into his 16th start and throwing 125 pitches -- more than any Mets starter has this season -- he allowed Roberto Hernandez to remain seated, no small consideration for a 40-year-old power pitcher who has appeared in 44 of 98 games and is primarily responsible for the Mets' bullpen being an asset rather than the liability that had been anticipated.

Braden Looper did warm up, and Willie Randolph intended to use him in the ninth. But when the Mets scored twice in the eighth inning, Looper took a seat, and Aaron Heilman pitched the ninth.

So, as the Mets' primary relievers boarded buses for the team's charter flight to the Mile High City, they were relatively rested. And, like their teammates, they were pleased with how the weekend had played out.

The Mets had followed their sweep of the Padres with two victories in three games against the Dodgers. They have now won eight of 11 games and six of their last 10 series (one was a 2-2 split). They remain in fourth-place, a half-game behind the third-place Phillies, and have moved to within 3 1/2 games of the first-place Nationals and Braves.

Now they begin a series against the team with the lowest winning percentage (.351) in the National League, having raised their own record to four victories over .500 -- 51-47 -- for only the second time this season and the first time since June 7.

Benson (7-3) won for the first time in six starts, despite pitching well over that span, and the Mets won for the 12th time behind him. Two singles, Izturis' bunt and an infield hit by Jayson Werth, and the lone walk he allowed came in the fourth. There were isolated singles in the fifth and seventh innings. Benson struck out five, completing the eighth inning for the first time this season.

Mets starters have completed the eighth only 12 times this season. Pedro Martinez is responsible for five or the 12 instances; Victor Zambrano for four.

Chances are, the Mets starters in Denver -- Tom Glavine, Kaz Ishii and Zambrano -- won't be pitching so deep into their games. "But if we give them six [runs] in the first inning, it'll help," Mike Cameron said.

The Mets bats may not provide six runs early, but they have been more productive of late. Since scoring one run in two games against the Braves last weekend, they have scored 48 runs over their last seven games, almost seven runs per. It isn't a coincidence that the enhanced offense has coincided with increased production from Mike Piazza.

After a day off Saturday, Piazza had three hits, including a two-run home run and three RBIs on Sunday, all against losing pitcher Brad Penny, who lost for the seventh time in nine starts at Shea Stadium. Penny (5-6 overall and 2-9 against the Mets in his career) lasted six innings, surrendering eight hits.

The home run was Piazza's third in 24 career at-bats against Penny, his 12th of the season (his third since the All-Star break) and the 390th of his career. He and Graig Nettles are tied for 45th place on the all-time list.

Piazza had nine RBIs in 26 at-bats during this homestand. And now, he goes to Coors, where he has batted .388 with 16 home runs in 170 at-bats. Coors giveth and taketh.

Piazza's home run opened the scoring in the second inning. The Mets' runs in the third resulted from a one-out triple by Carlos Beltran, a double by Cliff Floyd (a straightaway fly ball center fielder Milton Bradley should have caught) and Piazza's hard single off the glove of second baseman Jeff Kent.

That hit, as much as the home run, signified Piazza's recent renaissance. When he handcuffs infielders, he's hitting as he did in 1999 and 2000.

"That's very cool to see," Floyd said of Piazza's heroics. "When he hits like that, he softens up pitchers and everyone else. He cracked that home run, and he singled. ... Look out. If he's gonna be doing this, look out. Coors Field better duck."

this homestand was a lot of fun...there was a lot of energy at the stadium..the mets were 5-1 and even gained some ground in the playoff race...this west coast trip is important, since they will be facing a pretty bad colorado team and a hot ouston one in hitters ballparks...bullpens need to have their A game...


Team W L PCT. GB

Braves 55 44 .556 -

Nationals 55 44 .556 -

Phillies 52 47 .525 3.0

Mets 51 47 .520 3.5

Marlins 49 47 .510 4.5


Team GB
Braves -
Nationals -
Phillies 3
Mets 3 ½
Astros 3 ½
Marlins 4 ½
Cubs 4 ½


Freestyler Xtreme

Mike Cameron walks back to his position after his seventh-inning strikeout. (David Zalubowski/AP)

Cameron, Mets endure tough night
Wright's roll continues; unearned runs spell trouble for Ishii
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com

DENVER -- Mike Cameron figured he'd lost enough on Tuesday night.
His New York Mets lost to the Colorado Rockies for the second straight night, this time 4-3 at Coors Field in front of 22,518. The National League East-contending Mets, who won six of seven before arriving in Denver, must win Wednesday night to avoid suffering a sweep at the hands of the team with the NL's worst record.

His 0-for-5 performance with four strikeouts -- the last three looking, and the last two in potential game-turning situations in the seventh and ninth innings -- pretty much tells you how he fared in his gamelong running, but quiet, argument with plate umpire Lance Barksdale.

He wasn't about to lose money to boot.

After what he called "one of the most frustrating, worst days," Cameron was much like he was during the game. He went into a PG-13 rant, but stopped short of the line he'd drawn for himself when discussing Barksdale's strike zone.

"It doesn't matter where his strike zone was," Cameron said. "It's about balls and strikes. Ah, we're not going to get into that. That's fine-type of [subject matter] there. He said they were strikes, I said they were balls. We had a disagreement. He had the right of way. I'll just chalk it up to a bad day at the office."

Cameron struck out swinging and looking against left-handed starter Jeff Francis (9-7). Former Met Mike DeJean left him looking at a 2-2 pitch with the bases loaded to end the seventh -- the only called strike three that Cameron acknowledged. "He made a good pitch, ain't nothing you can say about that," he said.

In the ninth, after Jose Reyes' RBI double off Colorado left-handed closer Brian Fuentes, the game ended when Cameron didn't swing at a Fuentes pitch and Barksdale called strike three.

Three of the strikeouts were against left-handed pitchers. Cameron had hit .364 with just eight strikeouts against southpaws before Tuesday.

"I'm sure TV can pick it up," Cameron said of his constant questioning of Barksdale. "I'm not going to try to show him up. But, you know what? I'm not going to make any excuses, but it makes it tough. You try to get a good ball to hit."

No one hit but David Wright -- who went 3-for-4 with a seventh-inning leadoff home run while extending his his streak to 13 games -- and Reyes, who went 2-for-4.

Manager Willie Randolph's best explanation of the sudden lack of hitting in a place where hits are usually abundant was the Colorado pitching. Jose Acecedo kept the Mets in check during Monday night's 5-3 defeat. On Tuesday, Francis held the Mets to two runs on seven hits.

The defense helped as well. Rookie first baseman Ryan Shealy, up from Triple-A because Todd Helton suffered a calf injury on Monday, started a nifty 3-6-3 double play to end the sixth. Shortstop Anderson Machado made up for a throwing error after Wright's homer by making a diving grab of a Chris Woodward liner immediately thereafter.

"When pitchers throw good-pitched games against you, they're going to make you look [bad]," Randolph said. "You can't always assume coming into Colorado that it's going to be a slugfest."

A Mets error set up the only big punch Colorado needed.

Woodward, a middle infielder by trade who was playing first and using teammate Doug Mientkiewicz's heavy trapper, let a Reyes throw from short bounce off the heel of his glove for an error. That let Eric Byrnes reach with two outs in the third. Shealy singled in a run, and Dustan Mohr launched a two-run shot of Kaz Ishii (7-8).

Randolph said he had talked to Reyes about easing up on his throws with Woodward at first, but Reyes didn't have much time and threw a fastball that tailed. But Woodward said, "He throws the ball pretty hard, but it made it in the air and I should have caught it."

Three of the four runs off Ishii in five innings were unearned, but Ishii said he should have closed the third inning.

"In that sense, I felt that I let my team down," Ishii said through an interpreter.

it has been tough to watch these games against colorado...although i missed most of them because of the late start...this was the perfect chance to catch up in the standings with the nationals and braves beating up on each other...instead the mets are against the wall on wednesday before they go to houston to face the wild car leaders and a HOT astros team...a win tonight and 3 out of 4 would bring balance to the mets as they go to shea but if they go 2-5 or worse on this road trip, i dont expect the mets to do much of anything the rest of this season...

it is still close and the next 3 teams they face are all in the playoff hunt (astros, brewers, cubs)...i am just happy to see the mets play some meaningful games this late in the season...


Team W L PCT. GB

Braves 56 44 .560 -

Nationals 55 45 .550 1.0

Phillies 52 49 .515 4.5

Mets 51 49 .510 5.0

Marlins 49 48 .505 5.5


Team GB
Nationals -
Astros 2
Phillies 3 ½
Mets 4
Cubs 4
Marlins 4 ½
Brewers 5 ½


Freestyler Xtreme
Mets working hard to get Soriano
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Star-Ledger Staff

NEW YORK -- The Alfonso Soriano talks heated up yesterday, and at one point Soriano got a call from his agent telling him to pack his bags because he was headed to the Mets.

Moments later, a person who spoke with Soriano said the Rangers' second baseman got another call telling him to hold off because the deal had hit a snag. A Mets official called a Soriano deal "a long shot," and Rangers owner Tom Hicks told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he didn't intend to deal Soriano.

But in spite of those public denials, which could be smoke screens designed to improve the teams' negotiating positions, it seemed clearer than ever that the Mets were working hard to get Soriano and the Rangers had decided to move him.

Two baseball officials close to the talks said discussions yesterday focused on Mets right-hander Aaron Heilman and Double-A Binghampton right-hander Yusmeiro Petit, but that the Mets might prefer to deal right-hander Victor Zambrano rather than Heilman.

Mets GM Omar Minaya and the rest of the front office is gathering in New York today for meetings that will last through the weekend, setting up a "war room" of sorts in advance of Sunday's 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline.

imagine soriano as a met? it would be a great line-up full of speed AND power..


Starting 5
Heilman or Zambrano (depending on who gets traded)

Set up
Roberto Hernandez

<span style='color:eek:rangered'><span style='font-size:15pt;line-height:100%'>Five MLB trades that need to happen </span></span>

Dayn Perry / Special to FOXSports.com
Posted: 9 hours ago

With the non-waiver trade deadline coming on Sunday, it's a frantic time of year around major league baseball.

Rumors and scuttle abound, and each and every team clamors to improve itself — either in the here and now or for the future.
The focus, of course, is on the contenders, those teams willing to mortgage forthcoming seasons for a shot at the World Series in 2005. So what should they be doing? What follows are five trades that should come to pass before time runs out on Sunday. They won't be ones you've heard about via the rumor mill, but they're deals that make sense for all parties involved

2. Mets acquire 1B Richie Sexson from Mariners
If the rumors are any guide, the Mets want to upgrade at second base before doing anything else. That would be a misplay on the part of GM Omar Minaya. The injury to grossly ineffective second baseman Kaz Matsui was actually a boon to the Mets. It gets Matsui off the field, and the Mets have plenty of internal options to replace him: Miguel Cairo, Marlon Anderson and Chris Woodward on the 25-man roster and Victor Diaz and Anderson Hernandez in the minors.

As for first base, the Mets have been making do with the likes of Doug Mienkiewicz and Jose Offerman. Not surprisingly, they haven't provided adequate production by first base standards. Shea is a brutal park for right-handed power hitters, but so is Safeco, where Sexson is slugging .512 on the season. On the road this year, Sexson is hitting a robust .302 AVG/.407 OBP/.581 SLG.

From Seattle's perspective, they get a mid-grade prospect or two out of the deal and get out from under the $40 million or so remaining on Sexson's contract

I just posted the Yankees and Mets part if you wanna see the others go to the link:



Freestyler Xtreme
The Cubs and Mets are playing with each other this weekend this should be good


[b said:
Quote[/b] (DJCaliente007 @ Aug. 01 2005, 6:53 pm)]The Cubs and Mets are playing with each other this weekend this should be good
Caliente... They are not playing "WITH" each other, they are playing "against" each other!



Freestyler Xtreme
lol thats not what i ment lol


Freestyler Xtreme

Ramon Castro (right) scored the game-tying run in the seventh on Marlon Anderson's single. (Kathy Willens/AP)

Resilient Mets rally for thrilling win
Piazza's bases-loaded walk in the 11th caps night of comebacks
By Marty Noble / MLB.com

NEW YORK -- For a moment or two Tuesday night, it was 1999 at Shea Stadium. Mike Piazza was a statue in the right-handed hitter's batter's box, standing motionless and locked in, still intent on making solid contact and producing a run when nothing more was needed. The Mets already had won, making his bat and all his good intentions superfluous.
Piazza was batting at 11:39 p.m. ET. His teammates were already celebrating their 11th-hour, 11-inning victory against the Brewers. The decisive run in their 9-8 victory had scored when Piazza walked with the bases loaded. But it was as if he hadn't noticed, as if he still were in batter mode.

"It was kind of weird," Piazza said.

Piazza reacted late Tuesday night as he had reacted to the final pitch of the Mets' final regular-season game of '99. Then, too, he was the Met of the moment, in position to assure his team of at least a tie for the Wild Card. Same batter's box as Tuesday night, and again, the winning run was on third base. Piazza was poised to be a hero. But Brad Clontz threw a pitch neither his catcher nor Piazza could reach. Piazza was denied. The Mets weren't, though.

He recalled the Clontz pitch Tuesday night, recalled how it had defused and confused him that Sunday afternoon. "I told David [Wright] it felt kind of the same," he said. "You're there, you're so intent. And then you do nothing, and it's over."

He smiled and spoke facetiously.

"This one's sweeter," Piazza said. "I didn't get the RBI on that one."

He had the chance only because the Mets had spent most of the evening flexing their resolve after the Brewers had spent most of the first two innings flexing their muscle. To reach the 11th inning, the Mets had to offset the four home runs the Brewers had hit in 10 at-bats against Victor Zambrano in the first two innings and the go-ahead home run Geoff Jenkins had hit against Roberto Hernandez in the ninth.

Moreover, they had to overcome Derrick Turnbow and wretched conditions they must have brought with them from Houston.

On this night, it was the 4 H's: hazy, hot, humid and home run. The Brewers hit five, the Mets two, including one by Mike Cameron -- it was the third of his four hits -- against Turnbow with one out in the ninth that tied the score at eight.

The Mets had overcome deficits of 3-0 after one inning and 6-2 after two, and tied the score at seven with three runs in the seventh inning. But Jenkins' second home run of the game put them in position to lose. Then, Cameron, who had been robbed of two doubles and, therefore, a six-hit night, struck. Turnbow had converted 15 consecutive save opportunities when Cameron hit his 11th home run.

Both teams threatened in the 10th inning, and the Brewers made the remnants of a crowd of 32,453 sweat even more in the 11th. But winning pitcher Braden Looper (4-4), who had pitched the 10th, struck out two with two runners on base.

The Mets then loaded the bases against losing pitcher Julio Santana (2-5) on a single by Wright, Cameron's fourth hit and the team's 18th, a single that seemed to pass through the glove of shortstop Bill Hall, and an intentional walk to Doug Mientkiewicz. Piazza then walked on four pitches, producing his fourth game-winning RBI in the Mets' last 22 games.

"I wish I could say there was some strategy involved," he said.

Santana overthrew, lost the plate and lost the game. Piazza stood still and nonetheless produced the Mets' seventh victory in eight home games, and helped them forget their disappointing road trip.

The Mets began their rally in the seventh after Hall had made a remarkable catch in center field to take a hit away from Cliff Floyd. Wright hit his 16th home run to right-center field off Justin Lehr, the Brewers' third pitcher. After a second out, Mientkiewicz doubled inside first base.

Ramon Castro, starting because he has been productive of late -- and because Piazza's back was sore -- drove in Mientkiewicz with a double and, after left-hander Jorge De La Rosa replaced Lehr, Marlon Anderson delivered Castro with a single, his 16th hit in 36 pinch-hit at-bats (.444). Anderson has the most pinch-hits by a Met since 2001, when Lenny Harris had 21.

All the offense -- the 18 hits constitute a season high -- were necessary because of Zambrano's meltdown. The Mets starter surrendered a two-run home run to Carlos Lee and a bases-empty home run to Jenkins in the first inning, marking the first time the Brewers had hit home runs in successive at-bats this season. The second time came in the second inning. The first two batters, Russell Branyan and Damian Miller, hit home runs.

After a single by Brady Clark, Zambrano hit Rickie Weeks. Then he hit the bricks, the 1 1/3-inning outing equaling the shortest of his career.

Zambrano, battered in his previous home start -- six runs and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings against the Dodgers on July 22 -- was gone after facing 11 batters. One of the outs he achieved was a caught stealing. He allowed seven hits overall, hit a batter and committed a balk. The Brewers slugging percentage against him was 1.900.

For it to be Zambrano surrendering four home runs was an aberration. As poorly as he has pitched at times this season, he seldom has been hurt by home runs. Indeed, he had allowed merely six in 116 2/3 innings before Tuesday night, and his average -- one home run allowed each 75 at-bats -- was the third-best in the National League. Only Roger Clemens (one per 101 at-bats) and Dontrelle Willis (one per 90 at-bats) were better.

Perhaps all that aberrational behavior was a result of the presence of Steve Trachsel, who four years ago surrendered four home runs in one inning. Trachsel was in the park Tuesday night, having returned from Port St. Lucie to throw a side session this week in preparation for a rehab start Saturday with the Double-A Binghamton Mets.

He pled innocent.

The Mets really hurt themselves playing as bad as they did on the road...they have a small homestand with the brewers and cubs and i expect atleast a 4-2 record before they go back on the road...the division is slowly becoming out of reach but the wild card is within their grasp..they need to play better on the road if they will have any chance of making a splash..this month will determine what if the mets are for real or just pretenders...


Team W L PCT. GB

Braves 62 45 .579 -

Nationals 56 50 .528 5.5

Marlins 54 50 .519 6.5

Phillies 55 52 .514 7.0

Mets 54 52 .509 7.5


Team GB
Astros -
Nationals 2
Marlins 3
Phillies 3 ½
Mets 4
Cubs 4


Freestyler Xtreme

Roberto Hernandez pitched all three games vs. the Brewers, allowing seven runs. (Julie Jacobsen/AP)

Mets' bullpen bows to Brewers in finale
Piazza drives in five, but series win escapes in final frame
By Ben Couch / MLB.com

NEW YORK -- Roberto Hernandez felt fine, physically.
He said it to Willie Randolph before Thursday's game, despite pitching in three straight contests. And then Hernandez repeated it to a horde of reporters after giving up five runs in the top of the ninth, allowing the Brewers to come back and beat the Mets, 12-9, at Shea Stadium.

"I feel fine," Hernandez said. "I just made bad pitches in bad locations. Nobody feels worse than I do right now for this club. The way they battled today and put up runs, for me to have this performance out there was pretty [unacceptable].

"If I feel the same way tomorrow, I'll tell Willie I feel fine," he added. "You worry about tomorrow when it gets there."

Randolph reflected his pitcher's attitude. The manager said that the Mets don't have enough leeway to be saving pitchers, and that he's going to go with his best guys in big spots.

"The bullpen guys always have to be ready," Randolph said. "Bert said he was good, and he's been good for us all year. He's been struggling a little the last few games, not being able to hold it down. But he's done a great job for me all year, and I'll go to him again."

Randolph indicated before the game that he wanted to avoid using Hernandez if possible, but starter Kris Benson pitched only five innings. A slew of Mets relievers followed and took a 9-7 lead into the ninth only because the offense kept providing more runs.

The four-hour, nine-minute contest, played in oppressive heat and later, pouring rain, equaled the longest nine-inning game in franchise history.

The bullpen blowup made moot strong performances by Mike Piazza, who went 3-for-5 with a double, a home run and five RBIs, and Carlos Beltran, who homered and scored three runs.

Piazza's stellar showing extended his recent surge. In his last 11 starts, Piazza is 15-for-39 (.385) with four home runs, three doubles and 14 RBIs.

"It's a wave and you try to ride it as long as you can, and if something gives you trouble you go back to the drawing board," Piazza said. "I've been taking good swings, seeing the ball well and getting in good hitting counts. Hopefully, it will continue."

The Mets are hoping Benson's recent slump does not. The pitcher turned in a second consecutive poor performance, allowing six runs and 11 hits in five innings Thursday after giving up five runs in 5 1/3 innings July 29 against the Astros.

Benson tersely described what went wrong, saying that his changeup wasn't working. Piazza furthered that, saying that Benson couldn't throw his changeup or breaking pitch for strikes.

But Randolph isn't fazed by Benson's recent performances, and he isn't seeking any quick fixes.

"I don't think anything's really wrong," Randolph said. "Obviously, when you don't make pitches, that's the main thing. I'm not going to analyze the fact that he's had a couple of tough outings. He's pitched well for us all year. That happens sometimes, and you have to get back on track."

The same can be said for the Mets, who find themselves at .500 again, like a tetherball winding away from its pole before circling back and returning to rest.

The game itself played out like a tetherball match, but one that ended with the Mets getting smacked in the face by an opponent's counterstrike.

The Brewers scored three runs off Benson in the third, but the Mets quickly responded with three of their own on home runs by Beltran and Piazza. They added three more in the fourth, when David Wright walked with the bases loaded and Piazza followed with a two-run single.

The Brewers tied the game with three runs in the fifth, but a prodigious Mike Cameron solo home run in the sixth -- it bounced off the top of the camera scaffolding behind the center-field fence -- broke the tie, and Piazza singled in another run to put the Mets up, 8-6.

Each team scored a run in the eighth, setting up Hernandez's fateful entry into the game. The Brewers twice reeled off three consecutive hits against Hernandez, who allowed six hits and five runs in the inning. One out came on a sac bunt and another when Rickie Weeks was thrown out at the plate.

The three-game series with the Brewers left the Mets drained, but Randolph was resolute and ready to move on.

"I don't assume the guys aren't going to bounce back," he said. "We've done that all season, so we'll do it again. I look forward to the Cubs."

This was a series that the Mets had to win...unfortunately they lost 2 games they had leads in coming into the late innings and both times Beltran had a chance to redeem himself and did not...
Randolph's manager abilities have been questioned...and beltran's lack of toughness have earned him a few boos...if they can get 2 of 3 from the cubs they could be in decent shape as they go to the west...esily the weakest division in the NL, maybe a few games against san diego and los angeles will get them feeling good...right now they NEED to win the cubs series if they want any chance at a wild card...i dont think they have a chance at the division at this point...


Team W L PCT. GB

Braves 63 46 .578 -

Nationals 58 50 .537 4.5

Phillies 57 52 .523 6.0

Marlins 55 51 .519 6.5

Mets 54 54 .500 8.5


Team GB
Astros -
Nationals 1
Phillies 2 ½
Marlins 3
Mets 5
Cubs 5
Brewers 5 ½