Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mets make history, still lose. We've seen this before

I have to admit that early in Wednesday night's game against Washington, as R.A. Dickey was baffling the Nationals, I thought, "It would be fitting that the first no-hitter in Mets history is thrown by R.A. Dickey."

Not Seaver. Not Koosman. Not Matlack. Not Gooden. Not Darling. Not Viola. Not Leiter. Not Santana. R.A. Dickey.

That didn't last long, but the Mets did have a history-making night, getting a triple play and an inside-the-park home run in the same game, both instigated by Angel "Carlos Who?" Pagan. Of course, the Mets forgot to win the game, giving up three runs in the eighth; that trend of late-inning giveaways is as disturbing as David Wright's strikeout frequency.

It reminded me, on a much smaller scale, of another historic Mets game that ended in a loss: Game Seven of the 2006 NLCS, when Endy Chavez made one of the greatest post-season catches of all-time in perhaps the most gut-wrenching loss in team history.

Then there was the Grand Slam Single, which ended one of the greatest Mets games ever, in a series that the team ultimately lost.

The point is, we should be used to seeing the Mets do wonderful things and still lose. It's our lot in life. Which makes me think that when the Mets do finally get a no-hitter, it will be in a 1-0 loss where the other team scores on a walk, a stolen base plus a throwing error, and a sac fly. Mark it down.

This loss to the Nationals was typical in that bad luck again played a role. Just as the Braves' inability to bunt led to a win, the Nationals got the go-ahead run in after a lucky check-swing grounder made its way down the left field line for a double. A productive out and a sac fly later, the Nats had the lead, then tacked on more runs against the declining Fernando Nieve.

But what if Bernardina's check swing rolls foul? The world will never know.

Nieve is clearly on the downswing, which may or may not be related to his heavy workload, but until Igarashi comes back, other than Jennry Mejia -- who has had his own issues -- there's no other righty for Manuel to go to in the late innings.

A bullpen of Nieve, Takahashi, Igarashi and Feliciano leading to K-Rod would be just fine for the seventh and eighth innings, except Igarashi isn't back yet and Takahashi is now starting.

Maybe, when Jon Niese returns from the DL, Dickey should be given that fifth spot in the rotation. Leave Takahashi in the pen, where he's done so well, send Mejia down to be a starter again. Dickey showed enough Wednesday night, and the nice thing about knuckleballers is that they have no pitch count.

And if Dickey falters, the Mets can bring up Dillon Gee, or Pat Misch, or whoever -- but it's clear that Omar Minaya absolutely has to trade for a starting pitcher as soon as he can pull off a deal if the Mets are going to have any chance at staying competitive. (That, and Jose Reyes needs to starting hitting soon. Like, immediately.)

It's the one critical move he did not make in the off-season, and it is such a glaring omission that one has to wonder whether ownership just wouldn't allow him to spend any more money after signing Jason Bay.

John Maine goes against the unbeatable Luis Atilano Thursday night, before the injury-depleted Yankees limp into Citi Field for the weekend set.

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