2005 NEWS

2005 News > 7/30/05


By Marty Noble, MLB.com

HOUSTON -- Less than 90 minutes after the Mets' pursuit of a trade for Manny Ramirez fell through, the team that so often has struggled offensively this season completed another disappointing performance at the plate and underscored the very need general manager Omar Minaya had tried to address in trade. On this Saturday, the Mets came away with no Manny and no runs.

Loosely translated, their final totals meant this: "Help!"

As if Minaya hadn't received the message often enough in his team's first 103 games, the Mets sent it again as they suffered a shutout at the hands of Andy Pettitte and Brad Lidge. The Astros, the most torrid team in the game, beat them, 2-0, for the third time in three games and placed the Mets in danger of a four-game sweep and at a perilous point in their season.

The Mets are five games from the leaders in the National League Wild Card race, those leaders being these surging Astros, and they have to face Roy Oswalt on Sunday before they return to their sanctuary, Shea Stadium. Self-doubt is creeping into the Mets clubhouse along with the first signs of finger-pointing.

Tom Glavine, the pitcher of record in the Mets' fifth loss in six games on this trip, was disappointed by the defeat and irritated by some of the reactions to losing he witnessed, though he limited himself to observing, "Not enough guys are [angry] that we lost."

But the words of a veteran with Glavine's resume carry weight. He needn't have said much more.

Glavine had pitched at a level that would have produced victories in about a dozen of his 21 previous starts, surrendering only one run, on a homer by Jason Lane. But Pettitte pitched well enough during his eight innings to win almost any start. The Mets managed merely three singles -- one by Glavine and two by Jose Reyes -- and two walks against the left-handed former Yankee who has won six straight decisions to put his record at 9-7.

Lane led off the seventh inning with his 16th home run, only the eighth home run Glavine has allowed in 128 innings, hitting Glavine's first pitch which, in a different sense, was Glavine's third pitch -- a curve. "I don't know that it was the smartest thing in the world to do -- to guess curveball from me," Glavine said. "Not too many guys get in the box and look for a curveball from me. But he guessed right."

Glavine (7-9) didn't second-guess his pitch selection. "I'll take solo home runs all day long," he said. "Solo home runs shouldn't beat you, especially one."

The Astros scored their second run in the eighth inning on a soft, bases-loaded single to left by Morgan Ensberg against Braden Looper, who was pitching for the first time in seven days. The way the Mets offense has produced on this trip, that run all but assured the Astros of their seventh straight victory and their 13th victory in 14 games, and the Mets of another day -- their 25th this season -- at .500.

The Mets scored nine runs against the Rockies on Wednesday night when they won for the only time since leaving Shea Stadium last Sunday. They have scored 10 runs in the five losses. The shutout was the ninth against them, the sixth in the road. They have lost 31 of 51 road games overall and any semblance of the good feelings they had on Sunday afternoon when their record stood at 51-47. They are a last-place team again, even if their record is .500.

"We can pick it up when we go home, I guess," Cliff Floyd said, aware of Sunday's series finale, but acknowledging that playing three games in a city "makes you feel that the series is done."

Perhaps the Mets were ready to fly home before they returned to their hotel. Perhaps they were distracted by all the talk of acquiring Ramirez. "Whatever it is, we have to get over it and try get this straightened out," Floyd said. "We thought we got to that point before we left. Now, we have to do it again. It's disappointing."

But it's not, Glavine said, surprising. "I wish it was, but we've done this kind of thing all year," he said. "We do something good, and we take a step backwards. That pretty much explains why we're at .500.

"We have enough talent here to win. We have the people here to win the Wild Card, [even] the division. But we're not getting it done. I know we want to win. It would help if we had more guys who got mad when we didn't."

Glavine knows tearing apart the clubhouse isn't going to help. Or is it? "I don't know," he said, putting his index finger a half-inch from his thumb. "I came this close."