David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.
In Terry Collins' words, the Mets got their "rear ends handed to them" by Roy Halladay and his Philly pals in Thursday's 11-0 loss at Citizens Bank Park. That probably made for an uncomfortable bus ride home to New York, but the Mets' .500 performance (3-3) on this road trip should have alleviated some of that sting.
Could have been better? Don't get greedy. How do you think the Rays and Red Sox are feeling as they return home winless (0-6) for their big festivities?
"We'll just regroup," Collins said, "and now we'll finally have some people cheering for us -- instead of booing us."
Don't be so sure of that, Terry. There tends to be a mixture of both in Flushing, depending on how the day unfolds, but the Mets definitely helped their cause by jettisoning Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo long before the Citi Field opener. As for the 3-3 trip, we'll call it a split decision, and here's how the judges saw it.
R.A. Dickey's opening statement Sunday in Florida showed he could wind up being one of the biggest bargains in the sport by the time his two-year, $7.8- million contract is up. The Marlins were clueless against his modified, multi-speed knuckler, and he's the perfect choice to please the home crowd Friday. "It's a tremendous honor," Dickey said. "But it's also an important day because we lost two in a row and all my teammates are looking to me for a big start."
Not only are David Wright and Jose Reyes on the field together, they're off to decent starts, which is crucial with Jason Bay rehabbing a left rib-cage strain in Florida. Wright is hitting .346 (9-for-26) with a .393 on-base percentage, two doubles, a home run and five RBIs. He's also batting .429 (3-for-7) with runners in scoring position. As for Reyes, he looks faster than ever and is tied with Wright for the team lead with nine hits. Also, with two hits off Halladay, he's up to .310 (9-for-29).
The Mets didn't win a road series last season until June 13 in Baltimore and waited until Aug. 21 for their first series victory over a National League club, albeit the Pirates. Getting that out of the way on the first weekend, over an NL East rival, provided some early momentum -- and stopped those questions in a hurry.
Francisco Rodriguez has seemed like a Mets outsider ever since the family-room assault of last August, and this week didn't do much to change that. K-Rod blew his only save opportunity Saturday in a game the Mets rallied to win and was used in the eighth inning of a loss. "It's strange," he said. "I haven't got any kind of rhythm yet. I've just got to be patient for when the next chance comes." On the plus side for K-Rod, he did get a finish, knocking his magic number down to 54 for his 2012 option to kick in.
The Mets' outfield, which two months ago shaped up as a potential strength, is looking a bit ragged, with the exception of Angel Pagan. Bay finally began swinging a bat Thursday, but there's no definite date for his return. Carlos Beltran remains a work in progress, and Collins has employed a "two-on, one- off" schedule for him. Willie Harris cooled after a big weekend and Daniel Murphy somehow wound up in leftfield Thursday. Not good.
It didn't get much worse this week than Mike Pelfrey. The only pitcher who made two starts should have been the one skipped; the Mets' supposed No. 1 heads home with a 15.63 ERA and a crisis of confidence. To Friday's ticket-holders: Have mercy on Big Pelf during the introductions at Citi Field.