My god, it must not be easy existing as a Mets fan. Do they ever have an easy win? Did they exhaust their supply of those during their 9-1 homestand, back in April?
But, as I wrote, the Mets should feel good about themselves for the moment. Their best players - like Jason Bay - are finally performing like their best players, and we'll see how we feel come late Thursday night, but the Mets' current four-man rotation (doable because of today's off day) of Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi feels like an upgrade without John Maine or Oliver Perez, with Jon Niese perhaps back from the disabled list in another week.
Maine and Perez seemed to be dragging the team down not only with their incompetence, but also because their starts offered such uncertainty. Consider that, of a combined 16 starts, Maine (six of nine) and Perez (four of seven) managed to make it through five innings in just 10. That's just not good for a team's mental health.
Neither Dickey nor Takahashi is anything approaching an ace, but both guys seem capable of at least keeping the Mets in a ballgame more often than five out of eight times.
So now Jerry Manuel gets to enjoy his day off, and we'll see how the Mets look after their home series against the Phillies. Alas, even if they play well, disaster only seems a turn away, always, with these guys.
--Ryota Igarashi, in his return, was asked to get three outs before he allowed five runs last night, a seemingly easy task even against the Yankees. But Manuel had to lift him for Francisco Rodriguez, the right move. And whatever we think of K-Rod in the big picture, he did contribute a very important last two days.
As for Igarashi? Manuel attributed the performance to the "anxiety" of returning. We'll see. The Mets really need him to fill the eighth-inning role, and if Jenrry Mejia then becomes the seventh inning guy, well...he still should be starting in the minors. Yet being the seventh-inning guy at least would present an upgrade over...whatever he was before that. The plucky comic relief?
--A handful of Mets and Yankees knew Jose Lima well, and Kimberley Martin wrote this great appreciation of him.
--I noticed that, for this upcoming series against the Phillies, the Mets' scheduled starting pitchers have the ERA edge in all three games Jaime Moyer (4.30) vs. Dickey (3.00), Joe Blanton (5.06) vs. Takahashi (2.53), Cole Hamels (3.92) vs. Pelfrey (2.86).
Interesting, I thought, even with the acknowledgment of sample sizes, Dickey's in particular. But what about our new, improved measures of pitcher's success?
Using ERA+, particularly relevant since it considers ballparks and Citizens Bank Park is a far more challenging environment for pitchers than Citi Field, we get Moyer (99) vs. Dickey (146), Blanton (85) vs. Takahashi (165) and Hamels (109) vs. Pelfrey (145).
How about xFIP which attempts to block out the "noise" of defense's impact on pitching numbers, and also normalizes home run per flyball rates? We get Moyer (4.33) vs. Dickey (5.37), Blanton (4.57) vs. Takahashi (3.56) and Hamels (3.63) vs. Pelfrey (4.01). Not as encouraging for the Mets.
But at least the Mets avoid Roy Halladay, whom the Red Sox smoked yesterday.
--As for the Yankees, CC Sabathia didn't pitch well. It happens. Bay is a pretty good hitter. And shoot, for $2 million, Alex Cora should come up with at least one or two big hits in a season, right?
Joe Girardi seemed upset, but not that upset, really. The Yankees know they have an excellent starting rotation, and Curtis Granderson appears on his way to rejoining the team, as soon as Friday back home against Cleveland.
Of course they'd rather not be six games behind the Rays. Yet at this time of year, you can't worry about that stuff, particularly when you lead in the wild-card race.
--Terrible job by Francisco Cervelli, not running out his disputed home run that turned into a single. Although, I admit, I didn't understand the Citi Field ground rules. Interesting that if the ball hits the orange line and then goes back into play, it's not a homer.
--Here are the latest playoff odds, and then the PECOTA version. Both versions like the Yankees and dislike the Mets plenty to make the playoffs. The Dodgers perform much better through PECOTA. Of course, at this time of year, one great or horrible week can blow up those odds for any one team.
--Interleague play is a bit of a mess, Anthony Rieber writes. But Bud Selig isn't particularly concerned about the integrity of the schedule as long as series like Yankees-Mets and Cubs-White Sox - actually, the Yankees draw fans wherever they go - produce huge revenue.
--That's right, live chat at noon. How much will the Monday timing influence the GORC (Grumpiness Over Replacement Chat) factor for me, the questioners and the moderator? Will the Live Chat MVP simply be the most cheerful person? Stop by and find out.
--And one more self-promotion: I'll be on NY1 at 11:30 tonight, discussing the Subway Series and what lies ahead.