The Mets control their fate this week. They can put away the Phillies and the Braves with a good stretch of road games (their strength this year), and use the month of September to set up their pitching rotation for the post-season. Or, they can play like they did Monday night and make sure that September is filled with competitive baseball right up until the last day of the season.
The Phillies took it to the Mets in the first game of the big 7-game road trip through Philadelphia and Atlanta. The Phillies pounded out 9 runs on 18 hits en route to a 9-2 win. But they still don't scare me.
The Mets now have Tom Glavine, Oliver Perez, and Orlando Hernandez in their next three games against the Phillies. And while the Phillies have done well against the Mets this year, none of their wins have come as lopsided as Monday's - and that was against Brian Lawrence. He's got a grand total of about one start left with the Mets this year, if everyone stays healthy.
A split in Philly for the Mets is good - it means the Phillies pick up zero ground. The Mets just have to win one game to see their magic number decrease by two (it's at 28 right now - with 32 games to go). Then it would be nice to see the Mets take a series from Atlanta this year - but to be honest - if the Braves keep beating them two out of three, all they're picking up is one game at a time.
Bottom line - this is a big week for the Mets. But it's a crucial week for the Phillies and Braves.
PEDRO* REHAB UPDATE: I mentioned above that this might be the second-to-last start for Brian Lawrence, and that's because there should just be one more rehab start for Pedro Martinez* before he rejoins the Mets. Pedro* pitched for St. Lucie again on Monday night, and had his best outing yet - he went 6 innings, giving up 5 hits, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts, and one unearned run. Expect him back for the Astros series around September 7th.
OTHER INJURY NEWS: The Mets are near completely healthy. Paul LoDuca was back in the lineup Monday night, and Endy Chavez will be back most likely Tuesday, although the Mets could wait for September 1st to make their roster move. Also worth noting - the Phillies are healthy, too, as they got Shane Victorino back over the weekend, and Chase Utley was back on the field Monday night against the Mets. Utley picked up where he left off with his bat, too, getting three hits, including a homer.
THIS WEEK: Coming this week on johnnymets.blogspot.com:
-I saw my first Mets game of the season Friday night against the Dodgers, and sat where I never sat before. I'll have that, plus a look at the CitiField construction.
-Sunday I attended a sporting event I never attended before. I'll tell you what it was, who won, and why I'll be going back.