Things are starting to feel familiar with the Mets. Paul LoDuca - healthy. Moises Alou - healthy. Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado - healthy...and possibly breaking their slumps.
And now...Pedro Martinez*. Pedro* made his season debut Monday in Cincinnati, and got the win for the Mets. He went 5 innings, sticking to his 75-pitch limit, giving up 3 runs (2 earned), 3 walks, and striking out 4.
Pedro* got support from homers by Moises Alou and David Wright, and he pitched a good game. It was a far cry from his last outing, last year against Pittsburgh. And while it was also a far cry from his heydey with the Expos and Red Sox, it showed he still knows how to win. (Also, the Mets owe him 5 inning wins - heaven knows there have been plenty of games in a Mets uniform where Pedro* has gone 7 or 8 stellar innings and had to leave with a loss or no decision.)
Pedro* also picked up his 3,000th career strikeout in the second inning. That was one of the milestones that was highlighted at the beginning of the season - which seems so far away. Pedro Martinez*, 2 strikeouts away from 3,000 career. He finally got that milestone. And I find this hard to believe - but Pedro* is now one of three pitchers who has more strikeouts than innings pitched. There's a certain minimum requirement to make that stat work - I forget what it is - I saw it during the Reds' broadcast of this game.
As for the Mets overall, it's pretty amazing that they are in such a comfortable position. The school year is getting back into full swing, so I wasn't able to write about the 4-game sweep by the Phillies last week. The Mets looked like they were undisciplined (Marlon Anderson throwing an elbow at Chase Utley trying to break up a double play was unnecessary and stupid, costing the Mets one of those Philly games), and they looked like they were in serious trouble. Then they went to Atlanta, where they have so much trouble, and they swept the Braves. Now, I think, there's no looking back. Until they play the Phillies and Braves again - they're the only teams that give the Mets any trouble.
The Mets are sitting pretty. Magic Number = 21. The Mets are 5 up on Philadelphia (that's back from 2 at the end of the sweep), and 7 and a half on the Braves. The Braves are playing the Phillies the next couple of days - we'll just keep rooting for Atlanta, and watch the lead increase even more as the Mets take on the struggling Reds.
MEANWHILE, AT JOHNNYJETS.BLOGSPOT.COM: I have posted my season picks for the Jets. I'll keep you updated on my postings over there through this site. Just click on the link at the right so you don't have to type in the whole address.