MIAMI _ If one couldnâ€™t see a problem with John Maine by how his pitches were smoked, one definitely sensed his anguish if they could read lips.
Sometime this afternoon, we might find out the Metsâ€™ distress level when they get the results from Maineâ€™s MRI exam.
Maine, who reported soreness in his right shoulder prior to the game, left with stiffness in it during the fifth inning of last nightâ€™s 7-3 loss to the Florida Marlins.
“I said I was sore, but capable of pitching,â€™â€™ said Maine.
That was good enough for the Mets to give him the ball, but by the fourth inning pitching coach Dan Warthen was growing concerned.
The Mets let him go out for the fifth, but quickly knew he wouldnâ€™t finish.
“I didnâ€™t like that his arm angle dropped,â€™â€™ Warthen said of Maineâ€™s body language, figuring compensation for the shoulder could lead to problems elsewhere. “We were worried he might blow out his elbow.â€™â€™
Warthen, who said the discomfort is not in the rotator cuff area, verbally sparred with the pitcher in the dugout after he was pulled, telling him the team wasnâ€™t going to take the chance.
Thatâ€™s what manager Jerry Manuel told Maine during an animated discussion on the mound.
“Iâ€™m fine,â€™â€™ Maine told Manuel.
“No, youâ€™re not fine,â€™â€™ Manuel shot back before pulling the pitcher moments after giving up a home run to John Baker and a long fly to opposing pitcher Ricky Nolasco.
Angry in front of the lip readers on television, Maine played the good soldier later.
“I felt some soreness,â€™â€™ Maine said about being pulled after 4 1/3 innings. “I thought I could pitch through it, but they were protecting me.â€™â€™
Maine expressed optimism he would make his next start this weekend at Houston, but Manuel wasnâ€™t making any promises.
“If there is any pain,â€™â€™ Manuel said. “John Maine will miss a start.â€™â€™
Maine said heâ€™s felt some soreness for a little while, but it isnâ€™t related to the dead arm feeling he had, June 30, at St. Louis.
The Mets have off days Thursday and next Monday, so even if Maine doesnâ€™t pitch, they can juggle their rotation without bringing up help from the minor leagues.
The Mets gave Maine a 2-0 lead in the second on Fernando Tatisâ€™ RBI triple and Damion Easleyâ€™s single.
However, Bakerâ€™s homer on the first pitch after Manuel opted to leave in Maine sliced the Metsâ€™ lead to 2-1 in the fifth, and the Marlins tied it in the sixth off Carlos Muniz on Cody Rossâ€™ single.
That would be the first of six runs given up by the bullpen in 3 2/3 innings.
Muniz didnâ€™t help himself when he couldnâ€™t get over to cover first on Josh Willinghamâ€™s infield hit in the sixth.
The Mets regained the lead, 3-2 in the eighth on Tatisâ€™ run-scoring grounder, but the bullpen imploded for five runs in the bottom of the inning.
The Marlins quickly tied it, 3-3, against Joe Smith on Willinghamâ€™s double and Dan Ugglaâ€™s single.
Enter Scott Schoeneweis, who gave up a single to Wes Helms that put runners on the corners.
Rossâ€™ single gave the Marlins the lead for the first time, and Bakerâ€™s infield hit loaded the bases.
Schoeneweis then wild-pitched in a run before giving up a two-run double to Robert Andino.
By this time, the Maine had left the bench and his shoulder was packed in ice and the Mets had something else to worry about.