The Mets will have to limp back home to New York on Friday after losing, 12-8, their fourth game in a row and their third game against the St. Louis Cardinals for a series sweep.
Once again, the Mets starting pitching failed them, putting them into a hole from which they could not recover. Livan Hernandez did not make it out of the fifth inning, giving up seven runs on nine hits, including three home runs, two by Albert Pujols.
The Cardinals pounded the Mets pitchers all afternoon. It was like batting practice for them. Even Sean Green was tagged for five earned runs. Jerry Manuel must have wanted to preserve the rest of the bullpen because after the Cardinals put up a four spot on Green in the sixth inning, he sent him out for the seventh where he gave up another run. You would think Manuel would have pulled him in the sixth after a couple of runs scored.
The Mets again had their chances to score and were helped out by two balks by Cardinals pitchers. But some really good Cardinals defense stood in the way.
The lineup change seemed to have helped as Carlos Beltran, who batted third, went 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBI. On the flip side, David Wright had a good day as well as he had two hits and drove in a run. Ryan Church had two hits and hit his first home run of the young season.
Yet the Mets are still struggling in bases-loaded situations. Gary Sheffield, who started in place of Daniel Murphy in left field, grounded into a double play and didn’t get a hit all game. Manuel said he wanted to give Sheffield some playing time, but he hasn’t warranted it. Sheffield’s batting average is down to .111. Ironically, Fernando Tatis, who should be given his shot, has the same average. But’s appeared in only five games with seven at-bats. He is being criminally underused so far.
Now, the Mets have to hope their ace can be the stopper against the even lowlier Washington Nationals. Johan Santana will face the Nationals’ Scott Olsen, who is 0-2 with a 9 ERA.
It’s the perfect timing for a series against the worst team in Major League Baseball. It’s the perfect remedy for what is ailing the Mets. What better way to rebound from a series sweep than to sweep a team yourself and get momentum back on your side. Nothing less than a series win should be deemed as a failure and would prompt some serious talk about a shakeup.