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Mets (7-6) vs Nationals (4-11) 7:10 PM


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The plan had been to rely on Johan Santana and Pedro Martinez, and ride the two veteran pitchers with Cy Young resumes to the postseason. The plan was obliterated before the Mets even set foot in Shea Stadium, when Martinez suffered a strained left hamstring. And after three starts, two of them effective performances, Santana has a 1-2 record and the unwanted memory of a rude sendoff in his first home start.


And which pitcher has distinguished himself most in the first 17 days and 13 games of the season? The man thought to be least likely to do so, Mike Pelfrey. When he shut out the Nationals for seven innings Tuesday night -- it was the first scoreless start and longest start of his career -- Pelfrey became the first Mets pitcher to win two games. And he set the bar for the other starters.


His buddy, John Maine, followed Wednesday night with an effective, if blemished, start and his first victory. And Nelson Figueroa, Martinez's understudy, makes his second start Thursday night in the final game of a three-game series against the Nationals and the final game of the longest homestand of the season -- nine games.


Pelfrey and Figueroa constitute the coach section of the Mets' rotation. Santana and Martinez are first class. And Maine and Oliver Perez are in between, business class if you will. Take the metaphor one seat assignment further: Pelfrey is the one most likely to upgrade this season.


And as high as the Mets' regard for Maine and Perez is, there are members of the club's hierarchy who believe Pelfrey has the highest ceiling.


"We're just starting to see it, I think," general manager Omar Minaya said Tuesday. "His pitches have so much movement. He has so much natural ability. There's so much to work with. And now, you can see he's starting to feel comfortable, like he belongs here.


"You have to be excited when you see him do that."

Pitching matchup

NYM: RHP Nelson Figueroa (1-0, 4.50 ERA)

Now that he has made his first start at a Met -- he beat the Brewers on Friday night -- Figueroa starts against a team he last faced when it operated out of Montreal in 2002. He was a Brewer then, and the opposing catcher was Brian Schneider.


WSH: LHP John Lannan (0-2, 6.75 ERA)

Lannan is the third left-handed starter to face the Mets in the three-game series, following Odalis Perez and Matt Chico. Manny Acta must think he knows something, though the Mets' record in games in which they have been opposed by a left-handed starter is now 5-1. Lannan is to make his third start -- the Nationals have scored a total of two runs in he first two -- with four days' rest, a first for him this season. He started against the Mets once last season and allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings.



According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Mets and the Braves are the only big league teams that have had identical outfield alignments in each game thus far -- from left to right, Jose Pagan, Carlos Beltran and Ryan Church for the Mets, and Matt Diaz, Mark Kotsay and Jeff Francoeur for the Braves. ... Billy Wagner, speaking after watching Duaner Sanchez pitch the ninth inning -- not a save situation -- Tuesaday night: "I've got it all laid out for the year. I'm going to make 12 appearances and have six saves." ... When the Shea scoreboard didn't post the velocity of Pelfrey's strikeout pitch against Nick Johnson in the third inning Tuesday, the press-box denizens assumed the number was 42. Everything else was. ... Everyone on the Mets looked like either Butch Huskey or Ron Hodges on Tuesday, two of the more distinctive No. 42s in Mets history. Mo Vaughn also wore it, but not for long, and Roger McDowell's No. 42 seldom was visible from behind the plate. ... Mike Carp, hoping for a renaissance season, was named the Eastern League Player of the Week for the week ending Sunday. The Binghamton first baseman/designated hitter led the league with an .895 slugging percentage and was tied for the league lead with 18 hits, 13 RBIs and four home runs. Carp, invited to big league Spring Training in 2007, missed significant time in the regular season because of a finger injury and had a compromised year.


The Mets had a moment of silence for the fan who fell from an escalator at Shea Stadium on Tuesday night and later died. Antonio Nararainsami, 36, of Brooklyn, was leaving the game with his two daughters and several other relatives when he fell from an escalator below the left-field stands. He landed on a concrete floor and was rushed to a hospital. Doctors pronounced him dead 30 minutes later.

This date in Mets history -- April 17:

Less than 90 minutes after parts of the outfield wall are painted, and about a year after Shea Stadium was to have opened, the Mets engaged the Pirates in the first event in the history of the ballpark. Two hours and 42 minutes later, the event became a 4-3 win for the Pirates over the Mets. Jack Fisher threw the first pitch. Willie Stargell hit one of Fisher's subsequent serves for the first home run in the new park. The Mets lost to a Friend -- Bob. Reliever Ed Bauta was the losing pitcher. Attendance: 50,312.


Since that day, another 7,005 big league games (preseason, postseason, All-Star, Mayor's Trophy, Mayor's Challenge, Big Apple and those games played by the pinstriped nesters for the Bronx not included) have been played at Shea. The Mets have won 3,410 of them.



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OK, time to start the official, Nelson Figueroa for CY Young Award thread. He just K'ed his fourth batter in a row. Man this guy looks impressive! What I am most impressed about is his control. He's locating all his pitches and the slider seems to really fool hitters.


On another note, we are going to kill this guy Lannan tonight. I guarantee David Wright goes deep in this game, or your money back. 8-6 here we come!

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I want to stay positive but I cannot with Delgado batting. Too bad there was no DH, I would chose to DH for him than the pitcher.


Yeah, it's sick to see Delgado in the clean up spot. Delgado can't clean up a dirty dish. I would've put Pagan 2nd and Church in that clean up spot. But I'm not Willie so I don't get a vote.

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DID YOU SEE THAT figerullo catch! :clap:


Yeah we will be seeing that catch on Sportscenter all night.


Lannan with 10 K's and we are not through the 5th. I can't believe these Mutts can't hit Lannan's 88 MPH fastball. These guys forgot how to hit. And they aren't even swinging with two strikes and a mid-80's fastball down the middle! WTF?

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On to another topic, anyone see Ruben Droughns? Its painfully obvious that Gary Cohen hates the Giants as this is the second time this year he complained about his producer talking about them too much. Its apparent there is only one winner working at SNY and thats the guy who produces the Met games.

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This is what I don't like about Ryan Church in the 2 hole. Here's a situation where Jose on first base with 1 out and he's the tying run. You have to give Jose a chance to take 2nd. But Church goes up there and swings at the first two pitches. Pagan seems like a much more patient hitter. And Church strikes out AND takes away the stolen base from Reyes. I like Church but he is NOT a number 2 hitter. What is Willie thinking.


EDIT* This is the 2nd time I've seen Church swinging on the first pitch with Reyes at first, so this is not a one time thing.

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