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Mets (10-7) vs. Cubs (12-6) 7:10 PM


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he demands of winning are great. Just ask the Mets, a team that will contend for the National League East title and a team the country wants to see at every opportunity.

 

Every player loves the spotlight of nationally televised games. It's the domino-effect hassle that comes with it, like playing an 8 p.m. ET game on Sunday on a travel day, which makes it a little grueling.

 

The Mets did just that on Sunday night as they lost, 5-4, to the Phillies and were scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 4:30 a.m. Monday to open a two-game series with the Cubs. Monday night's game will be nationally televised on ESPN.

 

"It's part of the game, it all comes with it," Mets third baseman David Wright said. "I'm not saying it's easy, or it's something everyone looks forward to, and you can complain as much as you want about it, it still doesn't matter, it's part of the season. It's a grind, it's something that comes with the territory."

 

Wright said the travel of a Major League player is as ideal as it gets. They stay at the best hotels. All of their flights are chartered. But that doesn't matter to him.

 

"I don't like sleeping on planes," Wright said. "I'll do something to occupy my time on the plane like read, listen to music. But I'm not the kind of guy who likes to sleep on planes. That's the biggest priority about traveling situations like playing [on travel days with a late flight out], find the time to get sleep. During the course of the season, you get situations like this. I'll get to the hotel and I'll go right out once my head hits the pillow."

 

The Mets are playing well of late, winning five of their last six and seven of their last 10 games entering Chicago. The Cubs are on a three-game winning streak and have won eight of their last 10. But an itinerary like the Mets' will have to endure over the next 24 hours can take a toll on the playing field.

 

"That's why it's a little bit of a challenge both mentally and physically," Wright said. "You try to get yourself up physically for games, and you have to stay mentally tough. I think it's what makes you a success in this league in being able to deal with the highs and lows of the game, especially crazy travel schedules. That's why there's no use complaining about it, because you don't really have any control over it. You just have to deal with it the best you can."

 

Wright may arrive in Chicago groggy, but he certainly likes Cubs pitching. He hit .391 against the Cubs in 2007, going 9-for-23, with a home run and five RBIs. Wright has a .297 career average against the Cubs.

 

Pitching matchup

NYM: RHP John Maine (1-1, 3.78 ERA)

Maine went 0-2 with a 10.57 ERA in two starts against the Cubs last year. In 7 2/3 innings, he allowed 11 hits, nine runs, walked six and struck out five. His last start at Wrigley Field was not exactly a memorable one, Aug. 4, 2007, lasting just 2 2/3 innings and allowing six runs on four hits in a 6-2 loss.

 

CHC: RHP Carlos Zambrano (2-1, 3.04 ERA)

Zambrano has 23 strikeouts and surrendered just three walks in 26 2/3 innings this season. He has a 3-1 career mark against the Mets, with a 3.30 ERA, giving up 11 earned runs in 30 innings. In his last start against the Mets, Zambrano went eight innings in a 10-1 Cubs' victory on May 15 at Wrigley Field.

 

Tidbits

Mets Triple-A third baseman Fernando Tatis leads the Minor Leagues with eight homers.

 

This date in Mets history -- April 21: The grandest day in the early history of the franchise happened on this date in 1963. The Mets completed a four-game series sweep of the Milwaukee Braves at the Polo Grounds with an 8-5 victory in the first game, fueled by a grand slam by Jim Hickman in the eighth inning and a save by No. 1 starter Roger Craig, and a 9-2 victory against Lew Burdette in the second game.

 

Not only was it a sweep, but the sweep happened after the Mets had lost their first eight games -- they had lost their first nine in 1962. Not only had they not swept a series in the first 168 games in franchise history, they hadn't won four straight games to that point, either.

 

Twice in '62, they won three straight. In each instance, the three victories came in a four-game series, one against the Reds, the other against the Braves.

 

Ray Burris and Neil Allen combined to limit the Phillies to five hits -- three by Pete Rose -- in a 3-0 victory at Veterans Stadium on this date in 1980. The Mets had no extra base hits among the six hits the produced against losing pitcher Steve Carlton.

 

In one of the benchmark games in their run to the 1986 NL East championship, the Mets beat the Pirates, 6-5 at Shea on this date. They tied the score at 4 in the eighth when Ray Knight hit a two-run home run off right-handed reliever Cecilio Guante, fell behind in the ninth when Lee Mazzilli walked and scored against Roger McDowell and won in the ninth on run-scoring hits by Tim Teufel and Gary Carter. Knight's home run came after he had left the on-deck circle and looked back over his shoulder at manager Davey Johnson, expecting to be called back to the dugout and removed for pinch-hitter Howard Johnson.

 

Knight's production -- 51 runs, 76 RBIs and 11 home runs in 486 at-bats -- became an overlooked component in the Mets' runaway.

 

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I've missed the last few games due to rampant sleeping. Is Pagan just getting the day off or is there something wrong? :ph34r:

 

Pagan is just getting a day off. No big whoop. Looks like we are going to lose this one. Fukudome had an unbelievable AB. Heilman threw a lot of strikes to him and he just kept fouling them away. Finally hit a groundball to left base hit, which now loads the bases with no outs. Heilman takes a lot of criticism, but that was just great hitting.

 

Now plunking Ramirez was all his fault.

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