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Mets vs. Diamondbacks Series Thread


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- The Mets were packing for their Thursday afternoon flight to Phoenix and their three-game engagement with the team with the best record in the game. They just had played their worst game of the season. Their closer opened up on them.

 

Billy Wagner's candor bubbled up after Wednesday's 13-1 loss to the last-place Pirates.

 

"That was ugly," Wagner said. "But we play like that out there against [the D-backs], and it can get a whole lot uglier real fast."

 

The Mets had more errors than hits Wednesday, and produced one hit in 19 at-bats with runners in scoring position against the pitching staff with the highest ERA in the National League. And the Diamondbacks, the team with the lowest ERA, loom.

 

"We'll get embarrassed out there with the pitching those guys have if we don't pick it up in every part of our game," Wagner said. "They have a good, young team with serious talent. We've got to show up.

 

"Right now, we don't match up with them. "There's not a lot of offense; our defense hasn't been so good. The pitching's been inconsistent. We go out there and see three big pitchers [Micah Owings, Brandon Webb and Dan Haren], and we've got to play out best. "I think we know it. Now we've got to show it."

 

The Mets have prospered in the desert in recent years, winning 13 of their past 14 games there. But Wagner cautioned anyone who would listen: "We haven't seen them in a long time, and I'm pretty sure they're a different team. A lot more confident -- and for a reason."

Pitching matchup

NYM: RHP John Maine (2-2, 3.58 ERA)

Maine has split his only two career starts -- both last season -- against the D-backs, striking out 14 and allowing 12 baserunners in 12 innings. He pitched well in both games, allowing three runs total. Among the D-backs, only Chris Snyder has hit a home run against him. But Conor Jackson has four hits in six career at-bats against the right-hander.

 

ARI: RHP Micah Owings (4-0, 3.48 ERA)

After his pinch-hit home run Wednesday night, Owings has eight hits, including two for extra bases, in 19 at-bats during five starts and four appearances as a pinch-hitter. The Mets' rotation has seven hits and three of them are doubles. But the Mets' starters have 44 at-bats and a .159 average, while Owings is batting .421. Owings struck out twice, each time against Tom Glavine, in his only at-bats against the Mets to date.

Tidbits

David Wright's error Wednesday, a misplayed ground ball, happened in the sixth inning as a pigeon flew away from an area 15 feet away from him. Angel Pagan didn't catch a fly ball hit near the corner in left after a long run in the same inning. He leaped, though not close to the wall, and the ball glanced off his glove. The three errors in the game were a team high for the season. ... The nine unearned runs were the most allowed by a Mets team since May 3, 1994, when Bobby Jones was charged with nine in the third inning of a 10-3 loss to the Giants. ... The Mets were walked nine times, including thrice when they already trailed by 12. The 16 combined walks were the most in any nine-inning game this season.

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It was all Mike Pelfrey could do not to gush. Just the thought of Brandon Webb's sinker -- that devilish pitch that helped Webb win a National League Cy Young Award for the Diamondbacks two years ago -- was enough to make Pelfrey, a sinkerball connoisseur himself, consider his not-so-modest ambitions.

 

"I'm not at his level yet," Pelfrey said. "But I'm trying to get there."

 

Well, to be the best, Pelfrey might start by beating the best. His opportunity will come on Saturday, when Pelfrey and the Mets are set to take on Webb and the D-backs in the second of three games at Chase Field. May the best sinker win.

 

"He's a sinkerball guy, and I consider myself a sinkerball guy," Pelfrey said. "He's somebody that I'll look at when I watch film, but I would say that he's a lot farther along in the process than I am. I'm still going out there and trying to learn."

 

Webb, of course, is a prime source of knowledge. Since first cracking the Majors back in 2003, all Webb has done is win 71 games and post a career 3.18 ERA, with his better marks coming in recent years. This season alone, he's gone a perfect 6-0 in six starts, allowing a total of nine runs. And most of that success is thanks to his sinker.

 

Pelfrey, who entered the league just as highly touted of a pitching prospect as Webb was, hasn't enjoyed the same immediate success. But no matter. Forced into the Mets' rotation due to injuries this season, Pelfrey will remain there regardless of results. Might as well make the best of it, however difficult Saturday's opponent might make that task.

 

"You know that he's not going to give up three runs," Pelfrey said of Webb. "He's going to keep the game close. So really, I'm going out there and trying to do the same thing I always do: put up zeros. I understand that the guy I'm going against doesn't necessarily affect me all that much, because my job is to go out there and get guys out."

 

That, and to win. The Mets haven't been doing a whole lot of the latter lately, but with something of an offensive outburst on Friday night, they may be on their way. With that victory in tow, the Mets have now won 12 of their past 13 games at Chase Field.

Pitching matchup

NYM: RHP Mike Pelfrey (2-1, 4.43 ERA)

Pelfrey's most recent start -- against the Braves on April 25 -- was his least effective. He walked three of his first five batters and surrendered nine hits, including a two-run home run by Kelly Johnson, in 5 1/3 innings. Pelfrey is winless in his two most recent starts -- having allowed nine runs and 19 hits in 10 1/3 innings -- and has taken two steps back since pitching seven shutout innings against the Nationals on April 15.

 

ARI: RHP Brandon Webb (6-0, 1.98 ERA)

Webb just keeps rolling right along. In his last outing against the Padres on Sunday, he allowed one unearned run over six innings as he outdueled Jake Peavy for the 2-1 win. Hot starts are nothing new for Webb. The right-hander started the 2005 season 6-0, and he opened the '06 campaign with a franchise-best 8-0 mark. Webb won the NL Cy Young Award in '06 and finished second in the voting to Peavy last year.

Tidbits

Reserve outfielder Brady Clark accepted a Minor League assignment, and he started in center field for Triple-A New Orleans on Friday. The Mets designated Clark for assignment on April 24. ... Former Mets first baseman Julio Franco has officially retired at the age of 49, according to a report on the Mexican Baseball League's official Web site. ... Moises Alou, activated by the Mets on Friday, holds a .478 average with two home runs in 23 career at-bats off Webb. ... Ryan Church has also hit Webb well, compiling five hits -- four of them for extra bases -- in 10 at-bats with the Nationals.

 

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To be honest, I'm very scared. I would love to see the Mets put the first number on Webb's loss column. I mean, it has to happen some time. I hope the Mets don't get shut out, but if they lose, let them lose in a close game.

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I think we all wanted Jorge and Heilman to get some confidence today. Hopefully Jorge did but Heilman really is fortunate to get out of that. A walk, followed by 2 hit by pitches? He causes his own problems. Even though they didn't score, I can't imagine he feels any better about himself about that showing.

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