200 Miles From the Citi

May 17, 2010 5:35 AM

Red In The Face


I owe the Cincinnati Reds an apology.

A couple of weeks ago, after the Mets and Reds battled tooth and nail in a three-game series, I wrote that the Mets were essentially the Reds - they were evenly matched, and would both finish the season around .500.

Well, two weeks later, the Reds are coming off one of the best weeks any Major League team had (5 out of six wins in the week, 7 of 8 overall), and the Mets had one of the worst - losing six of seven last week, 7 of 8 overall.

The Reds are waking up Monday morning in first place.

The Mets are in last.

So I'm sorry.

The Mets would be lucky to be as good as the Cincinnati Reds.

OK.  I know.  It's a long season, the Mets are only a half-game behind the Braves, let alone the fact that they're within six games of first.

But this weekend had an ominous tone.

A four-game sweep in Florida.

A possible injury to Jonathan Niese, possibly throwing even more upheaval into a Mets rotation that is being shifted to account for Oliver Perez's inability to pitch like a major leaguer.  (Or minor leaguer.  Or little leaguer.)

A lineup change a day.  Who's batting third?  Depends on what Jerry Manuel decides when he wakes up.  (Really.  That's what he said.  And if Jose Reyes' reaction to being moved back to leadoff is any indication, the manager trusts his intuition upon waking up more than he trusts his ballplayers' feelings.)

Chris Carter batted cleanup on Sunday afternoon.  That's a team in trouble right there.

The Mets right now reek of desperation.

Remember when we talked about how big this stretch of games is?  Well, it's shaping up to be even bigger.

Now a trip to Atlanta, where Mets seasons go to die.

Then to Washington, and the Nationals are playing better baseball than the Mets.

Then the Yankees, followed by the Phillies.  Not for the weak of heart - or teams that have Chris Carter batting cleanup.

This still could be the end of a stretch that makes or breaks the Mets' season.

But there's a little more pressure in that now it could be the end of a stretch that keeps or costs Jerry Manuel his job.

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