Notes: Mota returns from suspension
Righty gives Mets another strong late-inning reliever
NEW YORK -- Fifty days is plenty of time to reflect.
Guillermo Mota has certainly found that to be true, returning to the Mets on Wednesday after completing last winter's 50-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
"I know what I did," Mota said. "I was sitting and watching and thinking that I don't want to do it again. It's something you just learn from it."
The Mets have readily accepted Mota's apology, welcoming back a pitcher that could fortify an already-strong band of late-inning relievers. Mota was 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA in 18 innings with the Mets last season, and the 33-year-old holds a 3.70 career ERA out of the 'pen.
"They know what kind of guy I am," Mota said. "They are ready to support me."
But the question now becomes whether or not Mets fans will feel the same way.
"They're the fans. Basically, they do whatever they want to do," Mota said. "I don't have any control over that."
Mets manager Willie Randolph, for his part, won't be hesitant to find out. Randolph said he's eager to give Mota some quick work, as he does with most Minor League callups. The fact that Mota wasn't injured, and thusly has been able to practice at full speed for some time now, should only enhance Randolph's boldness in using him.
Mota pitched 7 2/3 innings in two weeks at Triple-A New Orleans, once working multiple innings and once working consecutive days. He last threw on Monday, tossing a perfect inning with two strikeouts.
"He's probably as stretched out as some of the guys leaving Spring Training," Randolph said. "I'm going to use him just like I would if he'd been here. I think he's in that kind of shape to do that."
Bonds away: The Mets saw a San Francisco lineup with a noticeably different complexion on Wednesday, with Barry Bonds slotted in the cleanup spot. Bonds had been limited to a pinch-hit appearance in Tuesday's series opener.
"You know he's there," Randolph said. "He's always a guy who can make an impact, so it's a little bit different."
Different, despite the fact that Bonds is batting just .275 through the season's first two months -- a relatively paltry mark considering his mind-boggling track record. But Bonds' 12 home runs provide tangible proof that the most giant of Giants is still a constant threat.
"I've always gone after Barry, so I don't fall into being afraid to pitch to him," Randolph said. "We try to be careful. You have to consider how hot he is, but also be conscious of the fact that he might come out of that in one swing or one at-bat. The respect is always there."
Valentin's Day: Injured second baseman Jose Valentin had about as good a first rehab game as he could have hoped for Wednesday, finishing 3-for-5 with a walk at extended Spring Training in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Valentin played three innings in the field, completing the afternoon as a designated hitter.
What a differential: Through Tuesday, the Mets had outscored their opponents by 64 runs in 50 games, the greatest differential in the National League. For years, the World Series team with the greater run differential has won a high percentage of the series. The 1986 Mets had an extraordinary regular season run to the World Series championship, outscoring their opponents by 205 runs in 162 games. The other four National League teams that produced winning records that season outscored their opponents by a total of 206 runs.
The five other National League teams this season that had winning records through Tuesday -- the Braves, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Padres -- all had positive run differentials, equaling 107 runs. The Padres' differential, 40, ranked second to the Mets, and they had played one more game than the Mets.
The Giants had outscored their opponents by 11 runs in 50 games, but have a losing record. The Phillies, a .500 team through Tuesday, and the Cubs (22-28) were the only other teams with positive differentials -- 13 and 20 runs, respectively.
The Mets at 50: The Mets' record through Tuesday night was 33-17, equaling the record of the 1972 Mets team that, crushed by the summer loss of injured Rusty Staub, finished at 83-73. The '86 team had a 35-15 record through 50 games; the '88 team won 34 of its first 50 games. And the 1969 team, the only other Mets team to win at least 100 games, had a 27-23 record after 50 games. That club's 50th game was the ninth of 11 consecutive victories.
That date in Mets history -- May 31: The Mets and Giants played 32 innings at Shea Stadium in 1964. The Giants won the first game of a doubleheader that began at 1 p.m. ET, with Juan Marichal pitching a nine-inning complete game in the 5-3 victory.
A three-run home run by Joe Christopher against starter Bobby Bolin and off the glove of Willie Mays tied the score at 6 in the seventh inning of the second game. The Giants scored the decisive runs in their 8-6 victory in the 23rd inning on a pinch-hit double by Del Crandell and a single by Jesus Alou against Galen Cisco, who was pitching his ninth inning of relief. Gaylord Perry, the fifth of six Giants pitchers, earned the victory, pitching 10 innings. He was responsible for nine of the Giants' 22 strikeouts. The game lasted seven hours, 23 minutes and ended at 11:25 p.m.
And of course, Ed Sudol was the home-plate umpire. He also worked the plate in the 25-inning game the Mets and Cardinals played on Sept. 11, 1974, at Shea, and the 24-inning game the Mets and Astros played at the Astrodome on April 15, 1968. Sudol also worked the bases on Aug. 1, 1972, when the Mets and Phillies played 27 innings in a doubleheader at Shea.
Coming up: After the two left-handed starters -- Barry Zito and Tom Glavine -- pitched Wednesday night, the Giants and Mets change sides. Matt Cain and Orlando Hernandez, each decidedly right-handed, start Thursday night at Shea Stadium. The last game of the season between the teams begins at 7:10 p.m. ET.
Anthony DiComo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Marty Noble contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.