Notes: Pitching tells Mets' tale
With starters struggling, club encounters prolonged slide
NEW YORK -- As if the theory that pitching determines a team's level of success needs reinforcement, there is this set of Mets' pitching numbers to ponder.
From May 23-June 8, the Mets' starters produced a 6-4 record and the lowest ERA (2.17) among starters in the big leagues. Opponents batted .201 against them in the 15 games in which the starters averaged slightly less than 6 2/3 innings. And if not for the bullpen losing their three games against the Phillies in the last homestand, the starters would have had a quite acceptable 8-4 record.
Since that sequence and through Saturday, the Mets had played seven games. Their starters produced these telling numbers: an 8.44 ERA (second highest in the big leagues), an average of 5 1/3 innings per start and a 1-6 record. Opponents batted .333 against them.
No blame game: David Wright's take on the Mets' 11-8 loss to the Yankees on Saturday and Tom Glavine's performance in it: "We put up eight runs. The normal Tommy Glavine, you get three or four runs and you win the game. He's in a little funk, but that's to be expected; he's going to go through that. There's been plenty of times this year where he's given up one or two runs and gotten a no-decision or a loss, so the offense needs to step up on a more consistent basis. I think we're starting to get there, and 99 percent of the time, Tommy's going to go out there and win the game."
A toast to the Tides: Players usually have special places in their hearts for the first big-league park they called home. Shea Stadium was the first big-league home for Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who returns "home" on Monday night, when his team makes its second Interleague appearance at Shea. Gardenhire broke in with the Mets 26 years ago after advancing through their Minor League system, playing for their Triple-A Tidewater affiliate.
Gardenhire is quite familiar with New York from his days as a player and the Twins' visits to Yankee Stadium during his years as a coach and manager. Some of his visits have been more rewarding than others.
One of them produced a characteristically self-deprecating remark that stands as one of Gardenhire's best. He was seated at the desk in the manager's office in the visitors' clubhouse at Yankee Stadium during the 2004 American League Division Series. The office television was showing the Braves' NLDS game against the Astros. When the Braves' Chipper Jones batted, one of the announcers noted that Jones had named his recent newborn son Shea.
When Gardenhire asked why, he was told that Jones chose the name because he always had hit well at Shea Stadium.
"So," Gardenhire said, "I guess I should have named my boy Tidewater, because that's where I really hit."
This and that: Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca was back batting second on Sunday night. ... Manager Willie Randolph said that Carlos Beltran hasn't communicated to him any sense of inability to play because of his sore left quad. Randolph said that Beltran's play in the field doesn't seem to be affected. ... The condition of Damion Easley's right knee has improved, but Easley was the one second baseman not in the starting lineup on Sunday. Ruben Gotay was the second baseman, and Jose Valentin the designated hitter.
This date in Mets history -- June 18: The Mets' 1972 season essentially ended on this date. It was the day that the pain in Rusty Staub's right hand forced the Mets' primary run producer from the lineup. Staub, who had missed just seven games in the previous four seasons, had been hit in the hand by future teammate George Stone on June 3. The Mets, in first place by six games with a 31-12 record on June 3, lost eight of 13 games while Staub tried to play through an injury that went undiagnosed for weeks. He had to prove to management he could swing by hitting two batting-practice home runs. He did so and played again on July 18, but the pain was too great. A subsequent examination detected a break in the hammate bone. Surgery followed, and when Staub returned on Sept. 18, the Mets were 15 1/2 games behind.
Ten years later, Gardenhire had two singles, drove in a run and scored one in the Mets' 5-4 loss to the Cardinals in the second game of doubleheader in St. Louis. He was hitless in the Mets' 5-3 victory in the first game. The Mets scored five runs in the ninth inning off Bruce Sutter, three before a one-hour, 57-minute rain delay, and two after the break on a single by Wally Backman, batting right-handed against Jim Kaat, who had replaced Sutter after the delay.
On this date in 1988, Keith Miller, now one of Wright's agents, beat out an infield single and drove in the decisive run in a 14-inning Mets victory over the Phillies. The Mets scored twice in the 14th after the Phillies had scored one in the top of the inning. And though the Mets won on the final pitch, their 3-2 victory wasn't a walk-off win. The term, a creation of Dennis Eckersley, was unknown in the game until later that season when Eckersley surrendered that home run to Kirk Gibson.
Coming up: With one victory and four losses in his seven most recent starts, John Maine (6-4, 3.05 ERA) will start against the Twins on Monday night at 7:10 p.m. ET at Shea Stadium. Carlos Silva (4-7, 4.07 ERA) will start for the Twins.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.