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Ah, how punny. The Mets lose to the Marlins and Ricky Nolasco, who entered the game 0-3 with a 19.73 ERA career against us, and I can still make light of it with a terribly clever pun.

Well, not exactly. Last night's game wasn't all bad: after all, our golden boy did hit his first home run of the year (on the same night that the perenially-overrated $136 million man Alfonso Soriano hit his), and the Mets didn't play awfully. David Wright went 3-for-4 with a double as well.

Pelf didn't pitch badly, aside from a poor first inning (three walks and a triple, positively Parkesque), and the Mets' rookie wunderkind Joe Smith still hasn't given up a run on the season.

Regrettably, Stinky Heilman was exactly his name, serving up a two-run job to ice it in the eighth. He put it out of reach: a deficit of one run became three during his fine stint on the mound.

I don't know what to do about him: one would hope his filthy change will soon return, and moreover that he won't go all Brad Lidge on us.

Lidge, coincidentally (or not?), like Heilman closed games for Notre Dame, and melted down precipitously after serving up a home run, coincidentally (or not?), to a Puerto Rican player on the Cardinals while pitching in his home ballpark during the NLCS. The comparisons are eerie.

Lidge's meltdown didn't cost his Astros a spot in the World Series. After all, the Cardinals had disposed of the Astros during the 2004 NLCS, and 2005 presented the Astros with an opportunity to go to the Series. They were swept, with Lidge boasting an 0-2 record in only three games of work.

After that postseason, questions emerged about Lidge's confidence. Would he be okay? The overwhelming opinion was that the embattled closer would weather the storm. Not exactly: he posted a 1-5 record with a Trachselian 5.28 ERA. His WXRL, a metric for measuring relievers, dropped from 8.1 in 2004, to 4.7 in 2005, and an embarrassing 0.8 in 2006.

Lidge has a 5.73 ERA and a ghastly 2.36 WHIP this season, and was recently bumped from the closer's role in Houston in favor of former Met long man Dan Wheeler.

Enter Heilman. He served up a shot of Jack to Molina during Game 7: we all unfortunately can remember. Heilman's numbers this year haven't quite been Lidgely, though he is undoubtedly vying with Ambiorix Burgos for the weak link in the Mets' pen, with two losses and a 4.09 ERA on the young season while working as the primary setup man.

Perhaps Willie should consider lengthening the leashes of Schoeneweis (who has a whopping 8 walks in slightly more than nine innings) and Joe Smith, though I am not entirely sure that's a good idea. Maybe the Mets would benefit from the promotion of Jorge Sosa, who has been impressive at New Orleans, and has worked as a reliever before.

Maybe it was shortsighted to unload four of our young relievers this offseason to net Ben Johnson, Adam Bostick, Jason Vargas, and Jon Adkins. I don't see any of them contributing to the Flushing squad, while Henry Owens and Matt Lindstrom have combined for 26.2 innings of 2.40 ERA ball for the Marlins and Heath Bell has a 0.54 ERA in 16.2 innings of work for the Padres.

Bell (left, pumped to be a Padre) probably had very little to offer the big club, though I would disagree with similar assessments about Ring, Owens, and Lindstrom. Maybe the Sanchez and Padilla injuries are responsible for this, perhaps the Mota suspension as well, though all of these were pretty much known quantities when Minaya made the questionable deals with Florida and San Diego (read my first impulse, which turned out to be pretty much right).

The bullpen needs to get better, and a little more late-inning production from the offense wouldn't exactly hurt. You can't exactly expect the Mets to win when they score two solitary runs.


The Mets are tied 1-1 with Florida now, with Perez on the hill. Follow it at MLB Gameday. Ruben Gotay drove in the tying run.

And finally, how about those Rangers? I think Briere's last second shot probably was a goal, so we caught a break, but it's not like the refs have been awfully kind to us this season. Shanahan's goal was beautiful, and King Henrik was outstanding.

I made a mistake handicapping the series in my post yesterday: the NHL series format is 2-2-1-1-1, not 2-3-1. Game 5 is therefore in Buffalo, and we'll see you on Friday night with a chance to take the lead.

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