(Long Island, NY) There is never a good time to lose five straight games is. But some are worse than others and that is the situation for the New York Mets. With a three-game set at Yankee Stadium staring them in the face, their slim lead in the National League East may quickly disappear.
After shutting out the Tigers at Comerica Park on June 8, the Mets dropped the last two in Detroit and were swept by the Dodgers in Los Angeles. The low point came in the middle game when Mets starter John Maine gave up three home runs on consecutive pitches in the second inning. The bottom of the Dodgers’ order did the damage to wipe away a 1-0 Mets lead. Wilson Betemit, Matt Kemp and starting pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo all went yard to ignite the usually late arriving crowd at Dodger Stadium, which was announced at 42, 438.
Following the 4-1 loss, the feeling in the visitor’s clubhouse was clearly solemn.
“This is a test of character and what we’re made of,” said David Wright. “It’s beyond a little slump. We need to step it up. This isn’t our team. This isn’t what we’re about.”
Paul Lo Duca added, “You have to keep going and work your way out of it.”
The team knows what they have to do, but also realize that all teams go through rough stretches.
“Last year, we went into a stretch like this in August and September,” Maine said. “We’ll be alright.”
The Yankees are playing their best baseball of the season now and with the Mets collectively slumping, opposing teams are noticing their weakness. Dodgers’ catcher Russell Martin was asked if his tem caught the Mets at the right time and responded, “You could say that if you want to.”
The Mets have only one win in their last ten games prior to the weekend’s installment of the Subway Series. That is the exact opposite of the Yankees, who have cut their deficit down to eight games behind the Boston Red Sox. Not too long ago, they were staring at 15 1/2 games.
Everything that went wrong for the Bronx Bombers is now coming full circle. They won the last three games in Chicago against the White Sox and swept the Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks at Yankee Stadium.
Roger Clemens makes his second start of the season in Game One against the Mets. The Rocket won on Saturday against Pittsburgh and now will look to go 2-0 to begin his latest comeback.
“It felt like old times,” Clemens told reporters following his first game. “I’ve got to take a little deep breath now. I understand the excitement that’s there and the expectations that are there. There’s a lot of both.”
Clemens will be looking for his 350th career win against the Mets. His pitching opponent will be Oliver Perez, who is 6-5 with a 3.21. The inconsistent lefthander has not won since May 23 at Atlanta and has dropped his last two decisions. In his last start, he gave up five earned runs in five innings at Detroit.
After opening up a comfortable lead, the Mets are now staring at both Atlanta and Philadelphia with only two games separating them. Before the weekend is over, that may look very different.