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The Mets’ Wild-Card Magic Number Is 94!

The Mets, coming off a terrific road trip — as much as playing uptown constituted the end of a "road" "trip" — return to Citi Field tonight for a six-game homestand against AL Central leaders Detroit and Minnesota. (If you're a Yankees fan who misses him, drop by to say hello to Johnny Damon, who's returning to NYC tonight.) They come in holding the wild-card spot in the National League, and if you want to start a countdown — because what else are you doing this summer? — the wild-card magic number is 94. Never too early!

Jon Niese is tonight's starter, and he's been impressively dependable: He has won his last three starts and has his ERA down to 3.64. Still, that's actually the worst of the five men in the Mets' rotation, now that Oliver Perez and John Maine are gone. Considering how the Mets are openly drooling over Cliff Lee and/or Roy Oswalt, every starter is essentially singing for their supper. (Some have even suggested the Mets have a six-man rotation, which makes a certain amount of sense but is still kind of funny.

The other piece of news in Mets-land: Carlos Beltran might be returning at some point in the next two months, which is only sorta news, considering two months is a long period of time. He is working out in Port St. Lucie and making progress, though he also is said to be limping, which can't be good. Angel Pagan has been playing so well that if Beltran ever does make it back, they might put him in right rather than center. By the way, today isn't just the first day of summer: It's the one-year anniversary of Beltran's final game with the Mets before missing three months with another injury. He came back to play nineteen games in September and October, the only games he has played in the last 365 days. That is just under $1 million a game.

Photo: Nick Laham/Getty Images