If there’s something positive to take out of the Mets’ series in St. Louis — other than meeting Omar Minaya’s bizarre goal of only winning one game — it’s that the one game this weekend that anyone will remember was the one that the Mets won. In fact, perhaps that’s the best way to think of it. The Mets won the twenty innings on Saturday; the Cardinals won the seventeen innings on Friday and Sunday.
Saturday’s game was so bizarre that recapping here would be two days late and several hundred thousand dollars short. We will say that the moves Tony La Russa made during that game — wild machinations that led to the Mets walking Albert Pujols twice to pitch to relief pitchers — made Jerry Manuel look downright Solomon-esque. (As Manuel pointed out, if he had made the moves La Russa did, he might not have been invited on the team plane back to Citi Field. Not that Manuel did K-Rod any favors by standing him up and sitting him down in the bullpen repeatedly.) It was a crazy game that somehow overshadowed a no-hitter going on at the same time. It is a game anyone who saw it will never forget — our father proudly stayed in his seats on the first-base line all twenty innings — and it is probably worth noting that the Mets have a lot of work to do to make sure it’s not the highlight of their season.
The Mets’ pitching was terrific Friday and Saturday — Oliver Perez, hello! — and it looked passable last night until Colby Rasmus’s game-tying three-run homer. (John Maine was not particularly effective, but was helped by luck and an overanxious Cardinals offense; he didn’t show much to make you think he deserves to hang on to his job.) But the Mets still can’t hit: They finally released Mike Jacobs, Jeff Francoeur has begun his inevitable downslide and Jose Reyes, 0-for-16 over the weekend, looks like a ghostly shell of his former self. (Sorry to say this, other Mets, but it looks like Reyes might have been rushed.) And there’s still a bad vibe: The twenty-inning game was almost long enough to make you forget that various Mets had to publicly stand behind their manager beforehand, but not quite.
The Mets begin a ten-game homestand tonight against a Cubs team that’s starting to look desperate themselves. How many wins do the Mets need to feel comfortable heading to Philadelphia afterward? Seven? Would 7–3 do it? That would put the Mets back at .500. The Mets need a run fast. Or more of those Manuel stories are going to pop up.
Unless, of course, the Mets play a few more twenty-innings games over the next couple of weeks and can walk the opposing team’s best player to face a middle reliever. That always helps.