New York Mets @ Florida Marlins Series Preview

Fresh off a 3-3 homestand that was one pitch from being 4-2, the New York Mets jaunt off on their first road trip of the season which carries them to Miami, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Pittsburgh. The trip starts with a three game series against division rival Florida.

The Mets appeared poised to sweep the Montreal Expos over the weekend, but evidently, through 45 days of spring training and one week of regular season play, someone forgot to whisper in Art Howe's ear that Armando Benitez can't pitch three days in a row. Consequently, Benitez served up a game losing three run homer to Expos' first baseman Jeff Liefer in the ninth inning Sunday. The Marlins come into the series at 2-5, after losing three of four to Atlanta, including a bizarre 3-0 loss Monday at the Ted, which saw the only three runs of the game come on consecutive homers by Gary Sheffield, Chipper Jones, and Andruw Jones.


The series opens up with a pair of lefthanders taking the hill Tuesday night. Al Leiter (1-0, 1.50) comes off a brilliant season-opening start against Chicago, in which he allowed just one run on six hits in six innings. Mark Redman (1-0, 1.35), who won his first start against Philadelphia, takes the ball for the Marlins.

Steve Trachsel (0-1, 9.00) takes the ball in the middle game for the Mets against A.J. Burnett, who is making his first start of the season after coming back from elbow inflammation. Burnett is 0-4 lifetime against the Mets. Trachsel was hit hard by his former team, the Chicago Cubs, last Thursday, giving up five runs on nine hits in only five innings.

The series concludes Thursday with baseball's best comeback story, David Cone, making his second start for Mets. Cone won his first start in more than a year, after taking all of 2002 off, by blanking the Montreal Expos over five innings last Friday night. The only two hits he allowed were to the opposing pitcher. Cone will be opposed by Marlin phenom in the making Josh Beckett (1-1, 3.12), who is making his third start of the season.


It looks like the only thing standing in the way of former Astro pitcher Shane Reynolds becoming a Met is $250,000. That is the difference in the buyout the two sides want if the Mets elect not to bring Reynolds back next season...The Marlins bullpen has a 7.84 ERA after one week of play, giving up 18 earned runs in 20 2/3 innings...Mo Vaughn is day-to-day with a strained right hip flexor...Pedro Astascio is on track to rejoin the Mets soon. In 2 2/3 innings at Class A St. Lucie April 4th, he allowed four hits and two runs, striking out three. He is due to throw again on April 8th.

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