New York Mets @ St. Louis Cardinals Series Preview

Perhaps a change of scenery will do the Mets well as they depart Queens on a six-game roadtrip, beginning Tuesday night with a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Mets appeared to be righting their ship, having won three consecutive series, and then winning a come from behind affair with the Diamondbacks Friday night.

But following a rainout Saturday, they ran into a twin buzzsaw in Sunday's doubleheader, namely rookie Brandon Webb and future Hall-of-Famer Randy Johnson. The two hurlers combined to strike out 27 Mets en route to a Diamondback doubleheader sweep, leaving the Mets 4 ½ games out of first place heading into tonights action. The Cardinals won a 20-inning game in Miami Sunday, a game that saw them blow a five-run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning.


The series kicks off with a good matchup Tuesday night, with undefeated Al Leiter (3-0, 2.35) taking the mound for the Mets against former Seton Hall hurler Matt Morris (1-2, 2.45). Leiter worked six strong innings against the Astros in his last start, resulting in his third win. Morris' last start resulted in a no-decision against the Braves.

A couple of undefeated hurlers go at it Wednesday, with Pedro Astacio (1-0, 3.00) making his second start for the Mets since coming off the disabled list, going up against Woody Williams (3-0, 0.69). Astacio gave up two runs over six innings against the Astros to win his first start. Williams has been on fire both on the mound and at the plate, where he is hitting .375. His hitting prowess has sparked debate in St. Louis about using him as a pinch-hitter, and possibly as a position player in certain situations.

The series concludes Thursday with Steve Trachsel (0-1, 4,82) still seeking his first win of the season, going up against Brett Tomko (2-2, 4.46). Trachsel gave up three runs in six innings Friday night against Arizona, but the Mets bailed him out, coming back to win 4-3. Although Tomko has put up fairly decent numbers in his career, he has long been a punching bag for the Mets, dating back to his days in Cincinnati and San Diego.


While Mets' fans have been agonizing over the early season failures of Armando Benitez, the Cardinals, going with a bullpen by committee due to the absence of closer Jason Isringhausen, have lost five games in their opponents last at-bat. Izzy, as he was affectionately known in his New York days, had off-season shoulder surgery...The Mets have lost home doubleheaders to the Diamondbacks two straight years. In Sunday's debacle, not only did they strike out a major league record 27 times, they committed eight errors...In Sunday's 20-inning win over the Marlins, the Cardinals' bullpen allowed five runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, and then went on to record 11 shutout innings.

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