Expos @ Mets Series Preview

The Expos, baseball's defiant nomads, come to Shea after thumping the Toronto Blue Jays,their Canadian American League counterparts, two out of three games. This does not bode well for the Mets, who spent their four-game series with the Yankees being abused by the Yankee hitters.

The scary thing is that the Expos are doing well without Vladimir Guerrero, their all-world right fielder, in the lineup. Vlad's been on the disabled list since the beginning of May with a herniated disc. Rather than collapse, the Expos have stubbornly clung to third place in the division, staying a respectable seven games behind the Atlanta Braves.

What fuels these Expos? Part of it is the sheer determination of Hall of Fame manager Frank Robinson. His work ethic and willpower, plus a fearsome glare makes his players want to play hard. Puerto Rican natives Jose Vidro and Javier Vazquez anchor the Expos in both pitching and on the field. They also got a promising closer in Rocky Biddle in a trade last year.

So this is the worst possible time for the Mets, coming off a four-game drubbing by the Yankees, to see this Expo team. The Mets are not hitting, and they haven't been getting the best pitching of late either. The only hitters who are providing any regular offense are Jeromy Burnitz and Cliff Floyd. Center field is a mess, with Tsuyoshi Shinjo being sent down on Saturday, Timo Perez not being able to show any consistency whatsoever, and Burnitz playing an out-of-position centerfield at times. Let's not think about Roger Cedeno in centerfield, please.

So here are the pitching matchups. Cover your eyes:

Game One: Javier Vazquez (6-5, 4.02) vs. Steve Trachsel (6-5, 4.56)

Don't be fooled by Vazquez's record. He brings it every time he pitches, and with better luck, he'd have double-digits in wins. He is prone to the long ball, giving up two home runs in his last outing. It hasn't helped that he's pitched in the bandbox in Puerto Rico known as Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Trachsel has continued his solid pitching, giving a quality start his last time out, going seven innings and giving up three runs. This could be a pitcher's duel.

Game Two: Sun-Woo Kim (0-1, 10.38) vs. Aaron Heilman (0-1, 1.50)

This one represents the Mets best chance to win a game. Sun Woo Kim hasn't made it out of the fourth inning his only two starts this year and giving up 5 home runs those two outings. Burnitz and Floyd must be licking their chops. Heilman didn't pitch badly his first start, and maintained his composure even after errors were made and stuck with his game plan, minimizing any earned runs. Jeff Weaver, take note. It's also too bad that Jae Seo isn't the starter in this game. It would probably be the first time that two South Koreans faced each other in the majors.

Game Three: Livan Hernandez (6-6, 4.19) vs. Jae Seo (5-3, 3.09)

It seems so long ago (and many pounds ago) when Livan Hernandez was the darling of the baseball world, helping pitch the Florida Marlins to a World Championship. Then reality hit, with Wayne Huizenga's fire sale of the Marlins and the subsequent discovery by Hernandez that fast food tastes GOOD. He's been a decent pitcher his entire career, even winning 17 games in 2000. But one alwys felt that if he actually focused on the game, he could be dominant. He's wasted his talent, and he must drive Frank Robinson crazy. He still has the talent to get the ball every fifth day though. Seo, on the other hand, has been trying to make every chance count. Look for him to rebound from his bad start against the Yankees, part of it due to his being inactive for a week with a split fingernail on his finger.

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