"It's not going to get any easier for us," said Mike Piazza. "We have to get back to doing things right."
Even less encouraging was the team's lack of fight after the Pirates built up a 8-1 lead Sunday, battering starter Jae Seo and reliever Dan Wheeler in a five-run fifth. Manager Art Howe summed up the Mets' mood when he said, "We knew we were going to lose three games in a row at some point, and we'll probably do it again."
A quick look at what's going right and wrong around Shea:
"I think with young pitchers you're going to get some of that," said Howe. "It's a new frontier for all of us, to see where we are and where he's going."
Howe is also concerned by the fact that Yates has faced the Expos in three of his last four outings. Montreal beat up the righty on April 4 in Yates' final spring training start, scoring seven runs in 4.0 innings.
"You don't really like that," Howe said. "You'd like to see him face different clubs."
Trachsel was a tough luck loser to the Bucs on Saturday, having his afternoon ruined by Jason Kendall's eighth-inning sacrifice fly, while Glavine took a one-hitter past the seventh inning Friday before Howe lifted him in a controversial move.
Glavine has been helped – especially psychologically – by the presence of Mike Cameron, who made three fantastic plays in center field to help the effort on Friday. Kaz Matsui has also lived up to expectations at shortstop and has exhibited his good range and strong arm, although he's also displayed a tendency to rush some routine plays.
Wigginton looks like he's become bulkier since last season, although it's hard to throw stones – he's hit safely in four of his last six games, scoring three runs with a double, two RBI and a walk.
Pittsburgh isn't a power-hitting team, and they were still able to dink their way to big innings (seven runs Friday, five on Sunday) by playing small-ball and piecing together station-to-station rallies.
The only sure thing, surprisingly, has been closer Braden Looper (although in a bizarro world where Armando Benitez and Jose Mesa rank first and second, respectively, in the National League in saves, maybe we shouldn't be so stunned).
"It hasn't really been on my mind," Piazza said. "I guess it's kind of symbolic of how nothing has been easy for me my whole career."
Piazza could still be experiencing ill effects from his collision at first base with Montreal's Peter Bergeron during the recent series in Puerto Rico, although he insists he's feeling better.
And the ugly…
The Yankees probably aren't fretting as they head to Chicago over their three losses this weekend to the Red Sox, but in Queens, Howe has already found it necessary to remind his troops that 2004 doesn't have to emulate 2003.
"We don't want that kind of mindset," Howe said. "I'd already spoken to them about that at the end of spring training."
The Mets were willing to put up with a five-inning pitcher last spring when they anointed David Cone as the fifth starter, but they aren't likely to do the same with Seo – he's 26, not 40. Still, Seo will get at least two more turns around the rotation, with Scott Erickson still weeks away.