Mets Upbeat After So-So Road Trip

The Mets headed back to New York last night with a 3-6 road trip under their belts, but despite the subpar journey, the mood on the cross-country flight was reportedly upbeat. <P> How come? Well, for starters, things could have been a lot worse, especially after the Mets were swept by the Cubs to open the trip. The Mets were able to rebound on the West Coast by taking two of three from the Dodgers and beating the Padres on getaway day, brightening spirits some.

In fact, a little more than a week after Tom Glavine's wife Chris asked if the season was slipping away, Glavine did his best to keep the 10-15 Mets in the thick of things. New York didn't gain any ground on the three-city trek, losing a half-game on division-leading Florida, but that's not bad for a road trip that ended three games under .500.

In Sunday's series finale at San Diego, Glavine (4-1, 1.85) scattered five hits in six innings and helped his own cause by getting on base three times.

Like his six-inning, ten hit outing in Los Angeles Tuesday, it wasn't Glavine's strongest effort, but it was certainly enough to get the job done. He has pitched at least six innings in each of his six outings this season, earning quality starts in all of his appearances.

"We're not out of anything yet," Glavine told reporters Sunday. "No one in our division is running away with anything. With one good week, we could find ourselves closer to the front of the division."

That could come with a strong showing this week, as the Mets hope to fatten up with some home cooking and the Shea Stadium arrivals of two struggling clubs, the Giants (12-14) and Brewers (12-13).

Obviously, the big crowds will hit Shea this week to watch the stunning Barry Bonds, but it's very likely they'll be watching him toss his bat aside and jog down to first base. Bonds is hitting a superhuman .463 with a 1.815 OPS this year, but three Giants regulars – J.T. Snow, Edgardo Alfonzo and Neifi Perez – are all hitting below .230.

It almost goes without saying, but Mets pitchers would be wise to stay off the highlight reels and take a note from the rest of the National League, issuing free passes to Bonds throughout most of the three-game series.

As for the Mets, Todd Zeile has gone from a questionable signing to the club's most valuable player. The 38-year-old continued to play like it was 1999, hitting .355 (11-for-31) on the road trip to raise his average to .322, and has contributed solid defense at the hot corner in Ty Wigginton's absence (ulcer).

In fact, though Wigginton is scheduled to return to the Mets later this week, there's no guarantee he'll even regain his starting job at third base. Struggling Jason Phillips moaned that he "saw it coming" when manager Art Howe played Zeile over him at first base late in April; Wigginton – hitting just .188 with two homers this year – could soon be placed in a similar predicament.

Meanwhile, the Mets offense has found a trio of productive contributors beneath the usual suspects – i.e. the Mike Piazzas of the lineup. Shane Spencer hit .429 (12-for-28) on the road trip and gave the Mets strong outfield defense once again, while Danny Garcia – filling in indefinitely for the mysteriously injured Jose Reyes – is riding a four-game hitting streak and giving the Mets a spark.

The other Garcia, outfielder Karim, is riding a hit streak of his own: a 2-for-5 showing yesterday extended his string to seven games.

In The Minors

1B Craig Brazell – a forgotten man in the Mets' system behind the efforts of Piazza, Zeile and Phillips – is getting hot down at Triple-A Norfolk. Brazell, who could someday make some very attractive trade bait if the Mets aren't able to clear space at the major league level, went 2-for-3 with an RBI yesterday and is 5-for-10 with six RBI in his last three games.

RHP Jeremy Griffiths (remember him?) threw five shutout innings of one-hit ball for Norfolk, while RHP Jason Roach (remember him, part deux) threw three scoreless, hitless innings.

On Tap for the Giants Series

Tues., May 4: RHP Brett Tomko (1-1, 7.57) vs. RHP Steve Trachsel (2-3, 4.50)
Wed., May 5: RHP Jerome Williams (3-1, 3.93) vs. RHP Jae Seo (1-3, 5.06)
Thu., May 6: RHP Jason Schmidt (2-2, 4.70) vs. LHP Al Leiter (1-1, 1.65)

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