Inside Pitch: Mets come home to clinch

On Friday afternoon, Mets manager Willie Randolph was asked about winning the National League East title on the field as opposed to clinching it because Philadelphia lost.

Randolph said no scenario was perfect, and added, "Ideally, I'd like to win at home in front of our fans."

Three losses later to the Pirates, coupled with the Phillies' sweep in Houston, and the Mets will have that opportunity.

"I feel good about this ballclub," Randolph said after the Mets lost 3-0 Sunday afternoon. "I'm not going to cut my wrists. ... It's not frustrating. It's a little disappointing because we wanted to get in done."

The Mets said there's no panic and they were simply beaten by a hot club over the weekend.

"We didn't swing the bats as well as we were capable of," third baseman David Wright said.

In losing to Pirates left-hander Zach Duke, the Mets are now 5-13 against lefty starters since dealing outfielder Xavier Nady to Pittsburgh.

"It doesn't concern anybody here," Wright said. "It's part of the game."

REPLAY: Considered a throw-in at the time of the deal that brought him from Baltimore to the Mets, John Maine emerged into their plans this season and Sunday started with the chance to pitch them into the playoffs.

Maine pitched well enough but took the loss. He gave up two runs on six hits in six innings in Sunday's 3-0 defeat to the Pirates.

With the loss, and Philadelphia's victory in Houston, the Mets' magic number remained at one.

The Mets stranded 10 runners and went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. In the three-game sweep, they left 24 runners on base and were 3-for-20 with runners in scoring position.


  • The Mets will go with a six-man rotation the rest of the season, which sets up RHP Pedro Martinez to start Game 1 of the NL Division Series. Martinez was reinstated Friday from the disabled list, after being sidelined with a strained right calf, and pitched only three innings that night against Pittsburgh. Martinez said he's operating at about 80 percent. Martinez also had an icepack on his neck Sunday from sleeping on a too-soft mattress.

  • The Mets had eight players on their Opening Day roster who weren't with the team when the rosters expanded at the beginning of the month, which illustrates the adaptability of this team. "During the course of the season there are times when you have to make adjustments," manager Willie Randolph said. Present on the Opening Day roster but missing when the rosters expanded were: RHPs Brian Bannister, Jorge Julio, Duaner Sanchez and Victor Zambrano; C Ramon Castro; INF Anderson Hernandez; and outfielders Victor Diaz and Xavier Nady. Bannister and Hernandez were subsequently recalled from the minors.

  • C Ramon Castro, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery while on the disabled list for a strained ribcage muscle, could play in an Instructional League rehab game at the end of the week. The Mets are hopeful of having him ready for the playoffs.

  • The Mets' situational hitting was absent as they were swept in their three-game series at Pittsburgh. The Mets left 24 runners on base and went 3-for-30 in the three games with runners in scoring position.

  • RHP Steve Trachsel (14-7, 5.17), who's the subject of speculation about his spot in the playoff roster, could quiet things considerably Monday night against the Marlins. A victory would give the Mets their first division title since 1988.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 8 -- Career homers leading off a game by SS Jose Reyes, through Sept. 15, tying him with outfielders Tommie Agee and Len Dykstra for the all-time club lead. He had six this season.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "This park will always have a special feeling to it." -- Mets 3B David Wright, on returning to Pittsburgh's PNC Park, where he competed in the Home Run Derby and homered in the All-Star Game.

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