The right-hander didn't get the decision against the Dodgers that night at Shea Stadium. He was yanked with one out in fifth inning and the Mets leading, 4-1, so left-hander Pedro Feliciano could face Kenny Lofton. Lofton struck out. Maine allowed one run and six hits, while walking two and striking out five in a game the Mets eventually won, 6-5, on their way to a sweep in the best-of-five series.But Maine said nerves weren't the issue his next time out, when he was much less effective. Keeping the ball in the zone was. "I don't think it was so much nerves," Maine said. "I don't want to say it was [lack of] focus. I go out there every pitch trying to focus. It was just one of those games, and it happened at a bad time. It's something that I can fix, something I'll work on between starts. If I just go out there, feel fresh and throw strikes, I'll be all right." Asked what adjustments he was making for his big Game 6 start, Maine added: "There's little things you can do in between starts. You have your bullpens and there might be something minor that maybe [pitching coach] Rick [Peterson] would point out." Maine was acquired along with Jorge Julio from the Orioles in the Kris Benson trade last winter and was part of the Major League tryout camp the Mets conducted this past season as injuries beset the starting staff. Maine was 6-5 with a 3.60 ERA in 16 appearances, 15 of the them starts. It was enough for Randolph to put his faith in Maine as the postseason began. Maine also had 71 strikeouts in 91 innings. His propensity for whiffing hitters is what caught the eye of Mets general manager Omar Minaya when he made the Benson deal. "If I'm not mistaken, one year he lead all of Minor League baseball in strikeouts," Minaya said. "That stands out. When you have a swing-and-miss pitch, that's something of value. That, plus size and youth. He's only 24 years old. We had Benson for how many more years? Two more years? I felt that when we traded for [Maine], over the next five years, this kid was going to win more games than Benson is going to win." With Hernandez still on the shelf and not even on the roster at least until the World Series, Maine will get the ball again on Wednesday. He'll have perhaps one more postseason start to try to prove Minaya right.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.