Notes: Lawrence gets nod for Monday

Notes: Lawrence gets nod for Monday

NEW YORK -- While Oliver Perez was walking the ballpark in the first three innings on Sunday, the Mets had other problems with their starting pitchers. Orlando Hernandez already had been scratched from his scheduled start Monday because of persistent pain in his right foot. And El Duque's immediate future -- which seemingly includes the postseason -- is no more certain because of the scratch, no matter the happy face the Mets tried to attach to it.

Brian Lawrence -- and not Mike Pelfrey -- is to replace El Duque. The Mets inserted Pelfrey on Wednesday, pushing Tom Glavine's next start back one day to afford Pedro Martinez an extra day of rest.

Willie Randolph said Hernandez can run and do all his normal between-starts work, but noted that the period between starts has been extended because Hernandez feels pain when he pushes off the rubber.

Hernandez went from Aug. 30-Sept. 10 without pitching because of the pain in his foot. He has pitched merely six innings since Aug. 25.

Trainer's room II: Billy Wagner said Sunday he probably could have pitched if needed Saturday, but that he had experienced back spasms. Randolph opted to save Aaron Heilman for the closer role and therefore had Pedro Feliciano start the eighth against right-handed hitter Aaron Rowand, who tied the score with a home run.

Magic touch: When Moises Alou didn't catch the fly ball Jimmy Rollins hit to the wall in left field in the fourth inning Sunday, it marked the fourth time in four tries over two days that the Mets didn't make a play on a ball hit by Rollins -- three errors and a misplay by Carlos Beltran on Rollins' game-winning triple Saturday.

Lacking of damage control: When the Phillies scored two unearned runs in the first inning Sunday, the total of unearned runs against Perez increased to 18, the most in the big leagues, hardly a distinction he wants and one that is troubling for the Mets, given Perez's high number of strikeouts.

Perspective: The 1999 Mets allowed 20 unearned runs -- all year.

Al Leiter allowed 20 unearned runs in 2002, but he threw 204 1/3 innings. Perez's first inning Sunday put his total at 161 2/3 innings.

Perez walked five in the first three innings, increasing his walk total against the Phillies in four starts over two seasons as a Met to 20 in 16 2/3 innings.

Loading up: The Mets' big league roster includes 35 players now that Joe Smith, David Newhan, Anderson Hernandez and Lawrence have been promoted following the end of Triple-A New Orleans' season. Other than Smith, none of the four appears to have much chance to be on the postseason roster. Smith, the Mets believe, has regained most of his fastball and confidence. The composition of the postseason bullpen will depend, to some degree, on the composition of the opponent's lineup and bench, specifically the left-handed/right-handed balance.

"I'm not going to go out of way to find places to use [Smith]" Randolph said. "We'll use him when it's the right place to use him."

One of the reasons Randolph has wanted Guillermo Mota to assert himself is that Mota's changeup -- when he's throwing right -- makes him effective against both left-handed and right-handed hitters.

Now that he is back, Smith is a smaller story than he was when he made the team out of Spring Training. He is 10 pounds lighter.

Smith walked through the clubhouse before the game Sunday, tugging on his now-baggy uniform.

"Everything's too big now," he said.

Everything but his locker stall.

The stall that had been his before his demotion on July 27 since has been assigned to Lawrence. So Smith was assigned a shorter portable locker that had been wheeled in to the clubhouse to accommodate the SCU's -- September callups -- and stuck in a small vacant area.

"They've cut me down to size," Smith said.

New hardware: Anderson Hernandez -- a Met for a few scattered weeks during the season -- earned the nod as the Mets' Minor League Player of the Year when the team handed out its annual Sterling Awards on Saturday.

Hernandez, who hit .301 with 16 steals in 128 games for New Orleans, was recalled by the Mets prior to Sunday's game.

Right-hander Kevin Mulvey earned honors as the Mets' Minor League Pitcher of the Year, after finishing 11-10 with a 3.32 ERA in 26 starts with Double-A Binghamton. Those numbers earned the New Jersey native a late-season promotion to New Orleans, where he tossed 13 shutout innings before season's end.

The Sterling Awards also honored the top player from each level of the Minor Leagues. For New Orleans, lefty Willie Collazo took the prize after posting a 2.46 ERA, mostly in relief. Binghamton's winner was right-hander Carlos Munez, who strung together a 2.45 ERA and 23 saves as the team's closer.

In Class A, third baseman Dan Murphy won for St. Lucie, outfielder Brahiam Maldonado for Savannah and pitcher Dylan Owen for Brooklyn. Owen was perhaps the team's most surprising prospect this year, as he went 9-1 with a 1.49 ERA for the Cyclones after the Mets selected him in the 20th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft in June.

In the Rookie Leagues, third baseman Jose Jimenez won for Kingsport, outfielder Ezequiel Carrera for the Gulf Coast Mets, outfielder Pedro Zapata in the Dominican Summer League, and shortstop Ruben Tejada in the Venezuelan Summer League.

This and that: While the Mets were imploding Sunday, Alou extended his hitting streak to 20 games, the longest active streak in the big leagues and the second-longest of his career. The Mets have had 12 streaks of 20 or more games. Alou, 41 years and 75 days old, is the oldest player with a hitting streak of 20 or more games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... The 11 walks allowed by the Mets on Sunday equaled a season high they set April 11 against the Phillies, in another game started by Perez. ... The Mets used eight pitchers, tying a club record. ... Mets vice president of media relations Jay Horwitz was inducted into the Fairleigh Dickinson University Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday. He had served the university as its first full-time sports information director from 1972-80. ... The Phillies swept two series at Shea this season.

This date in Mets history -- Sept. 16: The Mets lost, 10-3, to the Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium on this date in 1973 and fell 3 1/2 games from first place in the National League East with merely 12 games remaining. The Pirates scored five runs in three innings against Tom Seaver. The Mets (73-77 and trailing three teams) began a seven-game winning streak the following day.

Rusty Staub established a club record with his 98th RBI on Sept. 17, 1975, exceeding Donn Clendenon's 1970 total. He hit his 17th home run, against Ray Burris, in the Mets' 5-2 loss to the Cubs at Shea Stadium. Staub's final total of 105 RBIs stood as the club record -- Gary Carter tied it in 1986 -- until Darryl Strawberry drove in 108 in 1990. The club record, now 124, was set by Mike Piazza in 1999.

On this date in 1984, rookie Dwight Gooden struck out 16 batters for the second straight start to tie a Major League record of 32 strikeouts in consecutive games. He balked home the winning run in the eighth inning of a 2-1 loss to the Phillies at Veterans Stadium. The game was Gooden's fifth straight with at least 10 strikeouts.

The '86 Mets clinched the NL East on this date, beating the Cubs, 4-2, at Shea Stadium. With 17 games remaining, the Mets led the second-place Phillies by 19 games. Gooden pitched a complete game. Dave Magadan, in his first big league start, had three hits and two RBIs. He was removed in the eighth inning in favor of Keith Hernandez, who asked to be on the field for the clinching. Future Met Chico Walker grounded out to Wally Backman for the final out.

On this date in 2001, baseball solemnly returned to business six days after the attacks of 9/11. Native New Yorker John Franco, wearing an NYFD cap, emerged as the winning pitcher on his 41st birthday in the Mets' 4-1 victory against the Pirates at PNC Park.

Coming up: The Mets begin what might have been considered the downshift part of their schedule. Beginning Monday night in Washington, they play four series against the have-nots of the division and one makeup game against the faded and flawed Cardinals. The composite winning percentage of the three pending opponents is .454.

But with the Phillies closer than expected and El Duque's health an issue again, the first series at least, against the Nationals, has consequence. The Mets are to face left-handed Mike Bacsik and counter with Lawrence in the first of the three 7:05 p.m. ET games.

Marty Noble is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.