Notes: Lo Duca goes off duty early

Notes: Lo Duca goes off duty early

WASHINGTON -- Paul Lo Duca was miffed when he was removed from the game in the sixth inning on Monday night. Teammates said as much following the Mets' unbecoming 12-4 loss to the Nationals. Lo Duca had been double-switched out of the lineup when Jorge Sosa was summoned to pitch, because the ninth spot in the order was due to bat second in the top of the seventh inning.

Mike DiFelice was inserted in the ninth position and Sosa in Lo Duca's seventh slot.

But when DiFelice was due to bat in the seventh, manager Willie Randolph had Ruben Gotay pinch-hit for him. Randolph's explanation was: "We had enough catchers."

Since the 25-man roster was expanded on Sept. 1, the Mets have four catchers, including Ramon Castro, who replaced Gotay in the bottom of the seventh.

Lo Duca declined to comment on the change. But teammates acknowledged his anger and some confusion. Gotay could just as easily have pinch-hit for Sosa if no double-switch was made.

Wright measures up: If runs produced is a legitimate measure of offensive prowess -- and not everyone sees it that way -- David Wright is among the elite offensive players in the National League this season. Runs plus RBIs minus home runs is the formula that denies a hitter double credit for home runs. And it put Wright's runs produced through Sunday at 168, the third-highest total in the league.

The home run that Wright hit on Sunday to become a 30-30 man also pushed his runs total to 100 -- a personal first for the Mets third baseman -- and his RBI total to 98.

Rockies outfielder Matt Holliday, the league's RBI leader with 122, had the most runs produced through Sunday (197), and Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who leads the league in runs scored with 127, has 185.

Two more RBIs will make Wright the third player in the league with at least 100 runs and 100 RBIs. Holliday and Reds left fielder Adam Dunn already have at least 100 of each.

Wright scored his 101st run in the first inning on Monday night -- not that anyone noticed. He scored when Carlos Beltran hit his 30th home run off Nationals right-hander Tim Redding. The two RBIs pushed Beltran's RBI total for the season to 101. Beltran has driven in at least 100 runs seven times in his career.

Beltran, who produced a 30-30 season with the Royals and Astros in 2004, began the game on Monday night with 23 steals.

Timing is everything: Randolph said Brian Lawrence -- not Philip Humber -- was chosen to start the game on Monday, because he was "on turn" to start. Lawrence was scheduled to start on Saturday for Triple-A New Orleans, but the Zephyrs lost in the Pacific Coast League finals on Friday.

"So he just threw a bullpen [session on Saturday]," Randolph said, "and he's ready to go."

Humber has pitched merely three innings in two relief appearances since his callup on Sept. 1.

Not given to extremes: This is the middle-of-the road reaction to the pennant race that Randolph spoke about before the game on Monday: "If we smell the roses and sip some champagne, so be it. If not, that's life."

A day earlier, one of the Mets said: "We play at the temperature of the manager. I know Willie cares a lot, but he's not showing it much."

This and that: Through Sunday, the Cubs were the only first-place team in the big leagues with a home winning percentage lower than the Mets' -- .520 to the Mets' .541. And the Mets had the highest road percentage, .581. The Red Sox's .573 was the second-highest. ... Randolph said Carlos Delgado almost certainly will not play in this series against the Nats, but perhaps in the four-game weekend set in Miami against the Marlins. .... Nothing was said -- not even a whisper of likelihood connected to it -- but when Randolph gave an example of a pitcher not starting in the playoffs, the names he mentioned were John Maine and Oliver Perez, the Mets' two leading winners. But at this point, all thoughts about the postseason rotation are on hold because of Orlando Hernandez's ailing right foot and because the Mets' magic number to clinch the NL East is the same as it was on Wednesday night, 11. ... Randolph also reiterated that Pedro Martinez will be afforded an extra day of rest whenever possible.

This date in Mets history -- Sept. 18: The Polo Grounds closed its doors to big league baseball on this date in 1963, following the Mets' 5-1 loss to the Phillies. Ted Schreiber, an infielder who played only in 1963, grounded into a double play for the final outs. Attendance: 1,752. ... Six years later on this date, Ed Kranepool hit a bases-empty home run and a run-scoring single, and Tom Seaver pitched a five-hitter in the Mets' 5-0 victory against the Expos in Montreal. The shutout, the Mets' second straight, put their lead over the second-place Cubs at five games with 13 left to play. The Mets pitched nine shutouts in their final 20 games.

A five-run rally in the top of the ninth carried the Mets to a 6-5 victory against the first-place Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium on this date in 1973. The victory, the first of seven straight, moved the fourth-place Mets to within 2 1/2 games of the Pirates. ... A day after clinching the division championship, the '86 Mets beat the Cubs and their rookie starter, Greg Maddux, 5-0, at Shea Stadium. ... On Sept. 18, 1988, the Mets defeated the Expos, 5-3, at Shea for their 10th victory in a 16-2 run that ended with them 14 games ahead of the second-place Pirates with the NL East championship secured. ... Leading 6-4 with John Franco pitching, the Mets allowed three runs in the ninth inning and lost, 7-6, to the Marlins at Shea on this date in 1998. They would lose their final five games and miss tying for the NL Wild Card by one game. But the loss to the Marlins in their 155th game was the one that they lamented most.

Coming up: Maine (14-9, 3.72 ERA) continues the unannounced auditioning for a place on the postseason roster on Tuesday night, when he starts against the Nationals at 7:05 ET in Washington. Right-handed rookie Joel Hanrahan (4-3, 5.83) goes for the Nats.

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