Even Mets make way back to Shea

Even Mets return to Shea for homestand

DENVER -- Out west in Colorado, where the weather is drier and the air is thinner, the Mets moved on. Thousands of miles served to insulate them from most of their fans, and in turn, those fans from most of the drama. Former manager Willie Randolph's dismissal came in Anaheim -- an ocean away from the comfort of Shea Stadium -- and much of the fallout occurred here, at Coors Field, a full mile above sea level.

Yet the last time Shea's fans saw the Mets, this was a team in disarray. It was a club with an embattled manager and an uncertain future, and a team that didn't appear to be on any sort of course toward stability. But those were Randolph's Mets. These are Jerry Manuel's Mets. And their reception back home might reveal a difference.

"The tremendous fans that we have there are passionate about winning, period," Manuel said. "We have to get into that mindset that we've got to do everything for them to get that done."

Booing had become reality for the Mets back home, and certainly might continue if the middling play that defined their first two and a half months returns. But the leash has been lengthened. With change comes a grace period -- however short that may be.

The Mets' homestand includes three games against the Mariners, followed by four against the Yankees. Throughout the week, they'll continue grappling with the .500 mark, attempting to stay on the plus side for good. And if they do, the boos might vanish -- perhaps also for good.

"I don't know if it drains a team as much as it affects that individual," Manuel said. "But in saying that, we have to get to the point to where when they boo one, they're booing all of us. And we have to understand that and stay close-knit, and be able to deal with that as we go forth."

The Mariners come to Shea in a similar situation. Two days after the Mets dismissed Randolph, the Mariners did the same to their manager, John McLaren. Though they also promoted their bench coach to take his spot, the Mariners haven't responded quite as well to Jim Riggleman as the Mets have to Manuel, entering New York having lost three of their last four games.

Monday's game showcases each team's ace, with right-hander Felix Hernandez starting for the Mariners opposite Johan Santana.

Pitching matchup
NYM: LHP Johan Santana (7-5, 3.04 ERA)
The Angels battered Santana for five runs -- four of them earned -- in six innings last Tuesday in Anaheim. Santana allowed at least one baserunner in each of those innings, eventually losing his second straight decision. The Mets have lost each of the last three games that Santana has started, despite the fact that he allowed a combined two runs over the previous two. His next chance for a victory comes in Interleague play against the Mariners, a team that hasn't beaten him since 2002.

SEA: RHP Felix Hernandez (6-5, 2.87 ERA)
Hernandez is still having a little trouble with his right calf, but it doesn't seem to affect the quality of his pitching. He has won his past four starts while allowing three earned runs -- all of them in his last start against the Marlins on Tuesday. Hernandez is shutting down most of the right-handed bats that come up against him, allowing a .213 average. He is also continually pitching deep into games and saving Seattle's bullpen.

Tidbits
Outfielder Ryan Church, on the disabled list with post-concussion syndrome, is set to join the Mets for batting practice Monday. From there, he will head to Class A Brooklyn for a series of rehab games, before rejoining the club as soon as this weekend. ... Manuel said he plans to progress this season without the expectation that injured outfielder Moises Alou might return. "I probably have to plan that way, but I would hope differently," he said. ... Mariners outfielder Raul Ibanez holds a .400 average in 30 career at-bats off Santana, though only one of those hits, a home run, went for extra bases.

Tickets
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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• SNY

On radio
• WFAN 660, WADO 1280 (Español)

Up next
• Tuesday: Mets (Oliver Perez, 5-4, 5.06) vs. Mariners (R.A. Dickey, 1-3, 5.57), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Mets (John Maine, 7-5, 3.78) vs. Mariners (Erik Bedard, 4-4, 3.97), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Off-day

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.