The Mets know they'll improve once they heal, but that's hardly comforting. The Phillies are winning, and if the Mets wait until they're healthy to do likewise, it may be too late to threaten for the National League East title.
And so when the Mets head south to Baltimore for a quick Interleague road trip, they'll do so with an unseasonal bit of urgency. Manager Jerry Manuel's contention is that as long as more than 100 games remain -- and 101 are left to this point -- then there's no reason to worry.
"We'll be fine," is Manuel's new chorus, one he used even after the Mets fell four games behind the Phillies on Sunday. "As long as we're in that 100-game range, I think we have time."
After Tuesday's series opener in Baltimore, the Mets will have hit the border of that 100-game range -- meaning it's up to Mike Pelfrey to deliver them past it in a less precarious position. After Monday's off-day, Pelfrey will attempt to further rest a bullpen that faced 32 batters in Sunday's loss, which saw ace Johan Santana last three-plus innings.
"I hope I can give them another day off," Pelfrey said. "I'm going to be aggressive and try to throw strikes, and we'll see what happens."
The Mets, in their injured state, will also benefit greatly from another series in an American League park. Not knowing the extent of Gary Sheffield's right knee injury, Manuel plans on using Sheffield exclusively at designated hitter in the series.
And because the Mets will face three right-handed starting pitchers -- Jeremy Guthrie, Koji Uehara and Jason Berken, in order -- Daniel Murphy will play at first base all week. That will allow Manuel to determine whether Murphy -- who left the weekend in a 1-for-12 slump, hitting .147 over his past 14 games -- is still the best option at the position on a daily basis.
The Mets wouldn't have that problem if Delgado were healthy, just as they wouldn't have to rely so heavily on Sheffield and Fernando Tatis and Alex Cora. But sympathy is hardly the answer for a team that desperately needs to win games.
"We have to regroup," said Santana. "We have to play better."
BAL: RHP Jeremy Guthrie (4-6, 5.52 ERA)
NYM: RHP Mike Pelfrey (4-2, 4.68 ERA)
Pelfrey was locked in for the first six innings against the Phillies on Wednesday, allowing two hits and one run. Things unraveled in the seventh, though; he surrendered three hits before being removed. All three runners scored, eliminating Pelfrey's chance for a fifth win. Now, Pelfrey makes his first career start at Camden Yards and against the Orioles. He has a 2-0 record and a 6.00 ERA in three career Interleague starts, all on the road. The right-hander's road ERA in 27 innings this season is 6.33.
The struggles continued for Guthrie in his most recent start. The right-hander pitched six innings -- 5 1/3 innings more than he had in his previous start -- but he took his second successive loss, his fifth in six decisions. Guthrie surrendered two more home runs, too. He led the American League in home runs allowed through Sunday, having surrendered 16 in 73 1/3 innings.
In eight starts at Camden Yards this season, Guthrie is 3-3 with a 3.94 ERA. Right-handed hitters are batting .309 against him.
The Mets acquired infielder Javier Castillo from the White Sox on Sunday and assigned him to the roster of their Buffalo affiliate in the Triple-A International League. To make roster room, the club released outfielder Jason Cooper. Castillo, 25, had spent the entire season with Chicago's Triple-A Charlotte affiliate and had batted .262 with 11 doubles, two triples, two home runs and 15 RBIs in 168 at-bats.
This day in Mets history -- June 16: Seventeen days before his stunning two-grand slam, nine-RBI game against the Giants, Braves pitcher Tony Cloninger hit two home runs and drove in five runs in a 17-1 victory over the Mets in Atlanta on this date in 1966. Cloninger, who made three starts and one pinch-hit appearance in between his two monster games, drove in 18 runs in a 22-at-bat sequence over 18 days. Henry Aaron, who led the NL in RBIs in 1966, drove in seven runs in 57 at-bats in the same period.
Even a broken clock is right twice a day, which explains how these two phenomena happened in one game on this date in 1979. Kevin Kobel pitched a three-hit, no-walk shutout and Doug Flynn hit a home run in the Mets' 2-0 victory against the Braves at Shea Stadium. Kobel posted a 12-18 record in three seasons with Joe Torre's Mets, and Flynn hit seven home runs in 3,853 career at-bats.
The 1986 Mets extended a winning streak to seven games on this date, scoring three times against Jeff Reardon in the 10th inning to beat the Expos, 4-1, in Montreal. ... Four years later, the Mets suffered their lone loss in a 16-game sequence under new manager Bud Harrelson that propelled them from fourth place and 7 1/2 games behind the first-place Pirates to a tie for first with Pittsburgh. ... In 1993 on this date, the Mets beat the Braves in Atlanta behind Frank Tanana, the lone victory in a 14-game sequence that left them 27 games under .500 and 27 1/2 games behind the first-place Phillies.
And on this date in 1997, Dave Mlicki, who never had pitched a complete game in 47 career starts, pitched a nine-hit shutout at Yankee Stadium in the first Interleague New York game. John Olerud drove in three runs in the 6-0 victory witnessed by 56,188 mostly frantic bipartisan fans. The following day, Newsday columnist Steve Jacobson wrote, "The House That Ruth Built was the house divided."
On the Internet
Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.
Official game notes
WFAN 660, WADO 1280 (Español)
Wednesday: Mets (Tim Redding, 0-2, 6.18) at Orioles (Koji Uehara, 2-4, 4.37), 7:05 p.m. ET
Thursday: Mets (Livan Hernandez, 5-1, 4.33) at Orioles (Jason Berken, 1-3, 7.32), 7:05 p.m. ET
Friday: Mets (Fernando Nieve, 1-0, 2.08) vs. Rays (Andy Sonnanstine, 5-6, 6.65), 7:10 p.m. ET