By Mike Steffanos
Game 18: Cubs 7 - Mets 1
It's obvious that John Maine still lacks the sharpness he had this spring, but for all of that the results haven't been too bad after four starts. Other than his terrible first game against the Braves, Maine has pitched well enough to win his last 3 outings -- all of which he went at least 6 innings into and allowed 2 runs or less. Sadly, the Mets offense has managed to win only one of those for him. Frustrating, yes, but there also hope that when Maine finds his groove and the bats come alive he might put a nice run of wins up there.
Carlos Zambrano was a little sharper than Maine was last night. He also benefitted from a Mets offense that seemed to be experiencing a hangover from their late arrival into Chicago. Then again, you have so many guys on this team who are struggling that it's hard to tell what was fatigue and what was simply a continuation of early season struggles.
Speaking of which, Carlos Delgado and Luis Castillo actually managed a hit each last night. That put them up there as offensive stars of the game for a Mets offense which managed only one run and five hits. Castillo was actually on base twice, earning a walk to go with his base knock.
Aaron Heilman seems to have earned his share of the blame for letting the game slip irrevocably away in the eighth. That wasn't all that fair. Jose Reyes misplayed a routine grounder for an error, then Heilman let a changeup get away and hit a batter, and finally Fukudome worked a long AB into a soft single in the hole to load the bases. Aaron came back to strike out the next two, but then DeRosa beat him for the game-breaker. It wasn't a terrible performance by Heilman, though I certainly agree that it wasn't good enough. Still, some of the venom spewed against him is really unfair. I do agree that Willie is using him too much, but the extra innings games and scarcity of blowout wins contribute to that.
I hope they can bounce back this afternoon against Ted Lilly with Figueroa on the mound. You hate to see them follow a nice 5-game win streak with 3 straight losses, but in a way that's what the Mets are right now. It's been an inconsistent start to the year. Like Forest Gump with his box of chocolates, when you turn on a Mets game this year you don't know quite what you're going to get.