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Aftermath: Astros 4, Mets 0

I'd like to say that Mike Pelfrey pitched better last night than he had for most of his other starts this season, and I guess in some respects that wouldn't be a complete misrepresentation of his performance. He struck out five batters to just two walks, a ratio far better than his season mark of 0.80 (four strikeouts for every five walks). Yet, for a supposed groundball pitcher he allowed an awful lot of flyballs: seven compared to six on the ground. Not terribly skewed, but a sinkerballer really needs to be pounding that ball into the ground, not leaving it up in the zone so Lance Berkman can poke it into the Crawford Boxes.

In fairness to Pelfrey, he was hardly the reason the Mets lost. His margin for error was rendered nil thanks to another anemic effort by the Mets' punchless offense. The inimitable Wandy Rodriguez shut down the Mets, tossing a complete game shutout and allowing just four hits and a walk while striking out eight. Jose Reyes added insult to [insert whatever you call being embarrassed for the fourth time in five games; not injury, but something else] by not running out a grounder for the second time in a week. Willie Randolph immediately yanked him from the game, in what was absolutely the right move from a team leadership standpoint. Randolph pulled no punches afterwards:

"The message is going to be loud and clear for anyone. It doesn't matter who it is. You don't get after it every day and bust your butt and play hard, you sit. That's all.

He usually plays hard all the time. That's the key. Play hard all the time. Okay? There are times where you get a little frustrated when you pop a ball up. We've all been there. We've all done that. I'm not talking about that. But when you're the heart and soul of this team - and we all expect everyone to work hard and play hard - then I want to see the effort. I'm not going to tolerate that from anyone. Anybody who plays for me is going to know they're going to play hard, run hard."

Insolence of any kind shant be tolerated, and it was important for Randolph to nip the Mets' recent bout of halfassedness in the proverbial bud.

The Braves won again and now find themselves just a pair of games behind the Mets. Even in the worst case scenario -- the Mets drop the final two games in Houston and the Braves complete a sweep in San Diego -- the Mets would still head into the All Star break in first place, albeit by the slimmest of percentage point margins. It'd be really nice if they could pull their shit together and win the next couple of games and the Braves lose one or both of their remaining two. The Mets are sending three starters to San Francisco for the mid-summer "classic", so there is no rest for the weary.

Well, get over this one fast because there's another one in a few hours. Tom Glavine goes for win number 298. Again.