DENVER-- "We were unprepared." That's what Mets manager Jerry Manuel said after their 5-2 loss to the Nationals on Sunday afternoon at Citi Field.
The Mets entered this season hoping that their starting pitchers could find some magic, revert to old form and proven potential.
They hoped that they'd get off to a fast start, especially with 16 of their first 22 games of the season at home.
What they didn't hope for, was a losing opening homestand and a finale in which they were called out for being unprepared.
Can the Mets find their way on this roadtrip? Maybe getting away from home is just what the doctor ordered. What they don't have going for them is confidence after an opening game, after losing both series following a game one victory.
The Mets need to do better than 2-4 on this roadtrip, otherwise they're in big time trouble. They'll kick it off hoping for the same results as past openers, as they'll send John Maine to the mound against Rockies starter Greg Smith.
Maine had a poor showing in his first start on Wednesday against the Marlins. He allowed four runs on eight hits in five innings of work, throwing 92 pitches.
Maine's pitch count has always been a problem. In 2008 and 2009, Maine got into a habit of allowing hitters to foul pitches off at an extremely high rate.
What he has to do is keep his pitch count down, regain his 2007 velocity of throwing in the mid-to-upper 90s, and use his running fastball more often against righties.
It won't be easy doing so against a Rockies team with hitters like Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler.
If he wants some run support, he ought to get it. Opposing Maine on the mound will be Greg Smith who didn't pitch in the big leagues in all of 2009. His last big league season was in 2008 with the Oakland A's. That year he started all 32 games, going 7-16 with a 4.16 ERA, although he allowed less hits than innings pitched.
But we've seen the Mets go flat against mediocre starters before. In fact, we saw it as recent as Thursday, when the Mets went flat against Marlins hurler Nate Robertson.
If the Mets can forge a lead heading into the later innings, they should be pretty confident, as they boast baseball's best bullpen ERA.
The Mets know they can't fall too far behind. They can't go 2-4 again or even worse 1-5. If so, who will be the Mets manager at their next home game? Probably still Jerry Manuel, but it's worth a debate isn't it?
John Maine vs. Colorado (career)
2-1, 2.66 ERA, 20.1 IP, 16 hits, 9 BB, 19 SO
Greg Smith vs. New York (career)
Has never faced the Mets
2009 season series (New York vs. Colorado)
New York won series 4-3