Hernandez Complete Game Just What the Doctor Ordered for Ailing Mets

Patrick MurraySenior Analyst IMay 27, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 28:  Livan Hernandez #61 of the New York Mets pitches against the Florida Marlins during their game on April 28, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Livan Hernandez couldn't have picked a better time to throw the New York Mets' (25-20) first complete game of the season.

After a tough West Coast road trip and a string of injuries, the Mets could use a break.

Hernandez gave the hurting Mets a huge lift with his complete game performance on Tuesday against the Washington Nationals (13-30).

Hernandez allowed just one run on an Adam Dunn homer while scattering nine hits and striking out six.

The injuries keep piling up for the Mets.

Just two opening day starters (David Wright and Luis Castillo) were in the lineup against the Nationals on Tuesday night.

The bad news on Tuesday: Jose Reyes and Ryan Church placed on the disabled list.

Carlos Beltran (bruised knee) will miss at least three games.

In the absence of the big offensive contributors, Gary Sheffield stepped up once again, delivering a three-run homer for the second straight game. Sheffield is hitting .415 since taking over the left field job on May 13.

In 11 games since that date, Sheff has hit four homers, driven in 12 runs, and scored 15 times.

Angel Pagan did his best Beltran impression while gunning down Josh Bard at the plate to keep the Nats off the scoreboard in the fifth (a pat on the back to Omir Santos for the block of the plate and the diving tag).

The bullpen got a much needed rest Tuesday, and could get another one in the final game of the series with Johan Santana on the mound.

Hernandez has boosted the Mets spirits, and now they get to send their ace to the mound.

You know Santana (6-2, 1.50 ERA) will be fired up and ready to go on Wednesday. With three of their superstars out of the lineup, the Mets need him badly.

Santana always responds best in these situations, (remember 9/27/08 vs Florida?) so look for an epic performance.

The upcoming schedule could soften the blow of the Mets' injury problems. New York will play its next 11 games against Washington, Florida, and Pittsburgh. Those three teams are a combined 55-83 (.399) this season.

Following that stretch, the Philadelphia Phillies will make their second trip to Citi Field on June 9.

By that time, Reyes will be eligible to come off the DL and both he and Beltran should be back in the lineup.

What to watch for over the next few days:

Fernando Martinez will likely continue to play right field for the Mets. He went 0-3 with an RBI on Tuesday. If the highly touted prospect catches fire, maybe he'll stick around in the big leagues.

The first base situation.

It looks like the Jeremy Reed Experiment is finally over.

Daniel Murphy looked outstanding defensively at first over the weekend. However, he is struggling mightily at the plate. Murph went just 1-15 (.067) in four games at first base during the road trip. The left-handed hitting Murphy rode the bench for the second straight game on Tuesday, despite there being a righty on the mound.

Fernando Tatis is not doing much better at the plate, hitting .245 with one homer in 53 May at bats. I would like to see Murphy get a chance to play through his slump, especially with his outstanding defensive play at first.

At the same time, I love having Tatis' hustle and potential power in the lineup. The Mets will face righty Jordan Zimmerman on Wednesday.

How will Bobby Parnell recover from a rough outing?

Parnell surrendered three walks and a run in just a third of an inning versus Washington on Monday. Let's hope he can bounce back quickly like he did after his last poor outing.

After blowing a two run lead in San Francisco, Parnell responded with 3 IP, 0 walks, and 4 K's in his next three appearances until Monday's mishap.


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