The Full Count: Pedro drives Mets to 5 game lead


1. Pedro Returns: The Mets’ Pedro Martinez made his first start since last September, picking up a personal milestone and giving the Mets another win in the process. Working with a 75-pitch limit, Pedro threw five innings, striking out four to give him 3,000 K’s in his career. He became the 15th member of the 3,000 strikeout club, as well as about the twentieth player to reach a major milestone this year. Martinez received plenty of support from the Mets’ offense in their 10-4 victory. Moises Alou went 3-3 with a homer, and David Wright and Carlos Delgado also went deep. With their fourth win in a row and 77th on the year, New York has the best record in the National League and the fourth-best mark in the majors. They now hold a comfortable 5-game lead on the Phillies, who were within two games of New York last week but have lost three in a row. If Pedro can stay healthy for the postseason (which he failed to do last year), the Mets have all the tools they need to win the NL pennant.

2. Santana’s Achilles Heel: Johan Santana would be having a great season if he didn’t have to face the Indians so many times. The two-time Cy Young winner is 14-11, with an 0-5 mark against Cleveland. According to ESPN, this marks the first time a reigning Cy Young winner put up an 0-5 mark against one team. Santana allowed four runs in six innings on Monday as he was greatly outdeuled by CC Sabathia. Sabathia had eight scoreless innings in the Indians’ 5-0 win as he improved to 16-7. Meanwhile, Santana gave up four runs for the third straight start as he continues to uncharacteristically struggle since the All Star break. He is 3-5 with a 4.22 ERA since the break, compared with a 32-3 record and 1.78 ERA after the break the previous three seasons. Santana is still having a great season, as he is second in the league in strikeouts, first in WHIP, and third in ERA. He is just being let down by his offense, which has put up an average of 2 runs a game in his losses. All things considered, however, the Cy Young will probably be headed elsewhere this season.

3. The Struggles of the Rocket: Though the expectations of him were far too high, Roger Clemens has still been a disappointment for the New York Yankees. The $28 million man has been merely average, with a 6-6 record and 4.45 ERA. His problem has been consistency; while he looks excellent in some starts, he seems pedestrian in others. On Monday, Clemens gave up five runs in four innings in a 7-1 loss to Seattle. Ichiro homered off Roger and Felix Hernandez outpitched him as the Yankees lost game one of an important series. The Mariners pulled within one game of New York for the wild card lead, finally snapping a nine-game losing streak. Clemens will undergo an MRI exam on his elbow after feeling some pain in it during the game. The Yankees need Mike Mussina to be back in the rotation and pitching well; otherwise they might not even reach October.

Player of the Day: Mike Lowell, Red Sox: 3-4, HR (18), 4 RBIs in a 13-10 win over the Blue Jays. Lowell became the seventh player this season to reach 100 RBIs. He is also among the league leaders with a .333 average.

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