Orlando Hernandez will get the start for the Mets tonight against the Fish, and while Jason Vargas will be sent back to New Orleans, Rick Peterson suggests to the New York Post’s Mark Hale that El Duque will not be on a pitch count Friday evening.

Hernandez, who was on the DL with bursitis in his right shoulder, last pitched on April 24. Recently, he threw two simulated games (the most recent on Sunday) as well as a bullpen session on Tuesday. Both Randolph and pitching coach Rick Peterson expect Hernandez to be able to last his typical length. Hernandez threw seven innings in three of his five Mets starts this season and tossed between 91 and 104 pitches in all of them.

“He’s ready to pitch on normal volume,” Peterson said.

While Willie Randolph seems to characterize last night’s 2-1 loss to Atlanta and John Smoltz (career win no. 200 for the latter) as a matter of the Braves “wanting it just a little more,” the Journal News’ John Delcos begs to differ :

All year when the Mets have looked sluggish it has been because of their inability to manufacture runs and hit with men in scoring position. They were 1-for-9 in that situation last night.

To me, that was the game. David Wright getting punched out to end the third with the bases loaded was the play of the game.

If the Mets were flat it was because John Smoltz made it look that way. Randolph did not elaborate his comments when asked. I am sure he will be asked again today.

David Wright was rung up on a disputed checked swing, and It’s Mets For Me can barely stand to watch the replay.

This umpiring crew, who shall go unnamed, is like a Mets Rouges Gallery. But they were beyond bad last night. Balls, strikes, pick offs, punch outs, they flubbed it all. I bet they didn’t even dust off homeplate. It was enough to piss off the Pope. It is unbelievable that they get away with it. As John Smoltz might say, “what’s next, marrying an animal?”

I said last night to no one in particular, that shit happens to the Br*ves and Bobby Cox is out there as fast as his 79 year old hips will carry him. Why does he do it? I imagine a shrewd manager who goes balistic on an obviously flubbed call is not only firing up his team, but putting social pressure on the ump in front of thousands of fans to make the next call in his team’s favor; by the way, there was an opportunity for payback in this game.

As for the argument that Willie needs to keep his composure if he wants to impersonate the manager of a first place team, I say nonsense. If Willie lays down, shows no passion, and stays in the dugout like a scared rabbit, if he is the true leader of the squad, you have to think that perhaps they will follow his lead. David Wright obviously was passionate about the call, at least. And if Willie is going to continue to make questionable tactical decisions (batting Franco, not calling for a bunt), than some would argue he needs to get his WWF on and do something to help his team, like protect Wright, who obviously had no compunction about showing passion, after that horrendous call.

While I’m not about to throw myself out the window over the Mets having lost 6 of 9 to the Braves this season (mostly because I live on the ground floor), I can only admire the calm resolve of SNY’s Gary Cohen, who took time out from last night’s crucial encounter to laugh at the Nationals giving former Met Mike Bacsik a start. Sure enough, Bacsik was the winning pitcher in DC’s 4-3 defeat of the Reds, a result that left Cincinnati with the worst record in the National League (18-30).