I don’t wanna make too much of it, but I wasn’t sure whose losing streak would end first, the Knicks’ or the Mets. Only the most hysterical observer would call the latter’s season finished, just as you’d have to be higher than J.R. Rider to think a 1-5 start portends great things. But as morale boosts go, it doesn’t get much better than New York coming out on the winning end of an amazing Pedro Martinez/John Smoltz duel, the Mets’ new ace (above) earning a rare (for him and the team) complete game victory, allowing just 2 hits while striking out 9. Smoltz merely struck out 15 Mets, in a performance that echoed Steve Carlton’s September ’69, 19-strikeout masterpiece that was marred by a pair of Ron Swoboda homers.

Smoltz’ Swoboda turned out to be Carlos Beltran, whose 2 run blast in the top of the 8th came after the Atlanta pitcher had thrown 112 pitches, easily the highest total he’s accumulated in a few years. Martinez, by contrast, was the portrait of economy, not passing the magic 100 pitch count until late in the 9th inning.

Looking over the Mets’ individual performances from the past week, you’ve got to figure that if Jose Reyes keeps producing out of the leadoff spot and Beltran, Floyd, Piazza and Wright combine for 7 home runs every 6 games, losing 5 out of every 6 won’t happen very often. Losing 4 out of every 6 is still entirely possible, though.

And now we’re off to opening day at Shea, as Gloomy Tom Glavine will do battle with QuesTec, the home plate umpire, whatever unqualified person Willie Randolph puts in right field, a potentially deadly taxi ride to the ballpark, the lack of further footrubs from David Weathers….and not least of all, the Houston Astros.

On the subject of great pitching, please note that the Florida Unpatriotic Delgados collected their 3rd shutout of the week, Josh Beckett blanking the Nationals just two days after Dontrelle Willis did the same.