Before moving to the happy subject of the Mets’ return to form this afternoon, I’d like to apologize to “Baseball Tonight”‘s Jeff Brantley, a frequent subject of ridicule at Chez CSTB.

Though he’s intolerably poor as a baseball analyst, Brantley’s work as a character actor on “The Wire” and “Homicide: Life On The Street” is first rate. I say this in the nicest way possible —- Jeff, please give up your day job!

As the Phillies’ 13-7 record since the Bobby Abreu trade was noted, Tim Kurkjiian pondered the puzzler, “dare we ask the question, are the Phillies a better team?”. Replied Kurkjiian, “I don’t think we can ask that question. That doesn’t make much sense to trade your best all-around player and then do better without him.”

Tim wasn’t asked if the trade made sense or if the intent of the deal was for the Phillies to get worse. But here’s another — on a team featuring Chase Utley and Ryan Howard (who hit his 42nd HR today off John Maine), was the low-power / high OBP / fence-phobic Abreu really the Phillies’ best all-around player?

Carlos D. entered today’s matinee at CBP mired in a 2-for-30 slump, as well as having gone without a homer since July 30. He ended the day with a pair of home runs, a triple and 4 RBI’s in the Mets’ 7-2 win. The first of Delgado’s two blasts, a 3rd inning drive to centerfield off Philly starter Scott Mathieson, was just your typical 450 feet rocket. The first baseman’s 2nd round-tripper followed a solo shot by Carlos Beltran, and was the very definition of a line drive HR — the moment Delgado made contact, it didn’t seem there’d be any chance the ball would clear the right field fence (which it did, narrowly).

San Francisco’s Matt Cain took a no-hitter into the 6th inning today against the Padres, a game the Giants would eventually win, 8-4. Cain’s bid was broken up by Josh Bard’s bloop single, and let this be a lesson to all of you. Fuck with the Air Traffic Controllers, and somewhere down the line, you’re gonna pay.

Thanks in no small part to a putrid showing by Jaret Wright, the Yankees (12-3 losers to the Orioles on Thursday) find themselves a mere 1 1/2 games ahead of Boston entering this weekend’s 5 game series at Fenway.

2002 AL Rookie Of The Year-turned platoony marooney OF/3B Eric Hinske was traded today from Toronto to Boston. In addition to providing Boston with a left-handed PH option, the Boston Globe’s David Lefort tips Gabe Kapler as the most likely candidate for demotion.

Former Rangers/A’s/Tigers 1B Carlos Pena signed a minor league deal with Boston today. Previously this season, Pena had hit 19 HR’s and drove in 66 runs for Columbus, but had an out-clause in his Yankee deal that was exercised last week.

Days after I rushed to Kaz Matsui’s defense, there’s talk of the former Mets 2B/SS returning to Japan next season. Not very hopeful talk, either.