Earlier this week, I castigated Jose Reyes for trying to stretch a double into a triple with no one out in the 5th inning of Monday’s game against the Nationals.

To hear Phil Mushnick tell it, Reyes’ mistake wasn’t in making the first out of the inning at 3rd during a close game, but rather, a lack of hustle the NY Post columnist claims is a long-standing Mets trait.

Reyes, who figured he had flied out, didn’t immediately run to first. He was tagged out between second and third. (Chris Russo, author of authoritative sports books, please note: Reyes was credited with a double, not a power-play goal.)

On SNY, Gary Cohen declared: “That’s one of those things that Willie Randolph tends to handle so well. He’s going to go to Reyes at some point, either during the game or after the game, and have a little chat about that.”

Oh, come on. For starters, Monday was the second time this season Reyes similarly cost the Mets. Beyond that, there’s no reason to believe Randolph, in his second season, will be any more successful getting players to actually run to the next base than he was last season.

Beyond that, Cohen has been calling Mets games since 1988. Outside of whatever team Manny Ramirez plays for, it’s difficult to imagine a team that has allowed indifferent baserunning to cost it more, from Rickey Henderson, to Mike Piazza, to Reyes. Heck, the Mets lost a World Series game against the Yankees because Timo Perez stopped running.

If Randolph has succeeded where Art Howe, Bobby Valentine, Jeff Torborg and others before him failed, there’s only evidence to the contrary.

This evening, during the bottom of the 3rd and the Mets trailing the Braves, 2-1, Carlos Beltran — recently activated after re-injuring his hamstring — reached first after hustling down the first base line on what looked like a tailor-made 4-6-3 double play. Moments later, the Mets scored the game’s tying run when Atlanta’s Kyle Davies (above) walked David Wright with the bases loaded.

In the interests of fairness, I look forward to Phil’s column on Monday, when he’ll surely acknowledge that at least one of Willie Randolph’s players isn’t a fundamental dunderhead. That is, assuming he’s managed to stay up past 8:30 pm EST.

Tonight classic exchange from the SNY booth :

Gary Cohen revealed the answer to Friday’s AFLAC trivia question, “Who Is The Last Player To Start The Season With A Hitting Streak Longer Than 19 Games?” was Steve Garvey, who had a 21 game streak at the begining of the 1978 campaign.

Mex : In ’78, Steve was in his prime.

Ralph Kiner : …and he was an outstanding first baseman. One time here at Shea, Steve Garvey and Don Sutton got in a big fight in the clubhouse…it was over a girl. Can you imagine that?

Cohen : It’s hard to believe.