All it took was a rare sweep at Turner Field and a subsequent Pedro Martinez victory in his first appearance in over a year for the Mets to turn their disappearing NL East lead over Philadelphia into a robust 5 game advantage. Well, that and the Phillies coming back to earth since their midweek throttling of the Mets.

Calling Martinez, “an absolute artist, baseball’s answer to Billie Holiday or Muhammed Ali,” the New York Sun’s Tim Marchman surveyed Pedro’s 5 innings in a 10-4 defeat of the Reds and declares, ” Martinez’s day will one day end, but to judge by his performance yesterday, it won’t happen soon.”

With multiple pitches working in different registers, reasonable command, and all the playful aggression with which he’s always pitched, Martinez looked yesterday to be near ready to pitch through October. That doesn’t mean he is. He’s limited to 75 pitches right now, and we can’t assume he’ll get stronger down the stretch. There’s a chance that as he regains his feel for his pitches he’ll sharpen his control and movement, but also a chance that he may not, and that some may just go missing, perhaps often. And against a lineup featuring fewer batters with huge holes in their swings, he wouldn’t have looked so strong. Griffey and Adam Dunn didn’t do much with some pitches and sequences that Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz would have just scoffed at.

The Mets don’t need, and no one expects, the brilliant Pedro of 2000. We may never see such a pitcher again. The hopes, in order, were that the man wouldn’t show up on the mound a burnout, and that he’d have enough life in his arm to make his genius relevant. Put another way, the hopes were that he would do nothing to diminish his legend, and that he’d show himself ready to add to it. He didn’t disappoint; but then again, he never does.

While I don’t disagree, I would like to submit Aarong Harang as baseball’s answer (for one day, anyway) to Tex Cobb.

Newsday’s Ken Davidoff asks, “If you had to pick one major-league pitcher for this precise situation – physically diminished, dropped into the middle of a pennant race – would you choose anyone over Pedro?”

Yeah, actually. So it’s a good thing the Mets already have El Duque.

The Mets’ Triple-A affiliate New Orleans Zephyrs clinched a spot in the PCL playoffs with Sunday night’s 10-2 victory at Round Rock, a contest marked by 6 scoreless innngs (2 hits) from Z’s starter Kevin Mulvey. I missed last night’s regular season finale between New Orleans and the Express and while I realize this will come across as heresy to some, there are things in this world more important than catching up with Fernando Tatis.

I can’t actually tell you what any of them are, but I’m sure there are least a half dozen.