No conspiracy theories necessary, folks, El Duque’s return from a foot injury was Grade-A ugly, as the Braves pounded the Mets, 13-5, last night at Shea. And while it’s tough to fault the paying customers for getting a tad grumbly after the hosts fell behind, 9-0, what’s up with Hernandez getting booed?  Or Carlos Belran catching similar heat for taking called third strike with runners on 1st and 2nd?  Did a bunch of Jets fans get lost on the way home from East Rutherford?

El Duque is nothing short of magical in the postseason, and the Mets might not be looking at their 2nd consecutive NL East flag were it not for his acquisition in ’06.  Despite working through an injury-marred campaign, Carlos B. has knocked in 32 runs in his last 30 games and continues to show the sort of defensive chops no center fielder in club history has possesed (Brian McCann might be slower than slow, but Beltran’s throw to gun down the Braves receiver in the 2nd inning was fantastic).  Seriously, I’d hate to think Joe Benigno-Gazingo is an example of a patient, rational Mets fan.

The New York Post’s Joel Sherman
claims Tom Glavine “all but begged the Braves to return him to Atlanta to win his 300th game.”

Remove Glavine’s 13 wins and 23 quality starts (tied for third in the NL with Atlanta’s Tim Hudson, one behind Atlanta’s John Smoltz) and move them to the Braves, and Atlanta probably wins the division.

Hudson and Smoltz have combined to go 28-15 with a 3.26 ERA. The remaining Braves starters had gone 24-37 with a 5.64 ERA. The Braves have futilely tried to fill in the rotation with youth and journeymen, including Buddy Carlyle, who did not even get the win last night when his team scored 13 runs. The poor starts have overexposed a tepid Braves bullpen. Atlanta has craved durability and dependability, which is pretty much the thesaurus synonyms for Glavine, Tom.

Mex, somewhat in awe of his own improvisational abilities. Link swiped from Mets Blog.