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10/14/06 2:34 AM ET

Mailbag: Second-guessing Game 2

Barry M. Bloom answers fans' questions about the NLCS

NEW YORK -- A sampling of the e-mails sent in before and during Game 2 of the National League Championship Series between the Cardinals and Mets at Shea Stadium:

What is the rule that makes Scott Spiezio's seventh-inning shot a triple? I understand that the ball hit Shawn Green's glove prior to hitting the black right-field wall. So how does this end up a triple? Is the umpire a Mets fan?
-- Casey H.

The right-field umpire, Tim Welke, determined the ball hit the top of the fence and came back into play without hitting the black wall behind it. Several television replays were inconclusive, but one from directly above seemed to show that the ball did indeed hit the top of the fence after it deflected off Green's glove and came back into play. Correctly, the six umpires on the field conferred after Cards manager Tony La Russa protested the call and confirmed Welke's original decision. It seemed like the correct call and no, the umpires aren't Mets fans.

I'm watching the game and I am just wondering what Willie Randolph is thinking, not taking out John Maine in the second inning. The bullpen has had a lot of rest, so you can have Darren Oliver coming in for three or four innings.
-- Ben C.

By what the Mets manager was saying after the game, it seems like Randolph wasn't eager to dip into his bullpen that early, not with starts from Steve Trachsel and Oliver Perez coming up in the next two days. Randolph noted that Maine was struggling all through the second and third innings before finally yanking him after four. When asked if he considered pulling Maine earlier, Randolph said: "Not necessarily. You don't want to go to your bullpen too early in a situation like that, so I pulled him when I did." Take it for what it's worth.

Do you think Orlando Hernandez will be ready to pitch in the World Series if the Mets make it? From what I understand, it wasn't a very serious injury.
-- David B.

It's a pulled calf muscle and El Duque is no spring chicken. Even though the Mets are equivocating about it now, my guess is you'll have a better chance of seeing Roberto Hernandez pitch for the Mets in the World Series.

With Ronnie Belliard playing so deep for the Cardinals at second base, why don't the Mets have Endy Chavez, Jose Reyes or Jose Valentin challenge him with drag/push bunts to negate his range by playing so deep?
-- Andy H.

It's a good concept, but if you notice, Tony La Russa has Belliard playing deeper for left-handed hitters and at regular depth for righties. He also makes sure that his pitchers cover that big gap on the right side of the infield to close it if Belliard can't get to the ball. The drag bunt is a good thought, but a tough play to execute and Belliard is quick at getting off the outfield grass for the ball. Let's see if Randolph takes you up on your suggestion as the series transpires.

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Now that Cliff Floyd is injured again. Will they keep Endy Chavez out in left field full-time and use Floyd for pitch-hitting only?
-- James F.

I suspect that will be the case. Floyd was out of the lineup on Friday and Randolph said he was available to pinch-hit. As far as starting again, he's day-to-day. Ultrasounds found no further damage to his strained Achilles tendon. Said Randolph: "It's just a matter of how comfortable he feels moving around on the leg. But right now, we're going to use him as a pinch-hitter and hopefully as the days go on, if you will, he'll feel better and better and we can get him back out there." Don't expect him on the World Series roster, though, if things don't improve considerably by then.

Why not let Aaron Heilman start Game 4 for the Mets instead of Perez?
--Kerry M.

Heilman hasn't started a game all year, and most managers are very hesitant to take a player out of an accustomed role and have him do something he's not used to, particularly in October. Plus, a reliever is trained to pitch in short spurts. Even though Heilman has made 25 starts in his four-year career, he hasn't been stretched out this season. It's a recipe for disaster and not the way you want to go in the playoffs. I've also been asked the same question about Brian Bannister, who's not on the NLCS roster. And there's a good reason for it. After he popped his right hamstring on April 28, he wasn't much use for the remainder of the season. The Mets are short on starters, no question about it. But Heilman and Bannister are not the answer.


Be a part of the NLCS Mailbag
Who's going to win this series? Who's the best player? Why'd the manager make that move? If game stories and features aren't enough for you and you want more, e-mail MLB.com's Bill Ladson at bill.ladson@mlb.com. After the game, before it, even while the action is going on. Send in your question (make sure the subject line contains NLCS Mailbag), and Ladson will answer selected queries in a regular postgame mailbag right here on MLB.com.

With all of the ups and downs for the Cardinals, it is still a successful season. Why do media outlets like ESPN not give any credit to the Cardinals for their accomplishments, dogging them for backing into the playoffs? At least they made it to the playoffs (unlike the Red Sox) and made it past the first round (unlike the Yankees).
-- Bill H.

Well, one of the reasons is the fact that the Cardinals won only 83 games and made it to the playoffs because it was a down year in the NL Central. But the other reason is that much of the electronic media seems to be very Eastern-centric. Personally, I've already given La Russa much deserved props for one of his best managing jobs, considering that the team lost key players to injury all year long and somehow survived losing streaks of eight, eight and seven games. So don't lose heart Cardinals fans. This one's for you.

I have a question about how the tickets work for postseason games in the event of a rained out game. During the regular season, the ticket is good for any game played later on. But in the postseason, is the ticket for Wednesday's game (for example) good for the very next game (since that was Game 1), or is it good for the makeup game?
-- Ron C.

It's up to MLB and the home team. The Mets this week decided to use the Game 1 ticket for the rescheduled game. But there's no hard-and-fast rule for it.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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