LOS ANGELES—We are now at a juncture in the season where if things don’t heal quickly, there will be more stories about Jets and Giants training camp than the Mets.

The Mets have endured their collapses, their failures, their mid-season disappointments. But maybe never so quickly has a Mets team gone from contender to pretender mid-season—from the talk of baseball in June to absolute afterthoughts in July.

There are still 66 games left in the 2010 season. That may be a number to count on, but the way the Mets are going right now, how many wins will come of those remaining games?

The Mets offense hasn’t hit the skids or begun to slump, it has completely dissipated. The Mets have now gone 13 straight games without scoring more than four runs, and have not even scored that many in its current four-game losing streak.

Normally, the thought in baseball is to hand the ball to your ace when in a losing streak of four or more. It means that you haven’t won with any other starter in the rotation.

That’s all fine tonight for the Mets. They will have their ace, Johan Santana, on the mound, but does it mean anything at this point? Out of the eight games since the All-Star break, the Mets have lost six when getting a good pitching performance.

No matter how well Santana does, the Mets need to try and score some runs. Even if Santana doesn’t allow a run, the Mets are capable of not scoring, which would cancel out Santana’s effort.

The good thing is, they will have a guy on the mound that can keep them in the game, and someone who has been dominant of late.

After the calendar flipped to July from an awful June for Santana, he has been money. In July, Santana is 2-0 with a 0.58 ERA. That’s vintage Santana, and being that he’s one of the best second-half pitchers of all time, there’s no reason to believe he’s going to revert back to his June ways.

In his last start on Sunday in San Francisco, Santana didn’t get a win, but certainly deserved one. He pitched eight stellar innings, and left the game with a 3-1 lead, handing the ball over to Francisco Rodriguez.

Rodriguez gave up two runs to blow the save, and nearly blew the game. He was helped out by a generous call from home-plate umpire Phil Cuzzi, and therefore the Mets went on to win the game in the 10th inning.

So far on this 11-game road trip, that’s the only win the Mets have gotten, as they lost the three before and four after.

Trying to continue the National League pitchers’ run against the Mets will be Vincente Padilla. When healthy, Padilla has been phenomenal this season, so the Mets may have another excuse already lined up should they fail again. After all, every pitcher, according to the Mets, recently has had his “good stuff” against them.

After getting handed the ball on Opening Day against the Pirates and getting crushed, Padilla has settled in nicely. He did spend the entire month of May on the disabled list.

He pitched a gem against the Cardinals in his last start on Sunday in St. Louis. In the start, he went six innings, allowing only one hit, but he did walk five. The Dodgers would go on to lose the game, 5-4.

Last night, Dodgers manager Joe Torre elected to use his setup man Hong-Chih Kuo in the ninth inning to save the game, citing stomach problems as the reason for Broxton’s absence.

Thing is, the Dodgers don’t allow Kuo to pitch in consecutive games, so he won’t be available tonight. On those days, when Kuo doesn’t pitch, the Dodgers have had a hard time winning games.

That doesn’t matter right now for the Mets. They aren’t doing anything against anyone. Tonight’s Mets lineup is to be determined.

Jason Bay may get a second straight game off, and any of three catchers can play, although it’s likely to be Henry Blanco for Johan Santana.

The Mets need wins, that goes without saying, and they’ll try again tonight.

News and notes:
RHP Fernando Nieve has been designated for assignment
RHP Manny Acosta has been recalled from Triple-A Buffalo

Johan Santana vs. Los Angeles (April 27)
Win, 6 IP, 0 ER, 4 hits, 3 BB, 6 SO

Vincente Padilla vs. New York (career)
*10-3, 3.54 ERA, 94 IP, 84 hits, 27 BB, 63 SO

*Most wins against any team in career

2010 season series (New York vs. Los Angeles)
April 27 (1): New York 4, Los Angeles 0
April 27 (2): New York 10, Los Angeles 5
April 28: New York 7, Los Angeles 3

July 22: Los Angeles 2, New York 0
Mets lead series 3-1

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