Al Leiter; Photo: Gary I. Rothstein/NY Times

At the start of the season, Mets owner Fred Wilpon was hoping to play "meaningful games" and after 87 games, Wilpon can say the Mets have played several meaningful games and it looks like they will play more to come. The Mets are currently in 4th place in the NL East, but trail the first place Phillies by only two games. With Atlanta, the former juggernaut of the division, and Florida, the reigning World Series Champs in the mix as well, it looks to be an exciting second half of the season.

With a chance to go into the break on a positive note, the Mets fell to the Marlins yesterday, 5-2 (box score). In the 93° Florida heat, Al Leiter only pitched three innings but threw 88 pitches in the outing. The number was a result of several long battles with hitters. The Times reports that Leiter went through "two 12-pitch at-bats, two nine-pitch at-bats and one eight-pitch at-bat" all in a six batter stretch.

The Times also questions the lineup the Mets used in the final game before the 3-day period of rest, "From the moment Mets Manager Art Howe filled out the top slot in his lineup card Sunday, it seemed the All-Star Game break had begun. A team that has forged an identity by taking a series of risks - on the basepaths, in the trade market and with the lineup - chose an inopportune time to pick up its chips and walk meekly away."

The Mets resume playing on Thursday with 11 games in a row at home against the other four teams in the NL East. Those games will be full of meaning and could shape the remainder of the season for the hopeful Metropolitans.