Steve Trachsel's 15 wins during the regular season didn't help him Saturday. The luck that gave him that total despite a 4.97 ERA abandoned him. The righty gave up five runs without getting an out in the second inning, and his Mets trail the Cardinals two games to one in this best-of-seven National League Championship Series.
Things were so bad for Trachsel he allowed a homer to Cardinals starter Jeff Suppan, who stifled the Mets by throwing eight shutout innings. To add injury to insult, Trachsel left the game after getting hit in the thigh by a batted ball. St. Louis didn't score after its five-run outburst over the first two innings, but it didn't need to.
The most critcal Mets performance belonged to Darren Oliver, who ate up six innings. Even though his teammates didn't rally, Oliver gave a bullpen that was taxed in Game 2 some much-needed rest. Oliver Perez, the Game 4 starter, is one reason why the relievers needed to be saved. No one knows what he will provide, and, with Tom Glavine pitching on short rest in Game 5, the relievers could need to be ready for a long night Monday. No matter how rested their bullpen, the Mets enter Sunday's game counting on Perez to keep them from facing elimination on Monday, and that's not an enviable position.
Photograph of Shawn Green not catching Scott Spiezo's triple in the first inning by Kevork Djansezian/AP (to be fair to Shawn Green, it was not an easy catch)