Excuse Mets fans for their excessive panicking after the weekend losses at Philadelphia. After all, it was around this time last year when the Mets’ season imploded and ultimately ended with a 70-92 record.

And just like last year, those ‘oh-here-we-go-again’ grumblings are mostly stemming from ineffective Mets’ pitching.

“They’ll take us wherever we go. We are where we are because of our pitching,” manager Jerry Manuel said last week.


It was true when the Mets led the NL?East over the defending champion Phillies, and it was true when they entered last night’s series opener against the Reds on a two-game skid.

The Mets’ starters busted out to a brilliant start, even owning the best ERA in the majors at one point last month. All that’s been wiped away in the last five games when the staff has a combined 8.14 ERA.

Johan Santana was the third Mets’ starter in that stretch to exit before the fifth inning. The staff ace was lit up for 10 earned runs in 32/3 innings Sunday night against the Phillies.

Santana, though, wasn’t the only hurler starting the week off on a sour note. Mike Pelfrey, who matched a franchise-low 0.69 ERA in the first month of the season, underwent an MRI?yesterday for tightness in his shoulders. The big right-hander will throw a scheduled bullpen session today, and if all goes well should be OK?for his next start against the Giants.

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