Dodgers
Mets
5 - 6 Final
  for this game

Maine may replace Hernandez as Mets' starter

Oct 4, 2006 - 2:13 PM LA Dodgers at NY Mets 4:09 pm EDT National League Division Series Game One

FLUSHING, New York (Ticker) -- The New York Mets may have to open the postseason by forgetting about "El Duque" and remembering the "Maine".

John Maine could become a last-minute replacement for Orlando Hernandez on Wednesday when the New York Mets begin the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

No stranger to postseason action, Hernandez (11-11, 4.66 ERA) is 9-3 with a 2.55 career ERA with the New York Yankees (1998-2004) and the Chicago White Sox (2005) en route to winning four World Series titles.

However, Hernandez injured his right calf muscle while running sprints in the outfield Tuesday at Shea Stadium and underwent an MRI.

With Pedro Martinez already unavailable because of upcoming rotator cuff surgery, the Mets may have to turn to Maine (6-5, 3.60) in the opener. The 25-year-old righthander went 3-0 in August before going 2-2 in September, including a loss to the Dodgers on September 8.

"We've had our injuries all year," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "Even now, guys are banged up here and there. That's always in your mind. But I can't say that I've experienced anything like this before, even as a coach or a player. But it is what it is."

In his second season with the Mets, Randolph led his team to a 14-win improvement over 2005 and its first Eastern Division title since 1988. New York led the division for much of the campaign and finished 12 games in front of the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Dodgers posted 16 more victories than a year ago, including a seven-game winning streak to end the regular season. Despite ending up with the same record as San Diego, Los Angeles had to settle for the wild card slot because the Padres had the tiebreaker.

Derek Lowe (16-8, 3.63) was one of the league's most consistent pitchers in the second half of the season, going 9-1 after July 19. He beat the Mets on June 6, yielding two runs and five hits in six frames.

"Any time you can continue out there and get success, it just builds confidence," Lowe said. "I think that's what this time of the year is all about, is confidence. I believe that to have success in the playoffs, you can't be afraid to fail. I think that's been my motto my whole career."

The winning pitcher in all three series-clinching contests for the 2004 Boston Red Sox, Lowe recorded his 100th career victory in his previous outing last Wednesday against the Colorado Rockies.

New York won four of the seven regular-season encounters with Los Angeles. Game Two will be played here Thursday.






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