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Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Chance of a no-no tonight? Maybe for STL

By Mark Simon

Matt Garza's no-hitter for the Rays on Monday night gives us only two teams left in the majors that haven't thrown a no-hitter.

One of those is the Padres, who began play in 1969.

The other is, of course, the Mets, established 1962, having played 7,743 games without one.

Jonathon Niese is pitching tonight and it feels like he used up his no-hitter potential with his one-hitter against the Padres earlier this season.

But Adam Wainwright, the one person who can challenge Johan Santana for NL Pitcher of the Month honors for July, goes for the Cardinals tonight, so the odds may be tipping against the Mets.

Wainwright is going for a major league record tonight -- best ERA in the month of July. Since earned runs were first tracked in 1913, the Elias Sports Bureau charts Wainwright's 0.31 July ERA as second-best to only Spud Chandler's 0.24 for the 1941 Yankees.

Combine that with a historically bad Mets offense and you have a recipe for no-hitter potential.

No offense (pun intended), but the Mets hitting has been horrendous this month, and here's the simplest number that backs it up.

The Mets are hitting .224 this month, down a whopping 50 points from what they hit in June.

How bad is a .224 batting average for a team? That's what we're here to tell you. We have the numbers for every month in Mets history, thanks to Stats LLC.

The good news is that the Mets have had 26 full calendar months in their 49-year history in which they've hit worse.

The bad news is that very few of those have come recently.

The last time the Mets hit worse in a calendar month was when they were playing out the string in September, 2003 (.217), giving lifelong minor leaguers like Tom Glavine's brother, Mike, (1-for-7) a chance at a big league turn through a bad month during a season turned disastrous early.

But for the last time prior to that you have to flip all the way back to April, 1991, but Bud Harrelson's Mets still managed a 12-8 mark despite hitting .223 because the pitching staff included Dwight Gooden, Frank Viola, and David Cone.

That team showed its true colors later in the season, another one that didn't turn out so good, though you can hit sub-.224 and be a winner. The 1985 Mets hit .219 in May and still won 98 games. The 1973 Mets hit .207 in April and won a pennant.

The worst batting average for a Mets team over a full calendar month is .188, which is what the injury-depleted 1972 squad hit that July. That team hit .225 for the season, the third-worst mark in team history (the 1963 squad hit .219).
Tom Seaver couldn't save the 1972 Mets and he couldn't save the 1983 ones either -- they're the last ones to hit as low as .224 in July, batting .217 in July, 1983.

How low can these current Mets go? The current record is still within reach, technically speaking. That 1972 team hit .1875 in July.

To break that, the current squad would have to go 0-for-their-next 142. That would require being no-hit in each of the five remaining July games AND slipping in a few more at-bats then normal (they'd need the help of errors or extra innings).

Seems unlikely, but remember these are the Mets we're talking about.