NEW YORK (AP) -- Tom Glavine thinks a machine is ruining
baseball. Especially for him.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner lost to his old team for the
third time this season as the Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets
6-3 Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep and make Russ Ortiz
the National League's first 12-game winner.
Glavine blamed the loss partly on the machine used to evaluate
umpires, saying it's caused them to shrink his strike zone to an
impossibly narrow width.
"I know my name has been brought up in the QuesTec argument,"
he said. "I'm the poster child."
At Shea Stadium, where the QuesTec system is used, Glavine is
2-7. On the road, he's 4-2.
He says umpires have told Mets catchers that they will not call
pitches on the corners at Shea because they don't want the machine
to give them poor grades.
"Why not eliminate that altogether and have an electronic
strike zone?" Glavine said. "That's almost what it's coming to."
Glavine said he's heard throughout his career complaints that
his strike zone "was 24 inches wide and everyone else's was 10."
Echoing to the complaints of Arizona's Curt Schilling, he says it's
no longer possible to know in advance what's a ball and what's a
strike. And because of that, Glavine says only power pitchers can
be successful. Finesse guys who work the corners are out of luck.
"You can ask the hitters. They don't know what the strike zone
is. Nobody knows," he said. "It's not just me they're doing this
to. They've done it to a lot of good pitchers."
Glavine estimated the computer cost him 8-10 pitches Wednesday
that would have been called strikes in the past, about 10 percent
of his total. The change caused him to fall behind in the count.
"If it's 2-0 vs. 1-1, that's a big deal," he said.
He thought he pitched well, and so did the Braves, but Glavine
(6-9) allowed three of his first four batters to score as hits fell
in as if it were intrasquad batting practice.
He walked leadoff man Rafael Furcal, gave up a one-out single to
Gary Sheffield, then allowed Chipper Jones' bloop RBI single down
the right-field line, Andruw Jones' soft run-scoring single to
center and Javy Lopez's sacrifice fly.
Julio Franco reached out for a low, outside pitch in the sixth
for a two-run homer that put Atlanta ahead 5-1, and Glavine made an
early exit two batters later, with some fans booing as he walked to
the Mets' dugout, head bowed.
"Glavine is the same pitcher," said Lopez, his former catcher.
"I don't see anything different. He was throwing the same way as
when he was with us."
Many Braves are quite familiar with Glavine, who spent 16
seasons with Atlanta before signing with the Mets in December. New
York expected the two-time Cy Young Award winner to lead the Mets
back into the playoffs.
Instead, the eight-time All-Star heads into the All-Star break
with a losing record for just the third time in his major league
career. Still, even if he had known the machine would be at Shea
Stadium, he wouldn't have changed his mind about coming to New
Glavine allowed five runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings and
tied a season high with five walks. He dropped to 0-3 against
Atlanta this season and has allowed 16 runs in 15 2-3 innings
against the Braves -- a 9.19 ERA.
"Today he was as good as I've seen him," Chipper Jones said.
"Good sink on his fastball, good sink on all his stuff."
Atlanta, which leads the NL East at 58-31, matched a season high
with its sixth straight win, opening the largest lead in the major
leagues. The last-place Mets, who started three rookies, dropped to
39-50, including 3-6 against the Braves.
"I feel bad for him personally," said Greg Maddux, Glavine's
former teammate. "But as far as the team goes? We're doing what
we're trying to do."
Ortiz (12-4) won his fifth straight start and tied Toronto's Roy
Halladay for the major league lead in victories. He allowed seven
hits, giving up runs on sacrifice flies by Timo Perez in the second
and Jose Reyes in the eighth.
Following a 44-minute rain delay with one out and two on in the
eighth, Ray King relieved and allowed an RBI single to Jeromy
Burnitz. Kevin Gryboski then came in and got Jason Phillips to
ground into a double play.
Ortiz, picked for the NL All-Star team, is ready to start next
Tuesday in Chicago if he's chosen.
"I'll be well rested," he said. "It all depends on the other
guys and what fits best."
After Sheffield hit an RBI double in the ninth off Jaime
Cerda, John Smoltz got three outs for his major league-leading 34th
save in 36 chances. ... Mets LHP Mike Stanton, on the disabled list
since May 3 because of an inflamed left knee, plans to make his
second minor league rehabilitation appearance on Thursday, for
Brooklyn at New Jersey in the New York-Penn League. "I think I'm
ready," he said when asked when he will return. "We just have to
see if they think I'm ready."