"Every time he has taken the ball since he's been here, he's proven a lot to me, really," Randolph said. "He's getting better and better at harnessing a lot of his energy. I think that's a big part of it, not just physically, but mentally being able to get through tough spots and trusting himself and just being tough."He's challenged himself, and I've challenged him personally and he's been there for me. So he's got to the point now where I feel very confident in giving him the ball." With Hernandez still on the shelf and not on the postseason roster at least until the World Series, Maine will get the ball again on Friday. It'll be his second start this year against the Cardinals, who Maine-handled him on Aug. 22 at Shea in a game the Mets won, 8-7. Maine was gone after five innings, having allowed five hits and seven runs -- all of them on two Albert Pujols home runs. Asked if he had any plan this time around for going after the NL Central champions, Maine said: "I don't think my game plan changes that much from team to team. I think maybe patterns of what I throw and what situation I throw pitches in might change a little bit. I still have to be aggressive, and I've still got to go out there and throw strikes. There are certain places in the lineup where you have to realize the score of the inning. Things like that might change your approach a little bit. "Pujols, of course, is one of them, and you've just got to make quality pitches on him. Everyone knows he's a great hitter. You've just got to be careful."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.