David Wright was hitting for three and when he broke his finger it has devastating effects on the Mets lineup. That’s not to say they can’t win without him, but at the time of the injury he was practically carrying the team and no one else has managed to pick them back up yet.
Regardless of if Wright is back Friday, next Friday, or after a DL stint is irrelevant. The Mets need to make adjustments and this 50 hour window between games is the perfect opportunity to do it. Assess the best way to set up the lineup, have guys refocus on the game plan, do their infield drills, and put extra work in scouting the Phillies pitchers. Those two losses should keep the Mets from getting complacent under a “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. It’s broke, so fix it.
Obviously Ike Davis and Lucas Duda need to hit more. Jason Bay does too, as he represents basically all of the right-handed power in the lineup if Scott Hairston isn’t starting, but if Bay can simply manage to not double up on career-worst years I’ll be happy. I’ve never really been a big believer in the idea that lefties can’t hit lefties, attributing it more to a small sample size coupled with the inability for players to get enough reps against them. The Mets lineup is extremely left-handed, so they really need to start hitting to avoid being exploited by LOOGYs. Maybe the massive amount of lefties the Mets will see, both in Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, and in the relievers teams bring in face the Mets lefty sluggers, will give Duda and Davis, as well as Daniel Murphy, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Josh Thole, the reps against them that they need to get comfortable with release points and different breaks. Certainly if they could start demonstrating that they can hit lefties, it will keep Terry Collins from putting lesser players from the bench in key spots.
4-2 is still a good start. The Mets now need to do the work required to win on this road trip, and continue the good start. Cliff Lee will be tough, but the Mets can hit Vance Worley and they own Cole Hamels. Then they get three against the Braves again, who they already swept. David Wright back would have a huge impact on run-scoring, but they have to find ways to win these games with or without him.
Headed out to the game tonight alone. Which means I’ll be roaming around the park aimlessly watching the game from all over the place.
I’m thinking of hanging around the outfield tonight. Checking out the pitchers warming up, watching the game from the Shea Bridge, and maybe climb up to the Pepsi Porch for an inning or two.
The Mets really need to win tonight. They’ve had one bad week every month that keeps them from getting above .500. In May they got to .500 and then lost six of seven. They got back to .500 again last week in Atlanta, lost a crushing game and have now lost four of their last five. If they can minimize that damage and start the climb again now, they’ll hopefully be able to climb above .500 and keep going. Maybe Bay is going to start being Jason Bay again after a big game last night, and maybe Wright and Davis get good news this week and make their way back to the team. Otherwise this Mets season feels a lot like Sisyphus.
Terry Collins called last night’s win “No doubt the biggest win they’ve had this year.” It’d be hard to disagree, and they extend their winning streak to six games after they got shut down early by Gorzelanny. He talked about turning the anger the team has about the last couple of years on the opponent and using it to their advantage. One things for sure; this team is an extremely likable team that plays with energy and is fun to watch.
Winning games when you struggle to hit early and have to overcome bad calls and comeback in the 8th and the 9th can be huge morale boosters. I know all teams have huge comeback wins and look great and energetic doing it. All teams look better when they’re winning. For _this_ team, the comeback and practicing winning, as uncrowned captain David Wright would put it, may be a bigger deal. We watched the Met struggle early this season, and press and try too hard and make mistakes. Terry Collins tried to keep them upbeat, but nothing does that better than winning. Games like this reinforce the attitude on the team that they are winners, and that no obstacle is too large to overcome. It’ a complete 180 from where they were earlier in the season. The baseball season is a long one, and there is a huge mental preparation aspect to it. When teams believe they can pull out a win, when they don’t doubt themselves, it can be a huge weapon to get through a season. The other side: When a pitcher is out there, maybe a closer that hasn’t handled the role well, (Why, hello there Ryan Madson) knowing that the other team is sure they’re going to beat you, it can eat at you. The Phillies of recent years may be an example of this. You heard from everyone, including opposing players, that the Phillies are never out of a game. It creates a mental edge. It may not be a large one, or one that’s measurable, but it does exist.
I don’t know if a “winning attitude” or some sort of mental edge is enough. I don’t know if the Mets are talented enough, or will stay healthy enough, to win a division. I believe they can, but me believing it, or even the players believing it, doesn’t mean it will happen. For now, it doesn’t matter. They’re a fun bunch that believe they can win any game, and I’m going to have fun watching until the end believing they can pull it out. I’m not worrying about how many wins they have to have if they’re going to compete, or what their record needs to be against this opponent or that. Play the game, try to win the game, and I’ll sit on my couch and root for you. It’ll be a nice change from having to root against teams the last couple of years.
You can make yourself crazy over-analyzing baseball. A week ago the Mets rotation wasn’t pitching deep into games, the bullpen couldn’t get anyone out, and people were all set to write the Mets off. Now they’ve run off a stretch of five wins in a row, the pitchers have pitched well from rotation to bullpen, and they’re scoring runs in all sorts of ways from home runs to errors to simple clutch hits.
The last time a major New York sports team other than the Mets won a home game was last Sunday the 17th when the Rangers and Yankees did it. Since then the Rangers and Knicks both got bounced from the playoffs and the Yankees are 3-3 including dropping the last two home games against the White Sox with each of their two closers, Mariano Rivera and Rafael Soriano, blowing saves.
An aside on the Yankees: For a team as old as they are, it has to be a little worrisome that they’ve postponed so many games already doesn’t it? They’ve played far fewer than anyone else, and in fact only played four games last week. Those three games will have to be made up, and it’ll eat into days off and rest time for some of these veteran players.
You could make excuses about the quality of the Mets opponents, but I could make excuses that they were a bloop or a lucky bounce away from winning some of those games they lost too. Regardless of who is in the other dugout, the Mets are playing good baseball right now. When this team is playing well, they’re capable of beating anyone. The question has always been if they’re going to stay healthy enough to have the chance to play well, and can they sustain the success longer than the slumps they might go through when guys are struggling?
Also worth noting is that if the only reason the Mets are winning is because they’re playing bad teams, why can’t the Phillies beat the Diamondbacks?
It’s been a rough stretch for the Mets, but they’ll return home winners, having ended their losing streak Sunday in Atlanta. For now it’s just one game, but they do face two of the weaker teams in the league during this six game homestand.
They’ve hopefully put the three games in 24 hours meme to rest, eliminating the need to juggle the roster, shuffle relievers and starters, and try to figure out how to keep everyone rested. T hey can also get back into a normal routine of everyday baseball and hopefully eliminate some of these silly mistakes they’ve been making.
It’s the perfect time to start getting on a hot streak; the weather starts warming up, the starting pitchers arms have been strengthened a little, and Jason Bay may even be back as soon as Tuesday.
The bullpen has started to settle down as well, and has started to build up a sample size that Terry Collins can use when decided how and when to use different relievers to maximize success.
The Mets have played less than 10% of their games so far, and there is plenty of baseball to be played. I could give you a whole list of teams that have had poor Aprils that go on to have successful season as well as mention all sorts of statistics Mets player are posting that will get better. Right now we’re only look at one small sample of mostly under-performing data. Many of those numbers will level out over the months to come, and many players will experience over-performing stretches that lead to more wins than losses. It’s simply unfair to judge the team conclusively on this small sample of games. They need to win games, but right now simply that they’re playing them is joy enough.
They return to Citi Field after an off-day on a one game winning streak with the path laid out in front of them to start making winning the trend, and losing the aberration.