It is clear by now that Citi Field brings out the best in the New York Metropolitans, as evidence by their latest stellar homestand. Jon Niese’s scintillating one-hit shutout of the NL West leading Padres was the cherry on top of a 5-1 run by the Mets during their latest stay at the cavern in Flushing. The win thrust the Mets to 32-28, a mere 2 1/2 games behind the division leading Braves and right in the thick of the Wild Card picture in the National League.
But, then there is this sobering fact….It is also abundantly clear the team’s results on the road produce a stark contrast from what has been occurring at Citi Field. Let’s first examine the straight numbers:
- Home Record — 24-10 (Not the best winning percentage but the most wins in MLB)
- Road Record — 8-18 (Only the dreadful Mariners and Orioles have less road wins)
There really is no rhyme or reason for the Mets extreme success at home. Jerry Manuel thinks the players are now aware of the challenges Citi Field presents and batters and pitchers alike have adjusted their mental approaches when playing there. I am not sure I am buying it, but it is as good an explanation as any.
As for the extreme distress away from Citi Field, I am afraid I got nothing for you there either. It’s not as if the Mets are getting blown away on the road. There have been very few stinkers. The 18-6 drubbing at the hands of the Padres at the end of last month and a 10-0 whiteawashing by Roy Halladay and the Phillies at the beginning of May are a few that come to mind. Many of the rest of the 18 road losses have been close and hard-fought. The starting pitching has certainly been there but they can’t seem to get that timely hit away from their now friendly confines in Queens.
All this being said, I am declaring this upcoming 9-game road trip the defining moment of the Mets season. Yeah, I know I said the same thing before the squad embarked on their last road venture to Milwaukee and San Diego, but this stretch includes 6 games in Baltimore and Cleveland, quite possibly the two worst teams in all the sport. With the team seemingly clicking on all cylinders right now, anything less than 4-2 against those dreadful baseball teams will be a major disappointment. The three games that follow against the Evil Empire at Yankee Stadium are a crapshoot. Nobody would be surprised if they get swept away in Bronx.
All I am asking for is a respectable 5-4 record on this 9-game swing. Dare I even dream of coming back to Queens winning 6 of 9 and a solid 7 games over .500? With the emergence of a seemingly healthy Niese and the continued dominance of Mike Pelfrey, I do believe (Ya Gotta Believe, Right?) this Mets team is in this thing for the long haul. They have a likable bunch of players who play hard for their embattled manager and have certainly endeared themselves to the fans at their home ballpark. Lets see what the next challenge on the road has in store…..