Mets fans, you can stop holding your breath, or at least take another one. It’s mid-June, and your team is still afloat. Although offensively, they do things unconventionally, the Mets proved their resiliency again and put their own sting into the Rays. And what the Mets said over the last three games was, in so many words, they aren’t going away any time soon. Now whether they can start to actually gain ground within the division, is another matter.
While it’s true the Mets’ world was looking kind of flat when they sailed into the Bronx and nearly fell off the edge of contention, they have since rebounded handsomely with three consecutive, and resounding victories over a perennially contending Tampa Bay Rays team. With a good Gulf Coast wind in their sails now, the Mets are heading back to Flushing Bay to host Joey Votto, and the Cincinnati Reds.
After sweeping the Tampa Bay Rays, the Mets are currently 8-8 during the sink-or-swim portion of their itinerary. Remember now, this was the part of the schedule Mets nay-sayers said the team would be lucky to finish with a .500 record. Well, I guess for Kirk Nieuwenhuis and the Mets, lucky it is then. They are six games above the even mark again, and patched up their road record considerably, getting it back to 16-17 after initially leaving Flushing with a .500 road record.
In a previous post, I set the final landing spot for this particular stretch in the schedule at the conclusion of the Orioles series. I said June 20th because that brings the Mets to their day off, which also falls on the eve of the Roosevelt Avenue portion of the Subway Series. But before we even get to that point, there is something we should still take away from this last series against the Rays.
Whooping-up on Tampa in the manner they did gives the Mets’ efforts some legitimacy. In losing three series to the Phillies, Nationals, and Yankees, in hind sight, the Cardinals series was threatening to look like a fluke. But now coupled with sweeping the Rays, their efforts bring along some gravitas to the ball park. Say what you will, the Rays pitching corps were still boasting the third best ERA in the A.L., and ranked eighth in all of Baseball. Yet, the Mets easily disassembled them like wet toilet paper, to the tune of forty hits, and twenty-nine runs in three games.
As far as this portion of the schedule, it is still in progress. In the mean time, the Amazins are still bobbing up and down, yet anchored, to third place in the N.L. East like a buoy. Where do we go from here?
The last “seize the moment” series I declared came against Philadelphia. On the heels of wiping out the Padres, I believed for as long as the Phillies were down, it was incumbent upon the Mets to keep them down. They failed at that task by losing two of three. Now here comes another opportunity; for seasons offer many. This upcoming series against the Reds is a Seize The Moment set; or at least winning Game One is important to me. Against a team like the Reds, these are statement games; tone setters; and what I like to call – mood managers. The now concluded series against the Rays was not a Seize situation. That was a direct response to getting swept, and had more to do with Terry’s Kids having a back bone. That series was about fortiude after getting pummelled by the Yanks. Now, on the heels of sweeping the Rays, the Mets have an opportunity against the Reds, to seize a moment by taking the opening game versus the Central Division leaders.
Unless you’re playing your own division, it’s not so much the ability to sweep a team like the Rays that advances a team through their respective division standings. However, the ability to turn three wins into four, does. The Mets will try and improve upon their three game win streak starting with Dillon Gee, then Jon Niese, and Chris Young.
This is the same way they started off against Philadelphia; minus Young. So I’ll reiterate what I said prior to the Phillies series. For each of their fifth share of responsibility, it is incumbent upon Dillon Gee and Jon Niese to start seizing a game or two, or in this case, a series, on their own without having R.A. Dickey and Johan Santana available for a given set. Perhaps that applies more for Niese than for Gee, who has the lesser experience.
But yes, I would like to see Gee and Niese win this series on their own. I would like to see them act in tandem this series, and, in a word, lead, the Mets over the Reds. It’s just a short term goal. But it’s all set up for them. If the Mets want late season games against the Nationals and Marlins to matter, the Mets need to take care of these non division games now.
It’s almost game time. So, Let’s Go Mets!