Flash back to June 18, 2013. Two days removed from a miracle comeback against the Cubs, the Mets arrived at their most anticipated day in two years. In one glorious Tuesday doubleheader in Atlanta, New York fans would witness one pitching gem from their budding ace and another from an ace-to-be in his major-league debut.
Harvey-Wheeler Day gave the Mets two enormous wins in a traditional house of Amazin’ horrors. More importantly, the aces’ double accelerated the wheels that Kirk Nieuwenhuis had dislodged with his Father’s Day home run. With the acquisition of Eric Young, Jr. that same day, New York set forth on its greatest ride of the 2013 season.
On June 15, the Mets were 24-39. After an August 20 win against the Braves, the team was 58-66. During this Nieu Year, a resurgent New York went 34-27. Ultimately, the ride was stalled by a string of injuries, punctuated when Matt Harvey’s UCL injury let the air out completely. But for 61 glorious games in 2013, the Mets played baseball to the tune of a .557 winning percentage. Over a 162-game season, that’s 90 wins.
Flash forward to June 18 this year. On Wednesday, the Mets were 31-40 and in danger of being swept in St. Louis. This time, it wasn’t a young gun but an old standby who may have put the wheels in motion. With his bat, of all things.
With one epic swing in the top of the 6th inning, Bartolo Colon broke his nine-year 0-for, lacing a double down the left field line and prompting the quote of the season from Kevin Burkhardt. Eric Young followed up with a double of his own to score Colon and came home on David Wright’s single two batters later. The Mets added to their 2-1 lead with another double from EY in the 7th and withstood a Cardinal comeback to win 3-2.
Now, after taking three of four from another place that’s been hard to win at (Miami), the Mets sit at 35-41, winners of four of their last five. Unlike last year, when New York was already out of the division race at the beginning of the Nieu Year, the Mets find themselves only five games out of first place in the NL East.
Zack Wheeler just had his best start as a major leaguer. David Wright has finally broken his cold spell. Travis d’Arnaud is coming back this week, and Juan Lagares soon after. Chris Young may be on his way out. Keith Hernandez suggested Sunday afternoon that the team is finally accepting its fate as a line drive team. And starting pitching, the most important component to a winning team, is still magnificent.
The pieces are in place. The division is in reach. With hit towels waving them on, the 2014 New York Mets look to turn their season around. If they succeed, we’ll look back on June 18 as the date, once again, when the ride began.