After a series victory in Seattle, the Mets took a shellacking last night in Milwaukee. In this ugly affair, nothing went right. Starting pitching, relief pitching, hitting, it all apparently was grounded somewhere around Boise.
Despite Met fans’ tendencies to turn to despair after losses like this, all is not lost. The defeat drops New York’s record on this brutal Western swing to 3-4. Not ideal, but not catastrophic either.
For as many flat performances since the All-Star Break, there have been just as many bright spots. Travis d’Arnaud is still hitting, and so is Lucas Duda. Jenrry Mejia has closed out all three wins. Jacob deGrom and Bartolo Colon were both brilliant against the Mariners, and Zack Wheeler’s great start was overshadowed by Odrisamer Despaigne (and you thought Nieuwenhuis was hard to spell).
Yes, the Mets lost a series to lowly San Diego. But they stole two of three from a revitalized Seattle in their ballpark. Now they have a chance to come back on first-place Milwaukee and steal two or three from Miller Park.
This weekend is an important one for the Mets. Three wins give them a 6-4 record during the Western swing, which may be enough to convince Sandy Alderson to bite on a big bat. Three losses make it 3-7, which gives him less reason. But what of the in between records? What of a 5-5 or 4-6 road trip?
A 4-6 record over a three-series road trip, especially against two contenders, is nothing to scoff at. But it likely won’t convince anyone in the front office to sell off some of the farm to go all-in in 2014. A 5-5 record, on the other hand, means the Mets were able to hold their own while putting on the miles. It may indicate that this 2014 New York squad really does have the chops to make a run, but it needs some help.
Another key indicator in a 5-5 result is that, while the Mets held their own, one more bat could have made it a winning road trip. Close losses in the San Diego finale and Seattle opener suggest that with one more bat, New York wins both games. That turns a potential 5-5 swing into a 7-3 sensation.
Most of the pieces are already in place. With just one more quality hitter, the Mets will be over the hump. The rumors are swirling around Colorado, and Arizona should be willing to listen given the state of their franchise. The pieces received from either of those potential blockbusters would go a long way to punching a playoff ticket for the first time in eight years.
All of hit hinges on these next three games in Milwaukee. The Mets just need to take two of three from the Brewers in their home park to wrap up the Western swing with a 5-5 record. Then it’s three weeks without leaving the East Coast. Plenty of time to pull closer, so long as Sandy Alderson makes the Mets buyers at the trade deadline. He’ll have reason to after a series win in Seattle and at least a split in Milwaukee.