3 valuable Mets lessons from their 4-4 road trip through D.C. and Pittsburgh

A good but not great road trip keeps the Mets a game under .500 as they head back home before the All-Star break.
New York Mets v Pittsburgh Pirates
New York Mets v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin Berl/GettyImages
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It's been quite a month for the New York Mets. The team's Grimace-fueled rise through the National League standings has slowed after a 4-4 road trip, but with a 44-45 record, the Mets are right in the thick of the race with only six more games left until the All-Star break.

Analyzing the Mets' trip to Washington and Pittsburgh is a tricky exercise. On the one hand, a .500 road trip did little to gain ground on the other NL contenders. On the other hand, with two extra-inning wins and a blown-save-turned-comeback-win on Sunday, things easily could have been worse.

Overall, Mets fans have to be thrilled to be watching meaningful baseball with more than half the season gone, because a month ago things were looking bleak. The notion that this team could actually be buyers at the trade deadline once seemed impossible, but is now well within the realm of possibility. Let's look at three lessons we can take away from a .500 road trip that was much more eventful than the record suggests.

1. The Mets have enough fight to stay in the race

There's a timeline where the Mets went 1-7 on this trip and undid much of the good work from the previous few weeks. This team has more fight than that, though, and the fact that they found a way to eke out a 4-4 record bodes well for their ability to stay in the race through the dog days of summer.

The Mets showed their fight in the first two games of the Nationals series by hanging up 11 runs in extra innings alone, and nearly the entire lineup contributed. J.D. Martinez got the ball rolling with a three-run homer on Monday, then the Mets tacked on what turned out to be three more necessary runs thanks to a Francisco Alvarez triple and a Jose Iglesias two-run shot. Iglesias plated the first extra-inning run a day later with a double to bring home Tyrone Taylor, then the Mets piled on with RBIs from Brandon Nimmo and Mark Vientos before Pete Alonso blasted a game-sealing homer.

No game was more emblematic of this team's never-say-die attitude than Sunday's win over the Pirates to clinch at least a series split. Nimmo gave the Mets the lead with an RBI double in the eighth to break a scoreless tie, but just as quickly, Dedniel Nunez got in trouble and Edwin Diaz gave the lead up in the bottom half of the inning. The Mets could have rolled over and died, but they wore out Pirates closer Aroldis Chapman in the ninth, forcing the fireballing lefty to throw 40 pitches that culminated in a clutch Francisco Lindor two-RBI single with the bases loaded as the Mets were down to their last out.

Francisco Alvarez showed off his improved plate discipline by leading off with an eight-pitch walk. Harrison Bader then continued his clutch hitting with a single after also working a full count. Chapman seemed to have things back under control after striking out Vientos and Luis Torrens looking, but Iglesias (who always seems to be in the center of every rally) battled for a hard-earned walk, then Lindor dumped a ball into left field to give the Mets the lead. Diaz shook off his rough entrance by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth to seal one of the best and most stressful wins of the season.

If the Mets can continue battling like this at the plate, and fighting until the very last out, they can absolutely stay in the playoff hunt through August and September.