Let me preface this blog by saying that I know there is something seriously wrong with me. That being said, I’ve been watching Mets games since the All-Star break as if we were in the heat of a pennant race. Monday’s loss to the division-leading Braves still stings a little. Gee pitched a gem only to have Parnell blow a 1-run lead in the 9th. Buck’s pass ball certainly didn’t help but after all of that Justin Turner appeared to deliver a game-tying (possibly game-winning) single in the bottom of the 9th inning only to be robbed of a hit on a spectacular diving play by Jason Heyward. It still stings a little just talking about – and remember we’re talking about a July divisional match-up for a team that is 10 games back. I know, I know… there’s something wrong with me.
It was the first of a 4-game set against Atlanta so a win would have moved New York to 9 games out, with 3 more to come in the series. Of course with the loss, the Mets fell to 11 back and to any normal fan that probably doesn’t seem any different than 9 games back. But for some reason I couldn’t stop thinking about how we could have been 9 back and maybe 6 back after a 4-game sweep. Wishful thinking of course but I can’t stop.
The Mets ended up splitting the 4-game series with the Braves and currently sit 10 games back of Atlanta (and 4th in the NL East). Keeping with this idea of delusional fanaticism, just hear me out as I convince myself (and possibly you) that the Mets can still win the NL East. This weekend will go a long way in determining whether I’m completely out of my mind or just mildly delusional. At any point, if I begin to sound completely out of touch with reality, please feel free to refer back to the first sentence of this post. Here we go…
A doubleheader with the Nats today offers the opportunity to pick up 1.5 games on Atlanta and 2 games on Washington, who sit 2 games ahead of us. Philly is also ahead of us in the standings but all of us (Phils, Nats and Mets) have the same number of losses. Given how poorly the Nats and Phillies have been playing of late, I think we can be in 2nd place by the end of the weekend. The Nationals have won just once since the All-Star break and they needed a Bryce Harper walk-off HR after blowing a 4-run 9th-inning lead to earn that win. The Phillies have also only won since the break and they’ve lost 5 straight. Jumping them in the standings should not be much of a problem if these trends continue.
Atlanta opens up a weekend series with St. Louis tonight. The Cardinals have the best record in the league at 62-37 and they are hitting an other worldly .340 with runners in scoring position this season. The Braves will be tasked with defeating Wainwright (13-5, 2.44 ERA) tonight, Joe Kelly (1-3, 3.88 ERA) tomorrow and Shelby Miller (10-6, 2.77 ERA) on Sunday. The Cards also have three of the five highest averages in the NL in their lineup (Molina leads the NL with a .336 AVG followed closely by Allen Craig and his .334 AVG and Matt Carpenter sits in 5th with a .325 AVG). In summation, the Cardinals are really good and should take at least 2 of 3 from the Braves this weekend. A sweep is not out of the question.
Meanwhile, if the Mets can take 3 out of 4 against a reeling Nationals team, that would leave us 8.5 games back with 2 full months left to play. A tall order but with 5 head-to-head match-ups with Atlanta remaining on the schedule, it’s not an impossibility. If the Mets sweep the Nationals this weekend and the Braves get swept by the Cardinals, we would be 6.5 games back. That’s very much in the hunt with 2 months to play. The wild card, believe it or not, is more difficult than the division this year because the NL Central has three teams that all have a better record than the Braves right now.
We’ve got Harvey going every 5th day and our bullpen has been pitching better and better each day. The pen has allowed just 1 ER in their last 19 IP. After this weekend, if the Mets are still more than 10 games out, I’ll pack it in. But I still have hope and want so much for this team to give me meaningful games to watch in August.
This entire season the Mets have failed to put together a good couple weeks of baseball and that’s made it hard for the fan base to believe anything would come of this year. We have been playing our best baseball of late though (21-14 record in our last 35 games) so now is the time to put together a 13-5 stretch and give yourself a chance to make something of what appeared to be a lost season. I’m not asking for a Rays-like 22-3 run (although that would be nice) but just keep winning series and come September, we might more in the race than anyone ever thought.
I admit that last month, I thought we were down and out and it was all about 2014 but after some solid play, I’m back and focused on the present. Hopefully the players and Terry realize that they’re just one more good week of baseball away from being right back in the division race. Even if we don’t put this run together, at least we’re not A-Rod and the Yanks. There haven’t been too many times in my life that you can say that, but it definitely applies on July 26, 2013.