The Mets got what they needed from Pete Alonso yesterday and Michael Conforto the day before – but most of all – they regained team confidence.
The Mets 2020 season is punctuated by false starts and empty hearts.
What began as a teamwide effort to recapture the magic of last year’s clubhouse that led to a resounding comeback from a lost season to a finish that demolished the Atlanta Braves in 2019’s final series, leaving the Mets to six games over .500.
Nevertheless, the Mets won nothing last year, and they watched the World Series from their homes.
This year, the internal pledge was to continue what they started, only this time the Mets would be playing baseball in October.
Mets: If The Pitching Can’t, The Hitting Must
Alas, to mark the beginning of the season’s final month, the Mets took their 15-21 record and a five-game losing streak to Baltimore on Wednesday with fear the season was running away from them.
Michael Conforto stepped up, though, with a 4-5 explosion that included a two-run blast, leading the Mets to a win over the Orioles and a trip back home to face the Yankees in the finale of this year’s Subway Series.
Buoyed by that effort and the reacquaintance with Todd Frazier, whom the Mets acquired from the Texas Rangers at the trade deadline, the team still needed the “Big Guy” in their lineup to pick up the pace.
And so it came to be that Pete Alonso, as the leadoff batter in the tenth-inning facing Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman drilled a no-doubt line drive into the left-field seats for a walk-off win and a well-deserved team celebration at home plate.
Without these two wins, the Mets’ season would have been on life-support, despite Gm Brodie Van Wagenen’s “I’m not quitting” statement to New York media and Mets fans.
But beyond the box scores, it is Todd Frazier, the local boy who made good, who brings life and experience to the Mets clubhouse, telling the New York Post, it a “good surprise” he was traded to the Mets.
Three hits in yesterday’s two-time come from behind win against the skidding Yankees did nothing to suppress Frazier’s enthusiasm and value to the team.
Mets: Crawling From The Wreckage
They say Rome wasn’t built in a day and the 2020 Mets bear witness to the cliche in what was a season curtailed from the beginning by the loss of Noah Syndergaard (out for the season) and the decision by Marcus Stroman to opt-out for COVID related reasons.
The hodgepodge olio of Mets starters following Jacob deGrom has proved to be subjected to the law of diminishing returns, as Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha are falling short of what was hoped to be a rejuvenation of stalled careers.
The emerging truth is the Mets will give up runs to opposition teams, and this, in turn, moves the burden to the team’s offense to outscore the other guys as they did the last two days – 9-6 and 9-7.
At a minimum, the Mets have proven they are capable of doing that, it’s just a question of whether or not they can do it on a consistent enough basis to erase what is now a -14 run differential to close out the season.
Pete Alonso needed a lift, perhaps even more than the Mets. No one will say it, but the Polar Bear has been pressing since day one, while on a counter-productive mission to match or better the phenomenal year he had in 2019.
The home run yesterday could be the beginning of something big or the beginning of the end of what will amount to a disastrous sophomore season.
It all depends on whether Alonso can stay within himself, to recover the see the ball hit the ball mental approach that served him so well last season.
The Mets: Teasers Or On The Way Back
In sum, the 2020 season is not what the Mets and their fans expected it to be. On paper, their 17-21 record should, at a minimum, be reversed.
But 2020 allows being one of eight teams to qualify for the postseason in the National League.
We’ll know more when the Mets complete their weekend series with the Philadelphia Phillies (18-15), Joe Girardi’s team that has climbed back into the thick of things in NL East.
Was it a tease, or was it real, and the start of something the Mets can build on while looking to Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso, and the presence of Todd Frazier to carry the team forward?