The come from behind victory by the Mets last night to salvage the final game of their three-game set against the Nationals means far more than the nine-game win streak they put together earlier. This is a team building confidence and showing no signs of being a paper tiger in this year’s pennant race.
The Mets are on their way to another game and another series against the surprising second-place Atlanta Braves, who weren’t supposed to be here until next year. But the game last night against the Nationals was a microcosm of a Mets season in which they have come from behind to win six times. And therefore, it is worthy of a second look.
When Brandon Nimmo failed as a pinch hitter for Steven Matz in the fifth inning with runners on and the Mets threatening to break the game open again against the Nationals, I have to admit to grabbing the remote and switching off to another game. The Mets, however, had other ideas, putting together an eight-run inning capped by a grand slam home run from the team’s “Big Hurt”, Yoenis Cespedes.
But even more telling was the SNY telecast capturing the conversation in the Mets dugout between manager Mickey Callaway, pitching coach Dave Eiland, and starting pitcher Steven Matz, before Matz was pulled from the game. There was no sound, of course. But you could imagine the exchange.
At the time, a check of the box score shows Matz having made one bad pitch that went for a three-run home run and an early lead for the Nationals. But over four innings, Matz had surrendered only two other hits and had struck out six.
Matz, while noticeably disappointed, primarily because a criticism hurled his way has been his inability to get deep into games causing stress on the bullpen, but he stayed calm, accepting the decision made by “the boss.”
Not to worry though as the Mets bullpen showed up once again until the offense did their imitation of the Boston Red Sox. Paul Sewald, an invited but non-roster player to Spring Training, quietly held the Nationals over three innings, surrendering only one run and striking out five.
Seth Lugo, a converted starter who was ticketed for Triple-A due to the emergence of the healthy Five Aces, comes in for the “save,” and the Mets celebrate their thirteenth win of the season.
The contrast between this season and 2017 when the NL East Standings looked like this on April 19 could not be more revealing:
And while the parallel between this year’s version of the New York Mets and the team the New York Yankees fielded in 2017 appears to be ever so close in terms of the “surpisability” of the team from Queens, if there is such a word, the Mets are forging a team personality that is their own.
The Mets appear to slough off even the most devasting setbacks, continuing to move forward. Jose Lobaton (who?) is their regular catcher, pushed into the lineup when injuries cast both Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Palwecki to the sidelines. Who would have thought?
How long can it last? Well, most Realistic Mets Fans no it can’t go on forever, and the team will not be playing at a nearly .800 clip for the rest of the season. But at the same time, Mets fans can take comfort in Sandy Alderson’s understated moves during the offseason, bringing in the veteran and tested players like Todd Frazier and Adrian Gonzalez into a clubhouse that needed a charge and a sense of accountability.
Oh, it’s early, and we all know that. But sometimes, you see something in a team that is growing and has the potential to be lasting. Along with the Arizona Diamondbacks and California Angels (or whatever they are called these days), the New York Mets are built to have the staying power to make this season enjoyable.
Six come from behind wins speak loud, and maybe fans like myself need to begin paying a bit more attention to what the Mets are doing, and that remote needs to be held in check a while longer tonight, and in all games, this team is playing.