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There is a lot of excitement building around the Mets. Not since the mid to late 1980's has the focus been on the Mets rather than the Yankees. Sandy Alderson kept promising that 2015 would be the year that the Mets would be significant. In late June, everyone was calling for the man's head and screaming, yet again, for the Wilpons to sell the team. Late June...hmmm.
You can almost sense something special IS actually happening. After a horrible first-half road record, the Mets had a hugely successful road trip of 8 wins and only 1 loss, completing a four-game sweep of the Phillies after grabbing three straight from the Rockies. But what is so glaring is HOW they are doing it.
In high school I actually wrote a term paper titled "What's Wrong With the Mets?" It was 1976 and the Mets were dreadful. The only bright spots they had at that time were the fact that Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman were still toiling with some success and Dave "Kong" Kingman was hitting moon shots out of Shea Stadium. My English teacher who assigned the paper was not at all pleased. But the fact that she was also the advisor to the school newspaper and I was a budding sportswriter and aspiring sportscaster, she gave me a bit of leeway with the subject matter. I was always that obsessed with the Mets.
The Mets’ season has been very up and down. From an 11-game winning streak (still don’t know how they did it) and first place to disastrous road trips that led to a trip below the .500 mark. A late surge before the break brought them back to contending status, riding the success of the young pitching staff. The team has been a virtual bore except for the tuning in to see what the pitchers will do next – even up at the plate.
You know things are getting serious when benches start clearing during a baseball game. It's not everyday you see a basebrawl but then the Phillies have Larry Bowa in their dugout so you can just about bet something is bound to happen. I am just surprised there was no incident the night before when the Mets were hacking their way to hitting a team-record eight home runs...especially with Bowa in the opposing dugout.
The beautiful thing about the game of baseball is that anything can happen on any given day or any given night. It was an unexpected and welcome surprise that, after Mets starters got shelled the first two games in Colorado, along comes Logan Verrett who throws a gem and makes everyone forget that it was supposed to be Matt Harvey out there. And then when you see that the Mets are waltzing into Philadelphia to take on the last place Phillies with Jacob deGrom on the mound, you would think, no, you would truly believe that the Mets would be focusing on the return of their captain David Wright and nothing else.
So much for being the sacrificial lamb. Logan Verritt took Matt Harvey's turn in the rotation and turned in, well, a Matt Harvey-like performance. Verritt overcame some first inning jitters and provided just what the Mets needed by tossing eight innings of one-run ball. Yes...he only yielded a single run over eight innings at Coors Field and that came on a solo shot by Carlos Gonzalez. The Mets hitting cooled off a bit - well they weren't going to score 14 runs every game - but they did score five runs, thanks in large part to Rockies starter David Hale uncorking back to back wild pitches to plate two runs.
The Mets have shown that even a dismal offense, one that ranks last in the National League, can suddenly come to life when visiting Denver. Given the performance of the team over the course of the season, rather than being a mile high in the Rockies, you would think they were quite a bit lower and in the desert because it most certainly has to be a mirage of some sort. If you are a homer, you always love to see your team trounce the opposition. But let's be honest, the Mets have NOT trounced the Rockies even though they have won back to back games by identical scores of 14-9.
After sweeping the Rockies in four games at CitiField just a week ago, the Mets met with the Rockies on their own turf to begin a three-game series at Coors Field. And the Mets showed that they could keep up with the Rockies brand of "Coors Field baseball" better known as good old fashioned Home Run Derby. Well, at least Yoenis Cespedes did. Cespedes had a career night hitting three home runs, including a second inning grand slam, going five for six with seven RBI, five runs scored, and added a stolen base. The game actually resembled a slow pitch softball game as the teams pounded away at each other with the Mets eventually winning 14-9 after blowing an early 7-1 lead.
The Mets are sitting atop the Eastern Division of the National League yet they are far from running away with the division title. In fact, the thought of meeting up with any of the three teams in the Central Division - Cardinals, Pirates, Cubs - is downright scary. The Mets are doing a pretty good job of beating up on the second division teams...but they are struggling against teams with winning records...as evidenced by their sweep of the Rockies followed up, in turn, by getting swept themselves by the Pirates at CitiField. The split with the Orioles in Baltimore not only showcased the Mets strength, it also showcased their weaknesses.