Admit it. No one saw this coming.
The Mets hit their low point of this season when they were 60-62 on Aug. 19. This featured the Mets getting swept by the awful Diamondbacks at home, losing two of three to the Diamondbacks again the following week and losing first two games to the Giants. During that stretch, beleaguered Mets manager Terry Collins called out his team for being soft and quitting when things were tough after the Diamondbacks swept the Mets on Aug.11.
Fast forward to now, and the Mets are 69-64 after last night’s 5-2 victory over the Marlins at Citi Field. They are nine games behind the Nationals for first place, and they are 1 ½ games behind the Cardinals for the last wild-card spot.
This has been some turnaround. It just shows baseball is such a fluctuating sport that teams go up and down during the course of a long season. This is also a reminder that parity exists in baseball where any team can beat each other on a given night.
It is not a coincidence the Mets won nine of their 11 games when Yoenis Cespedes made his return to the lineup on Aug. 20 after being on the disabled list with a quad injury. In his first game, he hit two home runs along with getting a RBI double in the Mets’ 9-5 victory over the Giants at AT&T Park.
All Cespedes has done is produce since coming back. He has had 15 hits, five home runs and nine RBIs. He hit a game-winning home run on Monday night in the Mets’ 2-1 victory over the Marlins.
The Mets star has a flair for the dramatic. He knows what to do in situational hitting. That can’t be taught. Either a player has it in him to do well or he doesn’t. Unlike Jay Bruce, he does.
He is why the Mets can still make the playoffs and do damage in October. He showed that last year when he was acquired at the trade deadline.
Maybe we should have waited until he came back before we gave up on the Mets altogether.
We probably should have known better about this team. As frustrating as the Mets can be at times, they have been known to be resilient in recent years. They have bounced back after losses by going on a tear. Prior to Cespedes coming to the Mets last year, the Mets somehow stayed afloat despite a terrible offense. They were able to grind it out and get some runs while the starters were pitching well.
The Mets have been able to draw from that experience to the last few weeks. They kept grinding it out with the likes of Wilmer Flores and Kelly Johnson. They found a way to win games when no one expected them to such as winning the series against the Cardinals at St. Louis last week and winning the last three games against the Marlins.
This is a team that knows how to win when the going gets tough. Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising the Mets are in this position right now.
This should give the Mets hope as we head to September now. They have an easy schedule this month as they face the Reds, Braves, Twins and Phillies. Those games they are capable of winning.
The key words are hope and capable. I say that since it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen. I mean who predicted the Mets would go on a 9-2 run right now. In a league of parity, there’s no guarantees. It’s on the Mets to get the job done.
Collins made it a point to thank his players for not giving up on him and themselves after last night’s win before he spoke to the assembled media. It showed he has an appreciation for his players battling through the tough times. He had to be surprised the team hasn’t fallen apart at all.
That’s why it was foolish to think the Mets were going to fire Collins couple of weeks ago. Firing him would have created panic in the clubhouse. It would mean the team is giving up. Fortunately for the Mets, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is not like us where he can’t be rational. He makes pragmatic decisions.
The Mets never quit on their manager. They played for him during those hideous losses.
What they were missing is Cespedes and better pitching.
They have both now, and that’s why they have a chance to play in October.
Whether they play in October or not, they deserve credit for hanging in there. This season hasn’t been easy with championship expectations and injuries to players such as Cespedes, Asdrubal Cabrera, David Wright, Matt Harvey, Lucas Duda, Juan Lagares and Neil Walker.
The Mets announced Walker is out for the season with a bad back.
They can’t dwell on it. Time is running out. They just need to play with what they have. They have proven they can do that.
It’s a tangible that sabermetricians and no one can’t deny.