If the Mets think things are going to get any easier for them after losing three straight series to the Diamondbacks, Phillies and Tigers, think again.
Tonight they begin a three game series against a Los Angeles Dodgers team that has arguably the best starting pitching in the National League. They meet for the first time since last season’s National League Divisional Series. The Mets swept the Dodgers in that series, and you can expect them to be pumped up and ready to exact some revenge on a Mets team that has lost its identity in the last ten days.
Once feared, as the beast from the east, the Mets don’t scare anybody these days, except maybe themselves. It wasn’t long ago that the Mets were riding high and looking unbeatable. They led the league in almost every batting and pitching category. They were in first place and there was no looking back.
Today, they still find themselves in first place, but it’s clear this is not the same team. They have lost 7 of their last 9 games including getting swept by their division rival Phillies. They have lost their swagger.
The Mets still have a lot of baseball left in their season, but how that all plays out depends on how well they do in the next six games.
What they need more than anything tonight is a win. That’s how it begins. That’s how they undo the mayhem of the last ten days.
They have the perfect man for the job in Orlando Hernandez. He has been untouchable in three of his last four starts. On the season he has a 3-1 record with an almost invisible 1.94 ERA. He is not the ace of the team, but he has pitched like one. He is not the team’s stopper, but he can certainly become one tonight.
There’s a lot riding on this series for the Mets. They have proven that they can beat the Nationals, the Marlins, and the Giants. The Mets can scare those teams.
But the Mets do not scare the Braves, the Phillies, the Yankees or the Tigers.
We can change that tonight with a win, followed by another win on Tuesday, and yet another on Wednesday.
After that, it’s a showdown with the Yankees, only this time, it’s on their turf. As a special treat, the Yankees have announced that Roger Clemens will pitch the first game.
If the Mets want to make a real statement, they need to sweep the Dodgers, like they did the last time they faced them. Then they can head into Yankee Stadium with equal doses of confidence and momentum.
If they can do that, then you can count on two things…
1. The Mets will take at least two out of three from the Yankees.
2. The Mets will still be in first place next Monday.
I’m pretty sure that Orlando Hernandez will deliver the goods tonight against the Dodgers. I just hope that our bats and our bullpen are also up for the challenge.