As our beloved Mets continue to pick up momentum after willing their way to a 1-0 defeat of the Phillies last night behind the golden arm of Johan Santana, the team must now sustain the new found toughness as they enter what could be described as a “weaker” part of their May schedule. The next three series pit the Mets against the Pirates, Braves and Giants, and as the Mets appear to be playing their best baseball of the season thus far, these are all teams a bonafide playoff contender should feast on, and the Mets are no different.
I’m not certain if it is just coincidence or is the new found toughness of the Mets a result of the critical remarks made by Omar Minaya last Thursday?
In the short two game series sweep of the Braves at Turner Field on Monday and Tuesday, and going back even further to the win against the Phillies last Friday, the Mets are carrying themselves in a different manner that has the team playing with fire and passion, something us fans have not seen on a consistent basis since 2006 for the most part.
What is different you ask? A perfect example can be found in the way the Mets fell to the Phillies on Saturday afternoon with a heart breaking defeat in extra innings on Sean Greens walk off walk. Last season the Mets would confidence would have plummeted and it likely would have traveled with them to Atlanta for their ensuing series.
But the Mets that we have seen this week did the polar opposite, they showed up in Atlanta, where their troubles over the years have been well documented, and rallied for a big win behind the gutty performance of Maine.
One night later, when Carlos Delgado had a mental lapse in the ninth inning on a pop up to first base, the most prolific Met killer in the modern era, Chipper Jones stepped into the batter’s box with a chance to tie the ball game off and send the Mets home with an epic September-like loss, however unlike years past, the Mets left Turner Field with a rare series sweep after K-Rod was able to persevere and nail the door shut.
As the team has knotted their record up at 13 and are within striking distance of overtaking the division, the starting rotation is beginning to develop the way we all thought it would prior to the season. Livan Hernandez is not going to blow anyone away, but the bottom line is he is going to give the Mets a chance to win just about each time he toes the rubber. John Maine appears to have shaken the mental demons he battled earlier in the season to resemble the flame thrower that we grew accustomed two over the last two seasons. Mike Pelfrey, who goes for the Mets tonight in their efforts to sweep the Phillies, continues to improve every time he takes the mound. Johan Santana, is well, we all know that Santana is not just the best player on the Mets but he is the best player in the entire National League East and the best pitcher the game has to offer. With Oliver Perez summoned to the bullpen and seemingly the disabled list, Jon Niese will now be called upon to fill the vacated spot in the rotation Friday night against the Pirates.
Despite his high ERA for AAA Buffalo, Niese cannot do any worse than Perez did and with the weak schedule on the horizon, it is a good time to build the confidence of the young hurler. So, whether it is just the element of luck or the stars aligning at the right time, have the Mets finally found the “edge” that they so obviously lacked the last two years? I cannot answer that for certain, but for my sake and the teams, I sure do hope so.