Energy and passion.
While these two attributes have been lacking from New York Mets baseball for the past few years, the team has shown a year’s worth in just four games.
After the ugly Opening Day loss, the team has responded in a big way. That first game was the type of loss that can bury a team right out of the gate, but the Mets found a way to win the next three, albeit in peculiar fashion on Saturday.
What’s more special is that they started on the road in two stadiums where they are known to struggle: Sun Life Stadium in Miami and Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
The Mets didn’t win their first road series last year until mid June when they swept the Baltimore Orioles.
If the Mets can win just one of the next two games (preferably both but they have a better shot tonight against Joe Blanton than tomorrow against Roy Halladay), this first road trip would be everything a Mets fan could ask for.
The team has been stealing bases, taking the extra base on hits and hitting well with runners in scoring position. For example, during last night’s six-run rally in the top of the third inning, the Mets didn’t even have an extra base hit. They instead put together six singles (two by starting pitcher Chris Young which set a news Mets record) and two walks.
The Mets have had success against Cole Hamels, and it was great to see them knock him out early. The hype in Philadelphia may be all about the “four aces” this season, but until they each pitch like an ace, they’re just a regular staff.
Jose Reyes, Angel Pagan and David Wright all seem rejuvenated so far. They must continue to lead by example and create things for the middle of the order.
Though Carlos Beltran is off to a slow start, the players around him are picking up the slack. You have to remember, he played just three games in spring training, so he’s still getting a feel for right field and at the plate.
Terry Collins could possibly consider moving Beltran down in the order to take some of the pressure off him. Ike Davis is off to a hot start and can hit fourth, so Beltran can slide into the fifth or sixth hole (when Jason Bay returns).
While the Mets have only played four games, all of a sudden some of the doubters this season have begun opening their eyes. They may still believe the Mets are destined for a fourth or even fifth-place finish, but they must agree that this energetic play has surprised them.
The diehards, myself included, knew this team could play like this all along. In fact, since the Mets roster may not rival that of the Phillies or Braves, this is the way the Mets will have to play each night to put up wins.
The team seems to be buying into Terry Collins’ philosophy as well.
“One game at a time.”
The New Jersey Devils used this phrase as their motto the last two months as they made a playoff push after a terrible start to their NHL season. While the Devils will come up short of the playoffs, they went on a streak unmatched by any team this year and have now set the bar high for next year.
The Mets can learn something from the Devils: A late season streak is useless if your team is already too far out of contention.
The goal for the Mets will be to take “one game at a time,” and see where it takes them.
Win or lose, all I know is Mets baseball is exciting once again.
Follow me on Twitter @JMMancari.