This is how it was supposed to be all along: Good offense, dominant pitching and winning.
But as we have come to learn, games like Friday and Saturday have been few and far between for the Mets in 2017.
New York’s split personality pitching staff showed its positive side Saturday night with a solid performance from starter Seth Lugo.
After an awful outing against the Nationals prior to the All-Star break where Lugo let up six runs on 10 hits in five innings, he bounced back with 6 2/3 strong frames on Saturday.
The 27-year-old allowed three runs on seven hits, surrendering a pair of walks while striking out five en route to his fourth victory of the season.
“He pitched very well,” Terry Collins said. “He changed speeds, again, like we know he can do. When we get well-pitched games, we know that can be the difference.”
Lugo also gave the Rockies a little taste of bat, launching a 406 foot solo shot to center field off Colorado’s Chris Rusin in the bottom of the third for his first major league home run to extend New York’s lead 8-0.
After rounding the bases, Lugo returned to the silent treatment in the Mets dugout, but celebrated by himself regardless.
“When I was running around the bases, it was pretty surreal,” Lugo said. “I always looked forward to that moment, It just came naturally.”
“Everyone who hits a home run, Cabrera takes off their helmet, and I always looked forward to that,” he continued. “I knew I was going to get a home run sometime, but I had to give [the celebration] to myself.”
Mets pitchers have a history of prolific hitting, and although it’s a thrill every time a ball leaves the park or slips through the middle, I would trade proficiency at the plate with more consistency on the mound in a heartbeat.
Coming into this game my cynicism got the best of me because aside from Jacob deGrom, it’s been difficult to wrangle back-to-back wins from the rest of the starting rotation.
This season the Mets have teased their fans with stellar outings one night followed by disastrous results the following day.
It’s a great sign that they’re firing on all cylinders out of the All-Star break – badly beating a team 11 games over .500. The big uncertainty is whether or not they can sustain this level of play.
“It’s very important, very important,” Bruce said of the small success the Mets have had in the second half thus far. “It’s just two games. There’s a lot of baseball to play. We still have to play great, but we just want to give ourselves a chance.”
But of course, the win would not come without the dramatics.
In the sixth inning, Yoenis Cespedes got caught in the outfield grass attempting to catch a ball, which created a divot as the outfielder came up awkwardly.
While manager Terry Collins said it was for precautionary reasons, we have seen this before: Something seems minor, Mets downplay it and the severity of the injury turns out to be worse than was originally reported.
But Cespedes himself says the sore hip he suffered Saturday is nothing.
”I think I could have definitely kept on playing, it’s just because of the score of the game we just decided to play it safe,” he said.
If the slugger should miss some time, Collins says the Mets will just have to power through.
“If he’s out for a period of time, we’ll just have to do the best we can,” Collins said. “Do I think we can (survive)? Yeah. I mean, you have to.”
While La Potencia’s presence in the lineup when he’s healthy is an absolute game changer, the Mets have shown positives at the dish that need to continue if they want any taste of the postseason.
Jose Reyes is having a red-hot resurgence, hitting .333 in his last 23 games with 13 extra base hits and six home runs. Cespedes’ bat has been blazing, even though his lower body is taking a beating. Jay Bruce is taking everyone yard, and you gotta love the .304 batting average T.J. Rivera’s bringing to the party now that he’s getting more playing time.
If the Mets can maintain the offensive barrage that they’ve blindsided the Rockies with these past two games, and keep it together on the mound until Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia return, who knows?
They just might give the Wild Card race a run for its money come this fall.