While it is still early in the season, it is NOT premature for the Mets to approach this weekend’s series with Washington with a sense of urgency and purpose.
It would be wrong to call it critical, just as it would be to say it is like any other series. Clearly, it is not. Earlier this week the Mets held an unlikely eight-game lead over the Nationals in the NL East. It is now down to six.
Who didn’t think at the time, even for one moment, that the Mets could be up by 12 games if they swept the Nationals? I did, but I also thought today the Mets’ lead could be down to two if they were swept.
That’s the thing about math, it works both ways.
That’s why it is important for the Mets to play well. They can’t be thinking things like they will be fine if they just split, because they won’t. Splitting would be a disappointment. They need to go in wanting go for the throat. Playoff caliber teams don’t think about splitting series in May. They think about winning them.
Messages can be sent early in a season and the Mets need to reaffirm, 1) their hot start was not a fluke, 2) this is a different team and they will be around this year, 3) Citi Field does give them a home field advantage, and, most importantly, 4) they aren’t afraid of the team that beat them 15 times last year.
Washington enters on an upswing, while the Mets limp in after losing four of their last six. However, in looking at how they have played, they really only had two stinkers – both losses at Yankee Stadium – and played the Marlins tight.
Prior to the Miami series I wondered if it could be a trap series, but the Mets played well. They rallied to lose late in the second game, and Bartolo Colon gave them a solid start Wednesday night. They just got beat and it wasn’t because they lost focus.
One of the reasons why they lost Wednesday was because they couldn’t turn a double play in the first inning and Giancarlo Stanton followed with a two-run homer.
Later, Colon said, “things happen.’’
Michael Cuddyer, who hit a two-run homer Wednesday, said the Mets are entering this series with a proper frame of mind.
“There’s no concern,’’ Cuddyer said. “We played well [in Miami]. When you play 162 games, that’s going to happen. No, no, there’s no concern.’’
Maybe concern isn’t the right word, but I am willing to bet inwardly the Mets are a little more jacked up than if they were playing say, the Milwaukee Brewers this weekend. At least, I sure hope they are.
In looking at the big picture, where the Mets have been since moving to Citi Field and where they are now, this might be their most important series in this ballpark.
Here’s hoping they can really make it a home.