Jun 30

Mets Beware Of Trap Series

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression of a “trap series,’’ and the Mets are cruising into one this weekend at home against the Phillies, owners of the worst record in the sport.

DE GROM: Needs to keep things rolling.  (AP)

DE GROM: Needs to keep things rolling. (AP)

Sandwiched between the end of a road trip they closed by winning five of six games and a three-game series in Washington, the Mets could be in a precarious situation should they take the Phillies lightly.

After being swept in a four-game series in Los Angeles, the Mets were staring into the abyss. Instead, they swept the Giants – it still counts in the standings – and won two of three in Miami, a place where they traditionally have trouble.

Seth Lugo pitched brilliantly for six innings last night and the Mets have Jacob deGrom going tonight.

“We’re hoping our pitching is starting to fall in place right now,’’ Collins said Thursday in Miami. “And if it does, we’ve got an exciting second half ahead of us.’’

If the Mets sweep the Phillies, they then travel to Washington, whom they trail by 10.5 games. They made up wild-card ground this last week and trail Colorado by 9.5 games for the second wild card. They open the second half with three games against the Rockies at Citi Field.

However, to catch the Rockies they must first leapfrog the Cardinals, whom they play seven times over the next two weeks.

That’s a lot of looking ahead, and sometimes when you look too far ahead you miss what’s right in front of your face. And, we’ve seen this before from the Mets. Just when they start feeling good about themselves they walk into the door.

Jay Bruce said last night the Mets haven’t been consistent, and “we need to play great baseball’’ if they are to have a chance.

The Mets said all the right things. Yes, the Mets talk a good game. Now they have to play a good game. Beginning tonight.

Jun 26

Don’t Read Too Much Into Giants’ Sweep

In most seasons, the Mets sweeping the Giants in San Francisco would be something to get excited about, but this isn’t most years. To emphasize how bad the Giants are this season, they were just swept by the Mets, and we know how bad they have been.

This weekend was just the Mets’ third series victory of the month, and they’ll need to reel off a dozen more in a row if they are to turn this season around.

The Mets’ next two series are against Miami and Philadelphia – they are 4-6 and 4-2 against, respectively – before back-to-back three-game series in Washington and St. Louis before the break.

The Marlins and Cardinals always play the Mets tough, and I’m certainly not counting on them beating the Nationals.

Against the three division leaders and the one wild-card team they have played, the Mets are 5-19. After the break until the trade deadline, the Mets have three games against what is now the second wild card – Colorado – four more against St. Louis, and four at San Diego and three at Seattle.

Daunting is an understatement, so I’m not reading too much into the Mets fun in the Bay Area.

Jun 25

Montero Pitches Big For Mets

Rafael Montero made us wonder before, but could this time be different? Not only was Montero terrific in beating the Giants, but Sunday was his third straight solid outing.

With three starters on the disabled list, and the Mets trying to salvage something from their season, this is about as good a piece of news they can currently expect.

MONTERO:  Solid again.  (AP)

MONTERO: Solid again. (AP)

“This is what we were hoping to see from him,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “He didn’t shy away. I hope this is what we’re going to see from here on from him. Hopefully, this is a huge wake-up call that he can pitch in this league.’’

After giving one run in 3.2 innings against the Dodgers, and three scoreless against the Nationals, Montero gave up one run in 5.2 innings today to earn his second career victory, beating the Giants, 8-2.

Command has always been a problem for Montero. He only walked two Giants, but only 61 of his 104 pitches were strikes, which leaves plenty of room for improvement.

If there was a signature moment, it came in the sixth. The Giants had runners on first and second with nobody out and he busted a fastball in off the fists of Buster Posey, popped out into a double play. It was a pitch thrown with confidence because if Montero missed and the pitch tailed over the plate Posey could have crushed it and change the complexion of the game.

Zack Wheeler will be eligible to come off the disabled list in a week, but if he’s not ready Montero could slot in again.

And, this time Collins won’t have to cross his fingers.

 

 

 

Jun 12

Cubs-Mets Is Opening Day II

Call Cubs-Mets Opening Day II.  The World Champion Cubs – something I never thought I’d write – are in tonight for a three-game series. After them, the Mets play the Nationals, Dodgers and Giants over a two-week stretch that will define their season.

The Mets are feeling good about themselves these days after winning three-of-four in Atlanta, and the returns of Steven Matz and Seth Lugo – who each worked seven strong in their starts – and Yoenis Cespedes, who ripped a pinch-hit grand slam.

CESPEDES: Mets need his bat. (AP)

CESPEDES: Mets need his bat. (AP)

“This is fun, you’re playing the world champs, you are playing arguably the best team in our division,” Collins said. “We’re a little healthier and having Ces back is big, but we’ve got to go pitch. It’s going to be a fun week. I just hope we go out and play well.”

In their last five games, Mets’ starters have given up three runs over 32.2 innings. However, none of those games include Jacob deGrom, tonight’s starter. DeGrom has given up 15 runs in his last two starts. We’re used to seeing deGrom give up 15 runs in a month of starts, and if he doesn’t get back to that form the Mets can forget about sniffing the playoffs this year.

The big series, of course, is the four-game set against the Nationals. If they sweep that, then the Mets trail by only six games. That’s entirely doable.

However, for that series to mean anything they have to take care of business against Chicago as they can’t afford to fall any further behind. The Mets are fortunate in that they are playing a listless Cubs’ team that is only .500 at 31-31.

“We went through that last year,” Collins said of the Cubs. “Going to the World Series really beats up your pitching and as a team, it takes a while to get that energy back.”

The Mets seemed energized against the Braves, and they can’t afford any letdowns the rest of the way. These next two weeks will determine what they do at the trade deadline and whether there will be a summer worth watching.

ON DECK: What’s Wrong With DeGrom?

 

May 08

Mets Wrap: Mets Show Resiliency

For the second time in eight days, the Mets got back to their feet after taking what could have been a knockout punch. Tonight they responded from Matt Harvey’s latest brush with immaturity, while a week ago today they responded from losing Noah Syndergaard and by 17 runs to the Nationals.

WALKER: Raps game-winner. (AP)

WALKER: Raps game-winner. (AP)

Tonight, Neil Walker’s ninth-inning single carried the Mets 4-3 victory over the Giants to push the Harvey Soap Opera to the back burner. We’ll see how things are tomorrow when Harvey returns to Citi Field.

The Mets reached the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, both times overcoming a myriad of injuries and lengthy team hitting slump to play meaningful October baseball.

They are already facing the same obstacles this season but responded with a stretch of losing 10 of 11 by winning seven of ten.

“You can’t let things linger, you have to move on,” manager Terry Collins said, referring to both Syndergaard’s injury and Harvey’s latest. “We have a great bunch. They are a group of veteran guys. They don’t let down.”

Collins said a win like tonight can be built on to define a season.

“It can,” Collins said. “Yesterday was a tough day. They showed up today and got after it. You have to be resilient in this game. You have to deal with it.”

DeGROM OFF: With Syndergaard on the 60-day disabled list and no knowing where Harvey’s head or heart is located, it’s up to Jacob deGrom to lead what was supposed to be a dominating staff.

Actually, the marquee staff of deGrom, Syndergaard, Harvey, Steve Matz (on the disabled list) and today’s starter Zack Wheeler have never gone through the rotation in order.

DeGrom struck out at least ten for the fourth time in five starts, but walked three and gave up homers to Hunter Pence and Buster Posey in six innings.

By definition, it was a quality start, but deGrom was having none of that talk: “It was better than the last one, but there were still walks and I didn’t get the ball down like I wanted to. If I could figure out I would. I left two balls up and they hit it over the fence.”

MILONE TO START: Newly-acquired Tommy Milone will start Wednesday in the series finale against the Giants. Milone will replace Rafael Montero.

CESPEDES UPDATE: Collins said Yoenis Cespedes reports his hamstring is feeling better, but he is still at least ten days from resuming baseball activities and two weeks from getting in a game.

If you recall, when Cespedes was placed on the disabled list, Alderson said he could be back by May 8, which, of course, is today.