Frank Francisco proved again last night a team is as strong as its bullpen. When the door isn’t slammed, defeat walks through it, and last night the Mets’ winning streak was snapped at five.
A fifth straight comeback win, and six straight victories overall would have represented another step, but they’ll have to start from scratch now. The thing about this team is the feeling it can be done.
It was exciting to see the Mets rally again, getting key pinch-hits from Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter. With how the game began, it looked like a long night.
But the way the Mets fought back, working long counts and playing fundamental baseball was good to see. Lucas Duda hitting a grounder to the right side to advance David Wright; Nieuwenhuis coming back from two strikes; Mike Baxter running up the count before he delivered.
For the most part that is how the Mets have played lately and it reflected in the standings.
Then comes the bullpen, which I’m not sold on. Francisco already has two blown saves and two losses. There’s a reason why the Blue Jays let him go and we’ve seen glimpses of that already.
He’s another reliever that brings to the mound with him an uneasy feeling this might not be a pretty inning. He proved that last night.
The Mets attempt to rebound this afternoon with R.A. Dickey, who has been their most reliable starter. Ricky Nolasco pitches for the Marlins, so this could be low scoring.
Several times this season the Mets answered a winning streak with a losing one. They have won five straight and you wouldn’t be wrong to wonder if the other shoe will drop this weekend in Miami.
Great timing to have Johan Santana start in the opener.
While you and I might wonder, nobody in the Mets’ clubhouse is thinking along those lines. Terry Collins won’t allow it.
The book on Collins going in was he could get uptight and lose a clubhouse. There’s been nothing to suggest he’s going that way. It does show one can adjust, and even change, over time.
Collins came with little fanfare or declarations. There was no timetable to get the Mets into contention. Instead, he promised to change the culture. His teams are prepared and seldom come out flat, with the Houston debacle an exception.
We’ve seen hustle, better pitching and defense than expected, and a manager who sticks by his players. The Mets are hitting at an extraordinary clip with two outs and lead the majors in comeback victories with 11.
Yesterday, I suggested the Mets need to hone a killer instinct and complete the sweep of the Phillies when they were down. There won’t be a premature “Mission Accomplished” announcements because we’ve seen hot stretches cool before, but it was a significant step.
Five games over .500, somewhere they haven’t been since 2010. If I remember correctly, that was Jerry Manuel’s last big moment with the Mets which triggered their slide. It was when Jose Reyes was rushed off the disabled list and you know what happened next.
They won despite a poor outing from Dillon Gee – he called it his worst of the season – and overcoming a good start from Cliff Lee. It was also the 11th time they have come from behind (most in the majors) and Collins reiterated the idea of jumping on a team when it is down.
“We came in and got them at the right time and took advantage of playing hard,” Collins said. “If something happened, there was a mistake, we capitalized on it. It was a great trip for us. We’ll enjoy it for a while and get ready for this weekend.”
Last night’s hero, Jordany Valdespin, is rewarded with a start tonight at shortstop. Here’s who is the lineup with him:
Andres Torres, cf
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, lf
David Wright, 3b
Lucas Duda, rf
Daniel Murphy, 2b
Ike Davis, 1b
Jordany Valdespin, ss
Mike Nickeas, c
Miguel Batista, rhp
LINEUP COMMENTS: I like when Terry Collins rewards his bench players with starts after a good game. It keeps the bench focused. …