Sep 09

The Dream Continues

Not only did the Mets sweep the Nationals for a second straight series, all three games this time were done in come-from-behind fashion. Not only that, the Mets’ pitchers in the first two games – Jon Niese and Matt Harvey – were torched, and Jacob deGrom was off Wednesday night.

None of that mattered as the Mets found away to win because they willed the outcome. As good as Stephen Strasburg was, you never had the feeling the Mets were out of it, but instead, it was only a matter of time.

“ I love where we’re at. We’re rolling,” said Kelly Johnson, who tied the game with a pinch-hit homer off Strasburg in the eighth. And. of course, Yoenis Cespedes, continued his push for MVP consideration, with a game-winning homer in the eighth.

That roll included Michael Conforto driving in an insurance run and making a run-saving catch. It seems like a long time ago that the Mets were reluctant to bring up Conforto as not to damage his confidence. It doesn’t seem like anything can phase Conforto these days.

And, for the third straight night, the bullpen pitched well, despite Bryce Harper‘s cosmetic homer in the eighth.

The Mets left Florida Sunday night having lost two walk-off games to the Marlins and their lead down to four. The Nationals were hot, having won five straight.

For those who remember the titanic collapse of 2007, when they blew a seven-game lead with 17 to play, there’s the thought that these are the Mets so anything can happen. However, it’s a different year with different players, and above all, a different chemistry.

For the past several years, the Nationals simply bullied the Mets. But, this year, the little guys have the muscle.


Sep 09

Things Couldn’t Have Worked Out Better For Matt Harvey

It was Matt Harvey‘s worst outing of the season for the Mets, yet he came out smelling like roses. He’s the guy who doesn’t find loose change under his seat cushions, but $20 bills. At least so far, it has been that way.

HARVEY: Comes up golden. (Getty)

HARVEY: Comes up golden. (Getty)

We don’t know yet how much Harvey will pitch in September and his availability for the playoffs, but things are looking good for now. After four days in which he took a public relations hit for the innings flap issue after agent Scott Boras dared remind GM Sandy Alderson of the 180 innings magic number.

The print media took its shot at Harvey, but SNY continued to treat him with kid gloves as it failed to acknowledge Boras doesn’t say anything without Harvey’s knowledge. Guys, Boras is Harvey’s mouthpiece.

Harvey wants to tread lightly in September and pitch in October, but that might not be possible to his liking. However, Tuesday’s game and the completed sweep tonight gives the Mets a seven-game lead with 23 games remaining, to create a gap seemingly wide enough where missing Harvey a couple of times might be possible without creating any angst. Whether it is Logan Verrett or Steven Matz, it doesn’t matter.

The key here is Harvey got what he wanted with a limited amount of friction from the front office. Even a loss or two might not be the end of the world now. Had Harvey been beaten, he would have gotten all sorts of questions if the controversy was a distraction.

However, if Harvey only starts two more games – against the Yankees and Washington as reported – the question of how sharp he’ll be could become an issue. But for now, that’s just conjecture. For now, the Harvey issue doesn’t seem so intense.



Sep 08

Amazing Comeback All But Seals NL East For Mets

The Mets might as well put the champagne on ice, because this baby is over. The Mets won’t say it, they kept talking about tomorrow, but it is hard to imagine them blowing this now.

In a game the Washington Nationals had to win, they blew a six-run lead as the Mets scored six runs after two were out in the seventh inning as eight straight hitters reached base. The Mets have been a comeback team all year, but tonight they took it to another level.

NIEUWENHUIS: Unloads clutch homer. (AP)

NIEUWENHUIS: Unloads clutch homer. (AP)

Only teams that have destiny smiling upon them does stuff like this. Four times this season they rallied from five or more runs to win.

It was a season-high six-run hole they climbed out of tonight in the 8-7 victory over the team that bullied them the past few years. They have come from behind in the first two games of this series.

“I thought yesterday was pretty good,” David Wright said. “This was amazing. It goes back to the term resiliency. We truly believe we’re in every game. After tonight, we believe it even more.”

“I’m not sure I’ve ever been involved in a bigger win than this,” manager Terry Collins said after the game. “There’s no sense of panic with this team. … To come in here and do what they did tonight was huge.”

I wonder what the over/under was on the times “huge” was said after the game.

When Kirk Nieuwenhuis crushed a pinch-hit homer in the eighth off Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon for the game winner, long forgotten was Matt Harvey‘s disappointing start in which he gave up seven runs. The camera flashed on Harvey several times that inning, and you couldn’t help but wonder what was going through his mind.

He supplied the answer.

“I was frustrated with my start,” Harvey said. “But, it was awesome to see. This was huge for us.”

The game began with a cloud over the Mets pertaining to Harvey’s innings, and that scenario couldn’t be ignored as the Nationals slapped him around. Now, with the Mets’ lead back up to six games with 24 remaining, Harvey’s innings might now be a moot point because they can afford to skip him several times without worrying about coughing up their lead.

“But, we have to keep him sharp,” Collins said, adding he thought Harvey tried to do too much early, “to show everybody who he is.”

Harvey said, “I left too many many pitches out over the plate,” then said what he should have said the other day in Florida.

“I don’t know,” Harvey said when asked when he’ll pitch again. “I’ll be ready whenever they decide to pitch me.”

Collins likes to say Harvey is human, but he is leading a charmed life. It was his muff on a bunt play that seemingly opened the door for the Nationals to blow it open, 7-1, in the sixth.

“He went out there with a lot hanging over him,” Collins said. “I’m proud of him.”

The Mets are also leading a charmed life.

They got Lucas Duda back and he contributed a bases-loaded walk to tie the game. Then, in the ninth he pounced on a bunt to nail Jayson Werth at second. There was so much more on this night. Wright homered.  Yoenis Cespedes made a critical error that allowed three runs to score, but he got them back with a three-run double. Cespedes is a game changer, and the Mets need to sign him.

There was more. Nieuwenhuis homered and he isn’t even supposed to be here as the Mets released him earlier this year. Wilmer Flores, whom the Mets unsuccessfully tried to trade in late July, drove in the first run in the wild seventh.

The bullpen, all of a sudden, is menacing with 9.1 scoreless innings in this series with 15 strikeouts and just two walks. Addison Reed might be the seventh-inning answer as he struck out two, including Bryce HarperTyler Clippard, dealt by the Nationals, blew away is former team in the eighth, and Jeurys Familia earned his 38th save.

The game started miserably for the Mets, but couldn’t have ended any sweeter. Champagne sweet, if you will.

Sep 08

Mets Must Capitalize On Cespedes Extension

No matter what happens tonight in Washington, the Mets received a huge break because Major League Baseball and the Players Association reached an agreement that would allow them to pursue outfielder Yoenis Cespedes throughout the offseason. Cespedes’ contract limited the Mets to a five-day window after the World Series to sign him.

According to the original provision, the Mets wouldn’t have been allowed to sign Cespedes until May 15, and by that time he would have been signed. Considering their record, there’s no way the Mets would have been able to reach a deal with Cespedes in those five years.

However, Cespedes in under contract now and the Mets have his undivided attention. With how he has produced, he is worth bringing him back, even if it costs a lot.

If Cespedes leaves, the Mets will have the familiar problem of needing a power bat in the outfield. Michael Cuddyer will be gone after 2016 and Curtis Granderson will be gone in two years. All their young pitchers are under their control for several years, so there will be available money.

Another thing worth noting, when a team reaches the playoffs after a long dry spell, it doesn’t experience the benefit until the next year (2016). With the schedule now out and the Mets in the midst of a crucial series with Washington, people are already looking forward to next year.

If the Mets let Cespedes slide through their fingers, there’s no telling how this would impact ticket sales.

Since joining the Mets, July 31, for minor league pitcher Michael Fulmer, Cespedes is hitting .311 with 13 homers and 31 RBI in 34 games. He’s been an impact player since joining the major leagues, so what he’s doing isn’t a fluke.

Alderson earned his money with the trade, but keeping him is the real coup.

Sep 08

The Mets 2016 Schedule

The Mets released their 2016 schedule. The first things I look for when the new schedule comes out are the Opening Day opponent, the home opener opponent, and final weekend of the year.

Opening Day is April 4, at Kansas City, which totally stinks. I hate interleague play to begin with, but on  Opening Day it is absurd. In fact, the Mets have two interleague series in April (April 15-17) at Cleveland. This always presents the problems about rescheduling rainouts, or worse, multi-hour rain delays. But, if major league baseball doesn’t care about the comfort and safety of its players, and the comfort of its fans, then I guess I won’t, either.

The home opener is April 8 against Philadelphia. The first homestand has three games each against the Phillies and Marlins. The opener is a Friday and doesn’t have the provision of a built in off day the next day.

Because of the prospect of bad weather, April should be mostly divisional play, which makes rescheduling easier because you know that team will be back. That being said, Cincinnati and San Francisco making their only Citi Field visits in April is also weak.

Besides Kansas City and at Cleveland, interleague play includes the Yankees in back-to-back series (first Citi Field then Yankee Stadium) the first week of August. They also go to Detroit the first week in August and host Chicago the last week in May and Minnesota in mid-September.

Washington comes in May 17-19; July 8-10 and Sept. 2-4.

The Mets have only two West Coast trips, San Diego, Los Angeles and Colorado, May 5-15; Arizona and San Francisco, Aug. 15-21 (they end that trip with three games in St. Louis). From a travel standpoint, they don’t leave the Eastern Time Zone in September. Both scheduling scenarios are huge breaks.

The season ends with back-to-back, three-game series at Miami and Philadelphia. Going under the assumption Atlanta, Miami and Philadelphia will be as bad as they are this season, it is a plus the Mets end of the season with 13 straight games against those three teams. In addition, factoring their records as of today, the Mets have 99 games against teams with losing records.

Starting times have not been announced.

Merry Christmas.