Sometimes it is better to hold a pat hand, which is what the Mets have done with Jonathan Niese over the past few years. More than a few times we heard Niese’s name mentioned in a possible trade.
NIESE: Untouchable (AP)
Whom the Mets would have received in return would not have lifted them from their 2007-2011 funk. At least, not as much as Niese is lifting them now. He’s 7-3 after last night’s 11-1 rout of the Phillies.
The players the Mets might have received could have given them a temporary spark, but they were in need of a deep rebuilding with their pitching and that begins with a stud left-hander, and Niese certainly fits that mold.
Niese was dominant last night with all his pitches, working quickly and staying ahead in the count. Give him a few runs and he’s golden. Last night he had more than he needed.
Niese is a major reason why the Mets, if the season ended today, would be in the playoffs. There’s nobody that could have predicted. Nobody.
At one time the Mets were eight games over .500 and poised to go on a roll. Instead, they faltered and threatened to go below .500. However, this has been a resilient team – perhaps its best attribute and they are seven over with two more games against the Phillies and three against the Cubs. Ten over by the break is very possible.
The Mets are doing what they should be doing against the reeling Phillies, and that is to beat up on them. When facing a down team go for the throat. While they are hurting, the Phillies still have that strong rotation and Ryan Howard due back. The season is not over for them. Other teams have made up more ground in less time, so putting as much space between them is essential for the Mets.
The Mets and Phillies have had a fake rivalry, and it has been rare when both teams were good at the same time. That’s when the competitive edge of the rivalry comes into play. They are division rivals and geographic rivals, but there’s little tenseness.
An element of hate was removed when Jose Reyes left in the offseason. The Phillies despised him and his style of play and gloated whenever they could. Reyes is gone and took that spice with him.
This year the Mets are playing well and chasing Washington for the NL East. Meanwhile, the Phillies are down and have made it known they will listen to offers for Shane Victorino and Cole Hamels. Both would look nice in Mets pinstripes, but forget it.
The Phillies have been in the playoffs since 2007. This year they’ve been beset with injuries and sluggish play. This is the time for the Mets to put them away, to put three games worth of distance between them before the All-Star break.
If the Mets are as good as they claim to be, they need to continue their momentum from the Dodgers series – including overcoming the disappointment of not getting a sweep – and laying the wood on a wounded opponent.
In that sense, there’s an element to the rivalry that has been missing.
There was always an uneasy feeling about yesterday, beginning in the first inning when Andres Torres was picked off, costing the Mets a run.
The Mets were poised to complete a four-game sweep of the Dodgers, but there was never that growing sense of anticipation. Three errors, an offensive shutdown and the bullpen combined to throw away what could have been a watershed moment in this season.
Nope: Dodgers, 8-3 over the Mets.
Believe me, I thought it. The Mets sweep, then roll the reeling Phillies as they head into the break at least ten games over .500.
The onus is on the defense, but remember it is up to Dillon Gee and the relievers to put adversity behind them.
When the Mets’ schedule came out today was a game I circled on my calendar. Banner Day at Citi Field and the revival of one of the Mets’ great traditions. I used to love Banner Day simply because of its uniqueness. No team had anything remotely as close.
DICKEY: Has Padres guessing all day.
Speaking of uniqueness, what’s more unique than R.A. Dickey’s knuckler? Maybe it burst onto the Mets’ lore as an aberration and a gimmick, but it is getting better and better, damn near unhittable.
After today, Dickey is 7-1 and you tell me anybody more deserving to be named to the All-Star team? As of now, he should start. He along with David Wright.
This last week as been rough for me physically, but the Mets have made the time fly, and it has been fun. Loved watching Dickey toy with the Padres today. Looking forward to tomorrow afternoon’s holiday game with the Phillies. Wish it was a doubleheader.
This is developing into a compelling and interesting baseball season, and the Mets are making a lot of positive headlines. Six games over .400 with June days away. I couldn’t have asked for more.
The Mets are back in Philly tonight for the start of a three-game series. The Mets won two or three last time and the Phillies continue to struggle. While nobody expects the Phillies to flounder all season, the Mets have a chance to step on them when they are down.
Andres Torres, cf
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, lf
David Wright, 3b
Lucas Duda, rf
Daniel Murphy, 2b
Ike Davis, 1b
Justin Turner, ss
Josh Thole, c
Jon Niese, lhp
LINEUP COMMENTS: Justin Turner replaces the injured Ruben Tejada. I like Kirk Nieuwenhuis elevated in the batting order, but still want him returned to leadoff. I thought the team played with more spark with him leading off.
ON DECK: Tejada update.