The Mets did more than complete a sweep of the Cincinnati Reds, they did what all contenders must do, which is take care of business.
It’s hard enough to beat a team in three straight games, but the streak is now 14 straight for the Mets over the Reds with a 6-3 victory Wednesday.
The Reds showed why they are 24 games below .500, but manager Terry Collins said there was no danger of the Mets playing down to their competition, which they frequently have this summer.
“Our guys are completely focused on what they’ve got to do and how they’ve got to go about it,” Collins said.
Beginning with the game’s first pitch, which Jose Reyes crushed over the wall in right, the Reds did everything they could to give the game to the Mets, who gladly accepted.
The Reds had three runners thrown out attempting to steal, including one at the plate; they went 3-for-13 with RISP; they struck out 13 times; they left 12 runners. When offered such gifts, a contender must capitalize, which the Mets did, something they often didn’t do for nearly three months this summer.
Now, with a little over three weeks remaining, the Mets have sliced into a once 5.5-game wild-card deficit to mere percentage points behind St. Louis for the second wild-card after the Cardinals lost in Pittsburgh Wednesday.
Taking advantage of opportunities is why the Mets are back in the race and today’s primary storyline. The others are Reyes’ continued solid play and winning with Noah Syndergaard not at his best.
REYES DOES IT ALL: Reyes not only homered, but also stole a base, singled and scored two runs. Again, he played a solid third base.
“I thought he was going to be a guy that could create some runs by getting on base,” Collins said of Reyes. “But he’s gotten big hits, huge hits. There’s no question there’s a lot of baseball left in that guy.”
The Mets acquired Reyes as a spark plug and a stopgap, and he’s responded by hitting.287 with six homers, 15 RBI, eight stolen bases and a .341 on-base percentage as a reliable leadoff hitter.
Reyes’ production enabled Collins to drop the struggling Curtis Granderson to the middle of the order, where he’s finally showing signs of production.
Granderson hit his second homer in as many games hitting behind Yoenis Cespedes in the clean-up spot. Granderson now has 25 homers and 45 RBI.
Wilmer Flores also homered, his 16th of the season.
SYNDERGAARD STRUGGLES: All this power picked up Syndergaard, who pitched five scoreless innings, but allowed ten runners (six hits and four walks).
Syndergaard’s problem was again command, evidenced by 95 pitches, of which only 61 were strikes.
Syndergaard’s short outing forced Collins to dip deep into his bullpen using five relievers. Of the five, only one – Gabriel Ynoa, who gave up three runs – isn’t expected to be on the playoff roster if the Mets are fortunate to have one.
And, right now that’s a good possibility because they are taking care of business.