After the Mets came away with the victory in what was a classic Heart Attack game on Sunday afternoon (and for a perfect definition of what a Heart Attack game is, I give you this example), things looked good. Philly had lost, the lead was back to 2 1/2, and it seemed like, after 3 straight victories to close out the weekend in Florida, the Mets finally had this thing under control. The clinching would come, perhaps as soon as Wednesday.
But more than that, the key performances were coming from some unlikely places. Joe Smith, Aaron Sele and Scott Schoeneweis were the unsung heroes, as well as Mota chipping in with some key outs in between big hits from usual suspects Alou, Delgado and Wright. Yes, Heilman was terrible. Yes, Wagner was rusty. But the victories over the weekend looked like the signal that the worst was over for the Mets. Now, back home to cruise.
We should have known it wasn't going to be that easy.
Coming home, where the Mets have not played well at all this season, playing a Nationals team that ran them through the wringer last week (and did the same to Philadelphia over the weekend), the Mets came home and fell flat on their faces, in a performance that seemed to hearken back to a number of bad habits and bad times. Pelfrey was wild, Mota was terrible, Reyes couldn't hit a line drive and the Mets just got killed, shrinking the division lead and ensuring the Phillies one more day of life in this ridiculously extended race for the division.
Merely a hiccup, we all hope, although a very good, and really fucking frightening point was made by Greg over at Faith and Fear: Just when it seems like the offense is clicking, and able to overcome the poor performances out of the bullpen, the offense suddenly grinds to a halt and then the bullpen starts pitching well, leading to a lot of those miserable, frustrating 3-1 losses that the Mets seemed to play for pretty much the entire month of June. And as we have seen, it is absolutely essential for the Mets to hit if they are going to contend for the Denslow Cup.
Maybe I'm nuts. Maybe the Nationals are just that frisky, and Manny Acta is just really cranked up to be the spoiler (much like Bobby Cox is fixing to do in Philadelphia). Maybe they just ran into Matt Chico on one of his best nights. Maybe it will all turn back to the good side tomorrow. Once again, this season has just completely baffled me as far as what to expect. All I know is that now, a potential clincher can't come any earlier than Thursday. Or, the Mets hold on first place can last as far as Thursday. One or the other.