It seems to be a recurring theme with the Mets that, more often than not, when they are going against a team that is far inferior to them, or even just partially inferior to them, that they win the first two games of a series, and then let up and let the lesser team win the 3rd game, rather than smashing them for the sweep they really should be getting.
This past weekend was just another example of this. The Mets played what was, for them, a typical Idiot-Mets Series against the Washington Nationals, a team that they should have pounded into submission, kicked in the nuts and taken their lunch money. In fact, this weekend featured so many of the same stupid performances that we've come to know over the past few seasons that this weekend was probably indistinguishable from any other 3-game weekend series that the Mets have played in Citi Field, or last season at Shea. You could probably write it up in a script.
Starts with a gloomy Friday night, either rainy or just hazy. With the Ace on the Mound, the pressure should be off the offense to light it up. Just a few runs ought to do it, but considering the quality of the opponent, and considering the track record against the opposing starting pitcher, the Mets really should be pummelling this guy. But, these are the Mets. They get single after single, and get guys on base all over the place, but, try as they might, they can't seem to get any of them home. By the end of the game, they've managed 11 hits and drawn 7 walks, but scored only 4 runs. But the Ace is the Ace, and as such removes any such drama from the game in his 6-inning effort. The closer makes it a little hairy in the 9th, but ultimately closes out a victory for the Mets, in spite of themselves.
Cut to a bright, warm, sunny Saturday afternoon, in front of what should have been a packed house (39,000 was the count). The Mets, today, jump on their opponent early and often, and their #2 starter, back from an arm injury that had limited his effectiveness, is solid throughout. There are flashes of brilliance and flashes of suckitude throughout the game, but the Mets, aided by 3 errors and terrible pitching from their lesser opponent, manage to score 8 runs and win the game fairly handily.
Cut to Sunday, where the Mets, happy and cheerful following their runaway victory on Saturday, appear primed to sweep the lesser opponent. But, hey, with the series already won, why not let up? Because a good team isn't supposed to let up. A good team buries the lesser opponent. With the opponent throwing a rookie in his 2nd Major League appearance, that scenario seems likely.
Oh, wait, I forgot to mention the plot twist: The Mets are starting the guy who mixes good outings and putrid outings, sometimes within the same game. The fate of the series depends upon which version of this pitcher will show up today.
Predictably, it's the bad one.
As is generally the case with this particular pitcher, he starts off well, getting out of the 1st inning without much trouble. The Mets even get him the lead in the bottom of the 1st. But you know that, at some point, he's going to give that run back, and probably some more. You just don't know when. Could be the 2nd, could be the 5th, could be the 7th.
Sunday, that lead is gone before the paint can even dry. And before anyone knows what's hit them, the opponent's rookie starter is dominating the Mets and the Mets inconsistent starter is getting tagged for 8 runs and getting booed off the mound in another typical Mets bloodbath. So much for the Sweep, so much for the sanity.
The Mets could have gone a ways in restoring some of the fan base's confidence over this weekend, and a sweep certainly would have helped. But for some reason, I kind of feel like they were lucky to win 2 out of 3. They win a lot of games in spite of themselves, and you can get away with that against a bad team such as Washington. Once the good teams start rolling into town, the Mets need to prove they can hang. One thing that means is that Ollie has to stop puking up games like this. I don't know what his problem is in particular, but this isn't encouraging and it isn't good. The rest of the problems have been talked about enough. Hell, Ollie's been talked about enough.
This team needs to just shut up and start playing good baseball if they want to earn any respect.