Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Right Answer

At the outset of the season, or maybe even before, I talked about how I believed the Mets were flying under everyone's radar and not being taken seriously, but they shouldn't be slept on because they're a much better team than anyone wants to give them credit for. Everyone was talking about teams like Washington, and even Miami ahead of the Mets. Not sexy. Not experienced enough. Too many questions.

Funny how things can change.

The Mets have been flipping the script on Washington all season and on Wednesday night they did it once again. For 7 innings, Stephen Strasburg had them on the ropes, looking like his vintage self and gassing the Mets. Jacob deGrom, in what was his best outing in several trips, held his ground just fine but nonetheless departed the game with a 2-1 deficit. But the way this series has gone, with the Mets coming back from deficits on a regular basis, you had to think the Mets had one good rally in them.

The Mets got those runs back and then some, although it wasn't so much a rally as much as it was a pair of lightning strikes that left Washington stunned and without an answer. Kelly Johnson led off the 8th pinch hitting for Wilmer Flores and belted a Home Run to tie the game. Undaunted, Strasburg remained in and picked up a strikeout on Kirk Nieuwenhuis, but then gave up a single to Curtis Granderson and his night was done. Matt Williams' choice to replace Strasburg, puzzlingly, was Drew Storen. Støren, as you may recall, was central in Washington's 7th inning meltdown on Tuesday and has been patently awful for a month, as opposed to being barely passable at other times. Støren had the task of having to get out Yoenis Cespedes, who's been the hottest hitter on the planet lately. You sort of knew where this was going. It took all of 2 pitches before Cespedes took a fastball and launched it out of sight for a 2-run Home Run to put the Mets ahead for good.

Though Tyler Clippard allowed a Home Run to Bryce Harper, Washington got no closer. The Mets tacked on an insurance run in the 9th—a little thing that might get overlooked in the grand scheme of things—and Jeurys Familia sealed the deal in the 9th to finish off the game and finish off a sweep.

There are still 23 games left in the season and we've seen all sorts of weird, horrible things happen as things go down to the wire. But it feels different right now. The Mets lead Washington by 7 games now, and they just swept them and kind of embarrassed them in the process. Every time Washington took a shot—and it was probably their best shot—€”the Mets answered. Terry Collins made every move work and on the other side Matt Williams was grasping at straws for a solution. Washington had a lead in all three of these games and each time they couldn't seal the deal. For a team that had set up their rotation and clearly had everything riding on this series emotionally, getting swept like this has to be completely demoralizing. For the first time now, and as usual I really hesitate saying this because it's way too cocky, but I'm really not sure they have it in them to go on the run that everyone thinks they're going to go on. They wiped out Atlanta last weekend to get them close but couldn't build on that momentum. Now, the Mets have their shot at them while Washington goes to Florida to take on the Mickey Mouse Marlins who can be a real pain in the ass. If you didn't feel good about the Mets chances before this week, you have to be feeling supremely confident right now.

Maybe everyone shouldn't have slept on the Mets.

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