Schraier: The Cool Days of August

It is still too early to be thinking about the magic number to clinch the National League East.

But, boy has this New York Mets team been fun to watch since July 31.

In that span, the Metsies have gone from a potential Wild Card team to a divisional contender. This, behind a rejuvenated lineup and a starting rotation that has lived up to its billing since pitchers and catchers reported back in February.

Despite allowing a pair of three-run leads to slip away in St. Pete this past weekend, the Mets have returned to the friendly confines of Citi Field, where they have taken the first two of a four-game series against the fledgling Colorado Rockies.

Behind strong performances from a new-look Jonathon Niese and the Dark Knight, New York has outscored a team they have had a great amount of success against in the Big Apple over the last three seasons by an 8-2 count.

However, a ballpark in Flushing that once intimidated its own residents has lowered its guard.

It simply cannot be understated that the Mets’ success at home has translated to its surge for a divisional pennant in October. After Tuesday night’s 4-0 win over the Rockies, New York improved to a record of 40-18 at Citi Field, the second-best mark at home in the majors behind the St. Louis Cardinals.

It was also the efforts of a couple of unlikely heroes that sealed the Mets’ ninth victory in their last 11 games. In the bottom of the sixth, Ruben Tejada broke a scoreless tie. With third base open, two out and Harvey on deck to bat, Tejada ripped an RBI single to plate Michael Cuddyer from second.

Then, in the eighth, the Mets took advantage of a depleted Colorado bullpen for the second-straight night. Most notably, Boone Logan, all with two outs.

Logan issued a bases-loaded walk to pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson to make it a 2-0 game, and one batter later, Juan Lagares delivered a two-RBI double to left to bust it open, capping a 3-for-5 day for the starting centerfielder.

While a new hero continues to shine for the Mets each night, Terry Collins’ need to keep hitters fresh has caused some speculation of his daily lineup building in this writer’s opinion.

The one knock you can make is having Juan Uribe hit in the clean-up position. Batting .179 since joining the Mets, the veteran slugger put up an 0-for-4, including two pop-ups, both of which came in his first two at-bats with a runner in scoring position.

It very much reminded fans and writer’s alike of when Collins had John Mayberry, Jr. and Eric Campbell hitting in the No. 4 and 5 spots in the lineup only a few weeks ago.

A win is a win though. And that win has the Mets up 2 ½ games on the Nationals with 49 left to play.

Enjoy the ride.

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