Familiar Territory

(Neil Miller/Sportsdaywire)

It isn’t time to hit the panic button yet Mets fans.

I am sure many of the faithful in Flushing recall the Amazin’s September swoons in 2007 and 2008.

This team seems different from yesteryear though. However, Jonathon Niese’s brutal five-run third-inning performance Tuesday against the Phillies gave this writer flashbacks to the heartbreaking Willie Randolph- and Jerry Manuel-led collapses.

It wasn’t that long ago that the Mets held three- and four-game cushions at this juncture of the season.

This time, the spread in the National League East is five-and-a-half games with 30 left to play. And lest we forget, a pivotal six games left against the second-place Washington Nationals, three of which will be played over the final weekend of the season at Citi Field in October.

Citi Field and October are two nouns that have yet to mesh, at least in terms of the postseason. Before this year, the only October baseball the Mets had played at Citi were three-game season-ending series against the Astros and Nationals in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

After all, it could just be the same, old Niese. Or perhaps the Coors Field shellacking he took on Aug. 22 has rocked his confidence. Still, over his last 16.1 innings, Niese has allowed 18 earned runs and 23 hits, all while striking out 10…Certainly not a recipe for success in September.

Niese’s struggles also led to Terry Collins’ ability to push every wrong button in the bullpen. Between the ailing Bobby Parnell, Eric O’Flaherty and Carlos Torres, the issues in middle relief for the Mets continue to pile up.

The pressure is starting to build in a month that never seems to end. Can the Mets remain on top is the question?

Stay tuned.

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