McDonald: The Pennant Race Has Arrived

With all the off the field woe the Mets have endured, they still had a game to play today and an important one at that.

With the Nationals in town for a four game series before the All-Star Break, you can successfully say the pennant race has started.

Four games out with four to play this weekend.

Make it or break it for the Amazin’s.

Unlike the 84 games that proceeded tonight’s affair, this one felt like a playoff game with both teams knowing this affair was one that meant something, even with a little less than a half season to go.

And with Wilmer Flores hitting a go ahead home run, you have had to have flashbacks to July 31 of last season.

“The first thing I thought about was that this guy gets huge hits against these guys in big situations,” manager Terry Collins said. “We have some guys swinging the bats great and on nights when you are not using them you can get them to get big hits off the bench and we did that.”

Make no mistake; the Mets are hot right now. Seven wins in their last eight and the lead down to just three games; the Amazin’s have a chance to hit Washington where it hurts this weekend.

Collins knew that and so Bartolo Colon, who didn’t have it tonight, only going 4.2 innings as he let the bullpen take over.

“This is a huge homestand including these four games,” Collins said. “We certainly wanted Bart to go a little farther, but we had to do the matchups the best we can. We went to the bullpen a little earlier than you want and you double switched a little more than you want. With the next three games, we need to do whatever we can to get as close as we can, coming out of the break. We will be rested and we will continue to swing the bats, but it’s a big series for us.”

More importantly, the Mets may not have to wait until the deadline. Reinforcements have come with Jose Reyes, James Loney and Kelly Johnson. They have the pieces in place before the All-Star Break and may need smaller moves like another reliever and possible a starting pitcher, depending in what happens with Matt Harvey.

That’s why this run is so important. A statement against the Cubs, Marlins and Nationals gives rest of the league something to think about going into the break.

And frankly, this is a fun team to watch right now. Citi Field has become a bandbox this year and homers are flying. With Reyes back, there’s a spark at the top. Curtis Granderson is fitting nicely in the No. 2 hole and the lineup that had a lot of easy outs a month ago suddenly looks pretty deep.

If no one else gets hurt, this team can make a run this year. Yes, that’s a pretty big ‘If.’ However, if they can get a No. 5 starters and another lefty and if Michael Conforto makes a nice return to the majors, then this team can be set for October.

But first things first. The Mets have another game tomorrow.

Stephen Strasberg and his 11-0 record against Noah Syndergaard.

Two All-Stars face off.

The pennant race has arrived.

About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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