Terry Collins knows his New York Mets are capable of hitting and as he says, “Look at the back of their baseball cards.” For the second straight night at Citi Field his team hit the home run ball and the hitting was contagious.
The energy, so says the manager has returned. It started a week ago in San Francisco with two wins and continued with the home run ball the last two nights against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Before you can say wait, these are the Phillies who handled the Mets with ease in April, remember at this point last season the offensive surge came a little earlier in August. Then, the cast of characters were a little different with Daniel Murphy a key component of the surge that went from the worst offense in baseball to the best.
And, this columnist may still be under the belief that the Mets won’t pull it off and become one of the wild card teams in the National League. But this last week, and these last two games with the Phillies suddenly make one to believe the Mets will continue the surge and make a run for it.
Saturday night, banging out 13- hits and hitting four more home runs, in winning the second of three games against the Philadelphia Phillies, 12-1, has you believing. So were three more hits at the top from Jose Reyes and the third home run in two games from Asdrubal Cabrera, after his multi-home run game the night before.
Cabrera in the two hole has worked wonders for Terry Collins. Reyes is healthy and playing the game like a 23-year old, and that one-two in the order has been a good catalyst.
There was an October feel on the field these past two games at Citi Field, and contingent on the surge continuing, the Mets could play one or more significant games in seven weeks.
New York has won six of their last seven games and stayed within 2-½ games of the second wild card postseason spot in the National League.
“Nature of the game,” Collins said about his team that got solo home runs from Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker, a three-run shot from Yoenis Cespedes, and the fifth career grand slam from Kelly Johnson off the bench that put the icing on the cement.
“The confidence is back,” Collins said. “Look like we’re a completely different team.” And right now the hitting and home run ball resembles a similar trait of a year ago when the Mets went on a second half run.
Of course that run also clinched their first NL East divisional title since 2006 and the Mets went on to the World Series and lost in five games to thee Kansas City Royals.
It was Cespedes who paved the way the last six weeks of the season, and his home run in the sixth inning off Jeremy Hellickson on a 3-2 pitch, his 26th of the season, went deep to left to give the Mets a 5-1 lead.
It was a home run so reminiscent of the many Cespedes hit last August and September during the surge to October.
“When Cespedes is healthy, he is going to drive in runs,” Collins said. Jay Bruce, the Mets recent acquistion at the trading deadline was not in the lineup and some of his struggles at the plate, batting .161 in 81 at bats since coming to New York prompted the move to sit him.
Collins expects Bruce to get another day of rest for the finale of the series with Philadelphia Sunday afternoon. And it is important to get Bruce going, as the Miami Marlins a game ahead of the Mets in the wild card race come visit Citi Field for a four-game series beginning Monday night.
Cespedes, through an interpreter said about the similarities of last season, and a renewed energy of the Mets that started last week:
“I think the energy we have right now is taking us back to last season. The desire, the motivation the not giving up to the last out.”
Then there is Cabrera. His 16th home run in the third inning gave the Mets the lead, this after the Phillies scored their lone run in the third inning on a solo home run off the bat of Freddy Galvis. He tied for the second most home runs in his career, to the 25 he hit in 2011.
Right now, he is resembling Murphy and the Mets will take it.
“The confidence at the plate,” Cabrera said. For a moment, that was Daniel Murphy talking again in the Mets clubhouse. His surge last year also had to do with that confidence that came at the right time.
Neil Walker with his 23rd home run in the eighth inning also matched his career high, more importantly the home run happy Mets have one in 12 of their last 13 games and have scored 20 runs in two games.
Not possible for these Mets at one point last year to score runs in bunches, and it was not possible a little over a week ago.
Not to be bypassed is the pitching of righthander Noah Syndergaard, 12-7, who tossed 7.0 innings and allowed one run earned on two hits. His 12th win tied him for the team lead with Bartolo Colon who got the win Friday night in the opening game of the three-game series.
In striking out seven and walking two, Syndergaard improved to 3-0 in his last three starts with a 1.31 ERA and has given up three hits in his last 15 innings pitched dating back to the Mets 2-0 win at the Giants last week.
“Getting back to feeling the delivery again,” Syndergaard said about his recent success. “Not thinking too far into the game,” he said. And an old friend, righthander Rafael Montero comes up from Double-A Binghamton to try and revive his big league career. He faces the Marlins’ best in Jose Fernandez Monday night, but Montero could make an impact if the surge in runs continues.
But if the Mets get the sweep Sunday afternoon, then they can start to think ahead about definitely being in this wild card chase to the end. And who have have thought that just a week ago?
Yes this is very reminiscent to last season and if this surge continues, well as they say in boxing, it will be one heck of a fight.