Manager Terry Collins says scoreboard watching is not the agenda for his New York Mets. Focus, he said on what is going on the field and win ballgames as the Mets did again Tuesday night at Citi Field with a 7-4 win over the Miami Marlins. Now it is a focus on passing the Cardinals and Pirates for one of the National League wild card spots.
If the Mets manage to get a wildcard spot in the National League and return to the postseason, reacquiring Jose Reyes will be a major reason why they get there. Reyes continued his hot month of August and went 4-5 Tuesday night at Citi Field as the Mets took the second of a four game set.
Ask Reyes, and the veteran knows what is involved here and what it takes. There are no signs of a washed up player and Collins knows what he has. The Mets also are aware that Reyes at the top of their lineup is a catalyst.
Now, he also has Asdrubal Cabrera who is playing hurt and with that focus. Combined in their first four at bats, Reyes and Cabrera went 4-for-4 and helped the Mets overcome an early 2-0 deficit.
“We’re playing good baseball,” said Reyes. “We just need to play consistently through September.”
Three singles, a double and scoring two runs from Reyes were a part of 13 Mets hits that moved them a game ahead of the Marlins in the wildcard race. .
And it was another good start, and from a pitcher who was not in the plans when the season started. Seth Lugo, in his third start tossed 6.0 innings and allowed two runs on five hits to earn his second win.
Yes, the September stretch is a day away. Collins will get some reinforcements for the infirmary that dwells with his Mets team. But they do remain focused, as any team in a pennant race will this time of year.
More importantly Seth Lugo is a focused pitcher. He gave the Mets another quality start as they continue to get Jacob deGrom extra rest and fill in the gaps for an injury ridden pitching staff. Before the game it was announced that Steven Matz would miss his scheduled start Thursday because of his ailing right shoulder.
But the Mets have been getting quality starts from the unknown and remain focused regardless if they are scoreboard watching, or perhaps not as Collins says, Monday night, in the first game of a series that has significant meaning, Rafael Montero tossed five quality innings after being dispatched from Double-A Binghampton as the Mets got the win and moved closer to the Marlins in the standings.
“Not surprised,” manager Terry Collins said about the pitching that has come up aces for the Mets, the latest from Lugo Tuesday night. “Hope he could pound the strike zone and he’s done that,” he said about Lugo a starter who struggled with a high ERA with Las Vegas Triple-A in the Pacific Coast League where hitting is dominant.
Collins said, the Mets are real fortunate to be stocked with pitching. And the outings from Lugo, Montero on Monday night and Robert Gsellman have helped this Mets team stay focused.
Said Lugo about his ability to throw strikes,”Not surprised. I am getting myself more confidence. That’s just baseball.” He pounded the strike zone with purpose and that focus gave his team another huge win.
“I think it helps having a little bit of pressure,” he said. “It’s a little easier when there’s something on the line. Gives you focus.”
It was about this time last year when the Mets were striving and overtaking the Nationals for the divisional title. They were focused then on returning to the postseason after a long gap. Pitching got them there, and the names not associated with their deep and young staff have helped to winning eight of their last ten games.
“With the moves we made last year to get help, we traded a lot of very, very good young pitching away,” Collins said. That included the potential rookie of the year in Phii Humber, a key component that went to the Tigers in the trade for Yoenis Cespedes at the trading deadline last year.
But they do watch the scoreboard, and at the same time going about their business. It is a part of being in a pennant race and with the injured the unexpected have stepped up to the plate.
There was the unexpected two home runs from Curtis Granderson, and off the bench. The strikeout and wild pitch that saw Alejandro De Aza run to first and get that free base, that was was focus on the field.
“It’s tough to pinch hit in any situation,” Granderson said, “Not an easy task by any means.”
And With two more games against the Marlins, the Mets have at least captured a split in this important series that has implications on their wild card chances,
But they need to remain focused because Neil Walker has a recurring back issue and there is no word about his day-to-day status which makes one wonder where that leaves the Mets. And Cabrera, with a two-run homer that tied the game in the first inning, knows it is day-to day and winning games.
But, he is banged up and Collins is being cautious about putting Cabrera on the field. Yes, the Mets are staying focused even without their lefthander Matz who will miss another start this weekend against the Nationals.
Lugo on Tuesday night was focused and the Mets can scoreboard watch. There is nothing wrong with looking at the board when you are in a pennant race. That is normal this time of year.
And as long as the Mets keep winning, the focus will shift to what they are doing on the field down the stretch.
Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso