PHILADELPHIA – It’s Bruce time and it has come at a perfect time.
Jay Bruce’s resurgence over the past week has helped the Mets propel themselves to the door of the playoffs. With tonight’s 5-1 win over the Phillies, the Amazin’s are now assured of at least a tie for the National League Wild Card and will be playing baseball somewhere next week.
Work still needs to be done, though, the Mets still have two games to play and control their own destiny. Win two and you have the top spot in the Wild Card, even if the Cardinals and Giants sweep their respective series.
“This is step one of a bigger accomplishment,” said manager Terry Collins. “We are sure very pleased that we get to play past Sunday, but we want to take care of business tomorrow and solidify where we need to be.”
So the Mets are not looking ahead. They have their eye on the ball, as well they should, but that doesn’t mean prognosticating can’t be done by the rest of us.
Let’s say the Mets win the top spot in the Wild Card and are playing at Citi Field on Wednesday. Well, that’s great, but they will need someone to lead the charge. Last season, Yoenis Cespedes took care of the regular season, while Daniel Murphy was the star in October.
If the Mets want to make any kind of noise, they will need someone to have their own “Murphtober” come next week. The usual suspects of Cespedes, Asdrubal Cabrera and Curtis Granderson are always good choices and Lucas Duda always has a chance to wreck a game. But the way he’s hitting, Jay can make this year a “Brucetober.”
Bruce has homered in the last three games and he’s hitting .500 over the past six games with four homers and eight RBI. In the No. 5 slot behind Granderson, he seems to have found a home.
“I’m seeing pitches I can take,” the slugger said. “That’s the bottom line to my success.”
The Mets thought they acquired an All-Star back at the deadline. Bruce was supposed to come here and provide protection for Cespedes, while lengthening the Mets line-up. But up until the past week, the former Red was a failure in New York.
The way Cespedes was the symbol of the 2015 Mets success, Bruce was unfairly labeled as this year’s failure. Collins thought he lost his right fielder when he pinch hit for him a week and a half ago and sat down with the slugger a number of times to make sure his head is on straight.
“I trust my players and I had a lot of conversations with Jay Bruce,” Collins said. “One of the things he said early was that he’s always played through things. He understands this is a different dynamic than in Cincinnati. When I called him in, he nodded his head and said ‘Yeah, I probably do right now.’”
Earlier in the season, Collins did that with Neil Walker when the second baseman was slumping and it worked. Right now, a sabbatical for a few days is worked wonders for Bruce.
And now, the Mets are on the door to greatness. You got to feel pretty good about the Mets chances. The Phillies will have a bullpen game tomorrow ready to come in with a tank of gas and a book of matches.
Facing that, you have a hot Jay Bruce.
Starting next week it’s a whole new ballgame. The Mets will get their one game Wild Card and if they win they will have a date with the Cubs. A rematch of last season’s playoffs, someone will have to star if they Mets plan on advancing ultimately to the World Series.
Can this be a Brucetober?
No one knows, but he sure is starting to make his case.