This is the series at Citi Field for the Mets with the Chicago Cubs and perhaps a defining one that could determine if there will be meaningful games being played as the calendar gets close to September. Tuesday night the Chicago Cubs got the first draw that have those implications for the second NL Wild card.
A 5-2 loss now puts more pressure on the Mets for the next two.
But this team has been tested and knows something about bouncing back, The Mets took care of business that put them in the position of playing meaningful baseball in late August. They got timely hits, starting pitching went deep, and they got back in contention. But if they lose this series, or get swept a second time on this homestand, those wild card aspirations and a postseason won’t occur.
Tuesday night the Mets did not get that timely hit. And Marcus Stroman got his first loss as a Met. He gave up the home run balls to Addison Russell and Javier Baez.
“I need to do a better job,” he said.
Pete Alonso hit home run 42 in the fourth inning, the historic and franchise record that earned him a curtain call. Stroman needed to do a better job and can consider allowing multiple home runs for the second time in his last three starts not being the quality start needed in a chase for the wild card.
These are not the same Mets that came out of the All-Star break and compiled the best second half winning percentage in the majors. They have scored 12 runs in their last six games.
According to a positive Mets clubhouse and manager Mickey Callaway, this will change and that can be expected with all the energy that has been consumed over the last month.
“Just not getting the timely hit that gets us rolling,” Calalway said. “It will change.”
And it better change soon or this marvelous comeback from the dead will not last much longer.
The Mets have lost four straight games at Citi Field for the first time this season and 37-25 has spoke for the success. And a good many of their remaining 32 games are at Citi Field. But if they lose this series to the Cubs, the wild card is more difficult to achieve and it would take at least 20 more wins to get there.
So they need to get their bats going and they have Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom the next two nights which gives them a chance as both have thrown quality starts in the month of August,
“We know we can play better,” Pete Alonso said. “We bonded. From where we were. The jobs not done yet.”
Alonso keeps getting the job done. One of four hits off Yu Darvish, who pitched his best game in a year, was historic. Number 42 passed Carlos Beltran and Todd Hundley for the club franchise record. He and Mark McQuire are the only players in major league history with 42 home runs through 130 career games.
To some, the skeptics, the Mets are now showing that this second half turnaround was a tease. They swept the Indians at Citi Field. They were swept by the division leading Braves this past weekend. Two more remain with the Cubs who now hold a three-game advantage over the Mets in the wild card.
Then there are the Phillies, Brewers, all bunched with them. The Diamondbacks who come to Citi Field on the next homestand are a game behind the Mets.
The Nationals, they first test that was a success and the Mets next week go there for three. First is a visit to the Phillies for three. The Mets have the tough schedule and the others in the hunt have to beat on each other.
But when a lineup stops hitting, and does not get the timely hit, it is time to make adjustments. J.D, Davis with a ninth inning two-out home run off Brandon Kintzler, after striking out twice against Darvish, said adjustments will be made.
He talked to hitting coach Chili Davis. In between innings they went to the video room as most of the Mets will do.
“We’re trying to get something going,” he said.
Perhaps the 14-inning loss to the Braves last week took a toll. Davis said that hitting is contagious, a known fact. But he saw something going wrong up and down the lineup in that final game with the Indians.
Either way you look at it, and as good as Darvish was, 10 ground balls went for outs, these are not the Mets that were hitting and scoring bunches the past month.
Yes, these next two games with the Cubs will dictate a lot where this is going. Time for adjusting begins Wednesday night at Citi Field.