Home is Where the Start Is: Electric Homestand Gives Mets Chance to Get Back on Track

nysportsday wire

Baseball is a “slow moving” game where things happen quickly.

It was not even a week ago when the Mets were wallowing in a stretch where they dropped 16 of 22 games and left them two games under .500 following an 8-5 loss to the high flying Tampa Bay Rays.

An injection of young players, a huge Pete Alonso home run and a five game winning streak later, the Mets are feeling a lot better about themselves and looking more like the team they expected to be in this 2023 season.

There is an ol’ saying, “You’re not as good as you look when you’re winning but you’re not as bad as you look when you’re losing.” The Mets could apply that adage to their first six weeks of the season because they weren’t as bad as they were playing, but they did need an injection to the roster. That shot in the arm was provided by the additions of Brett Baty and Francisco Alvarez, who have played their way into the starting lineup and Mark Vientos, who has shown signs of doing the same.

Alonso’s home run last Wednesday night appered to get the resurgence going. Down to their final out against the Rays and on the verge of falling a season low four games under .500 with two more to play against the hottest team in baseball, Alonso woke up the Mets with a memorable blast that will become even more memorable if they go on to do some special things this season.

If you can hover around .500 when you’re not playing good baseball for however long that stretch is, a week, a month, two weeks, whatever it is and you get hot and you play good baseball and you go a bunch of games over .500,” Justin Verlander said after his eight inning gem Sunday night.

Let’s examine the chain of events that took place in the sorely needed 5-1 home stand, where they won all five games by one run.

Verlander was the loser in the Mets’ last loss last Tuesday night, but he knows his body and he felt his mechanics were a bit off. A good sign because it wasn’t something physical. Corrections were made, and the three time Cy Young Award winner throws eight strong innings to allow the offense to eventually win the final game.

Alonso’s home run won just one game but it also restored the team’s confidence that they were a better team than their record showed. It also provided a little bit of pressure in that the Mets had to take this opportunity and build on it in the series finale. If they did not follow up this uplifting win, then it could’ve already become just a minor highlight.

Less than 24 hours later, you could feel the karma changing as Tommy Pham’s infield hit provided the go ahead run in a 3-2 win, as the Mets won their first series in a month.

Friday night, the Mets were down to their final out for the second time in three games, but this time, the youngsters provided the blueprint for another spectacular come from behind win.

Alonso provided another highlight when he hit a game tying, grand slam home run in the seventh, but, just like two days previous, the Mets were trailing by two in their last at bat in the tenth inning.

Mark Vientos’ RBI single scored Baty, who was the automatic runner on second base to make it a one run game. Eduardo Escobar pinch ran for Vientos and stole second.

With two out against Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase, Alvarez was down in the count 0-2 but he delivered a clutch, RBI single to score Escobar with the tying run and took second on the throw home, but the Mets were not done yet.

Brandon Nimmo reached on an infield single as Alvarez took third. Francisco Lindor did not waste any time as he drove a single past into right field to score Alvarez with the game winning run.

The rainout on Saturday created a split doubleheader and Max Scherzer got things going Sunday with a solid outing, despite dealing with a split callus on his thumb that limited the use of his fastball and made him go with his secondary stuff.

Scherzer relied on his experience and his guile to toss six scoreless innings and provide some encouragement that he can be part of a formidable 1-2 punch atop the rotation.

Manager Buck Showalter has not allowed the negativity to overwhelm the club. He knows it’s a long season and there’s still plenty of baseball yet to be played.

Verlander is new to the team but he could see how his teammates have reacted to the adversity. “They’ve stayed extremely positive. There’s been a lot of positive talk in the locker room, constantly,” Verlander said. “It’s difficult, it always is when things aren’t going well but gotta give a ton of praise to the guys in this locker room and how they’ve just reminded everybody stay positive and keep pushing.”

The Mets open a road trip in Chicago tomorrow night against the Cubs for the first of three and then a three game weekend series in Colorado. Six games against teams they should beat. Judging by previous series against “teams they should beat,” (Detroit, Colorado, Washington, and Cincinnati) the Mets did not take advantage and struggled to put themselves in the hole that they are in the process of climbing out of.

Lindor feels they won’t let an opportunity to pad their record slip by because they’ll come home to play the Phillies and Blue Jays on the next homestand. “We are on a high right now,” Lindor said. “We gotta continue to stay in the high, celebrate our success and then turn the page, focus on the Cubs.”

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