There could be signs of life in Queens after all.
As the month of July began it looked as though New York Mets fans were in store for yet another baseball season ending midway though the summer. The team struggled the first three months of the season and hit another low point on the second day of this month when their record dropped to 37-48.
The Mets looked like a team whose season was dead in the water, something those who follow the orange and blue have unfortunately gotten used to. But then something unexpected happened in the form of a Mets run and the tides could be turning at Citi Field.
New York came home for a ten-game home stand to close out the first half of the season and did so impressively, winning eight. Since Independence Day this has looked like an entirely different club than it had previously, surely putting a smile on Terry Collins’ face in the process. It all seemed to come together for the Mets at once: quality starting and relief pitching, hitting from top to bottom and clutch hitting as well.
The key on offense for the Mets has been their big boppers. All-Star Daniel Murphy has hit consistently all season but it’s David Wright, Lucas Duda and Curtis Granderson that need to be hitting also for this team to prosper. The three of them have driven in 23 runs by themselves in July and led the way for the Mets bats. Wright and Duda are now formidable in the meat of the order while Granderson has upped his production since moving to the leadoff spot. It’s been a team effort for the Mets who as a team have driven in more runs than any other National league club in July (60) and are second in the league in July batting average (.266).
One of the reasons to continue watching this team is the young starting pitching. After hard-luck losses to begin his major league career, Jacob deGrom is proving his worth and then some. The rookie right hander is boasting a 3.18 ERA and has gone from possible trade bait to a must-keep arm for the Mets in the minds of onlookers. Zack Wheeler is also hitting his stride the way we expected him to and with Dillon Gee back and Jon Niese on the way, it feels like the Mets will be in position to win games as they were on this past home stand—so long as they can keep providing run support.
Also, playing at home has been a bug-a-boo for the Mets since Citi Field opened in 2009. They haven’t finished a season with a winning record in their current stadium and have a 215-235 record overall in their second home (yes, we all miss Shea). The good news is this team is starting to break that mold, now over .500 at home (25-23) after a three-game sweep to end the first half. Perhaps the Mets are finally getting the ballpark out of their head where it’s been causing problems for five seasons. By now it’s time to make Citi Field a home field advantage, something it certainly hasn’t been.
We don’t know if the Mets can keep this trend going when play resumes and even if they do, they may not sustain it and it may not matter. Even with the 8-2 run they’re 45-50; five games under .500 and seven games back of both the NL East and the wild card.
Even still, the fight this team showed the last ten days before the break is of importance and worth noting. It could be the foundation for this team staying within reasonable striking distance of the postseason, even if they’re ultimately unable to make a run. If we’re able to watch a competitive team through August and even into September, it bodes well for the future and points Collins’ team in the direction it wants to go.
The fans deserve to see meaningful baseball games at least throughout the entire summer and that isn’t something the Mets faithful have been used to in recent years. That’s really the most exciting part of the hot streak heading into the All-Star break: seeing this team play baseball that matters for as long as possible.
The second half will be a test from the start for the Mets as they begin with a ten-game road trip but they have some momentum heading into it and hopefully the good vibes carry over and serve as a positive preview to what the future holds. As much as anything else, the second half of 2014 is an opportunity to prove that the Mets aren’t as far behind the quality teams of the NL as people think.