Author’s Note: Thanks go to Mr. North Jersey for his graciously using his talents to create the graphic that will introduce this weekly piece.
The Week That Was: The week started out looking very much like more of the same. Tuesday saw a much better start from Jon Niese, but more anemic offense, bad bullpen pitching, four hits and two errors in another anemic loss, 6-1 to the Astros.
Wednesday night was a loss which was one of those “only the Mets” nights. In retrospect, should the season turn out to be a success, this game might be looked back on as a turning point: the true low, from which they immediately rebounded, won four straight, and never looked back. OK, the “never looked back” part is writer’s embellishment at this point, but what the hell!
The Mets rallied back from a 3-0 deficit with big hits from Beltran and Murphy (who had three hits and turned two nice DPs). Dickey did not have his best stuff, but battled, finishing eight after allowing Hunter Pence to hit the go-ahead solo HR. In the bottom of the frame, Pagan was on third and aggressively raced home when a ball rolled away from the catcher—but, alas, not far enough away. He was tagged out. The evening become surreal when Reyes led off the ninth with a single, and when Thole’s weak sacrifice bunt attempt was caught, Jose was doubled off of first. After the game, Dickey appeared distraught, and made the classic comment about the team needing to stop saying they were better than this, as “maybe we’re not.”
The team quickly turned things around the next night, with Capuano throwing an excellent seven innings, and the offense breaking out for nine runs and six extra base hits. Thursday saw another well-pitched game, with number one Mike Pelfrey throwing his first good game of the year, Ike continuing to be The Man, and the team seeing an eighth/ninth inning bullpen combo of Isringhausen and Krod that would have truly been something six or seven years ago—and might yet turn out to be in 2011.
Saturday saw the team jump out early, with another Ike HR, and Izzy and KRod striking out five to close out the last two innings. The team really broke out on Sunday, with eight runs (and seven walks!) and another well-pitched game, this time a sorely-needed one from Niese.
The team went into the day off Monday having won four in a row, with the fans re-energized and the players surely feeling much better about themselves before heading out for a difficult six-game week on the road.
The Return of Jason Bay: Bay came out hitting like he was still in a Boston uniform. Five H, including two 2B and a HR, two BB, and great hustle as he circled the bases on a blown pop-up by Hunter Pence Wednesday. Bay showed power, and his return was certainly a welcome sight, but he also struck out seven times in his first seventeen plate appearances; hopefully this will not continue. Bay’s return vividly illustrated how one player’s presence can cascade through the offense; in addition to the team’s overall performance, Ike and Wright had a great four-game stretch with Bay in the lineup.
The Times They Keep A-Changin’: Alderson continues to give the players reason to stay on their toes and the fans reason to believe he is serious with another personnel move: the demotion of the ineffective Carrasco. Gee will stay on the team, presumably as long as he continues to show poise and results. The reported team consideration of moving Niese to the pen also shows that there will be none of the inertia shown in recent years by previous management; Alderson will not hesitate to make moves, even if it means sending a relatively high-paid veteran like Carrasco down. This should warm the heart of even the most negative of fans; Sandy is indeed not only playing for the future-he clearly wants this team to succeed now as well.
Met Injury News: The return of Chris Young, expected tomorrow in DC, is another welcome sign. Young looked great in his two starts, and his keeping this up will be key to continuing the resurgence.
Would it be a Met week without DL action? Pagan left the game early Wednesday with a muscle issue, and was put on the DL; hence, the Mets managed a whopping five innings with their intended 2011 outfield playing together.
Parnell remains on the DL, but with the way he was pitching, this may have forestalled a trip to Buffalo.
Ronny Paulino is expect to return this week. He has a career .881 OPS against lefty pitchers, and his playing at this level could seriously improve Met backstop production. Thole remains a player with much potential, but he is either in a terrible slump or the league has begun to solve him offensively. Let us hope it is the former, as the offense Thole has often shown before the recent swoon, combined with Paulino in a straight platoon, could be a serious shot in the arm for this team.
The Week to Come – Let’s Be Optimistic, But Cautiously So: Yes, after the 5-13 start, a four-game winning streak sure feels good. But still, the team managed to salvage just the last game of the series with the Astros, then swept a Diamondback team which looks terrible overall; the pitching appeared truly atrocious. The Mets clearly performed better at all aspects of the game over the weekend, but the opposition gets much more difficult this week-first they face the somewhat surprisingly 10-10 Nats, then it is on to Philadelphia, where Blanton, Halladay, and Lee most likely await.
Should the Mets repeat this week’s 4-2 record going into the day off before a very tough nine-games-in-nine-days stretch (SF, LAD, COL) begins, the team will be able to feel great about itself. Let us hope that’s what we are discussing in one week!