Monday, May 10, 2021

Mets First in NL East!

 I used this headline last July 24, at the start of 2020's shortened season, in a jocular way to note that the Mets' 1-0 opening game victory over their frequent nemeses, the Braves, put them in first place in their division although tied with the Marlins for that distinction. I ended the post with a cautionary "We'll see how this goes." Just a week later I posted with a headline that begins "Mets flounder." This year the Mets again won their opener, but I decided to be more cautious and wait a month or so before trying to assess whether pundits' optimistic pre-season predictions for the Amazins are likely to prove accurate. 

As of now, I'll give a qualified "Yes." A five game winning streak, including two wins in St. Louis over the Cards, who sport the NL's best record now, and a sweep at Citi of the Diamondbacks, a team whose number the Mets seem to have had for some time, have vaulted the team from Queens, spiritual heirs to my first love in baseball, the Brooklyn Dodgers, back into first place, although with a flimsy half game lead over the surprisingly strong Phillies.

As, it seems, always, there's some drama. Starter Jacob deGrom was taken out of yesterday's game complaining of muscle tightness on his right side. Although an MRI showed "no structural damage" he has been put on the ten day injury list out of caution. This season deGrom has an ERA of 0.68 and 65 strikeouts and only seven walks. Nevertheless, his won-lost record is 3-2, largely because of the Mets' anemic hitting -- the team batting average is .233, 15th in the NL, with 101 runs scored, 30th in the league. This seems to be improving, as shortstop Francisco Lindor shows signs of getting over his  batting slump. As for the bizarre incident involving Lindor and second baseman Jeff McNeil in Friday's game with the Diamondbacks, it had no effect on the outcome of that game or the two since, in all of which hits by Lindor and McNeil were important to the Mets' victories.

May 12 update: I'm glad the fans at Citi "showed class" by giving Matt Harvey "the ovation of a returning hero" when he took the mound for the visiting Orioles this afternoon. I'm also glad the Mets went on to win their seventh straight.