by Paul West
Seth Lugo is the latest Mets pitcher to come out of relative obscurity to throw an absolutely necessary gem, and the Mets have taken two of three from the Washington Nationals and gained ground on three of the other teams in the NL Wild Card race. For all of his questionable aspects as an in-game tactician, manager Terry Collins has kept his team battling and believing through a stunning list of injuries to key players. And in a development many deemed far-fetched just two weeks ago, the Mets are within a game of the St. Louis Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot. Moreover, they’re only a game and a half behind the San Francisco Giants, whose struggles continue, for the top Wild Card position. Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce, two Mets whose struggles have made them the subject of widespread derision, continue to show signs of turning the corner; both homered in tonight’s win, and both are looking more relaxed at the plate. Wilmer Flores, finally given a chance to play virtually every day, continues to put together good at bats against lefties and righties alike while playing serviceably wherever on the infield he’s positioned. And Jeurys Familia continues a case for himself as the National League’s best ninth-inning option, as he shut down the Mets’ rivals to close out a strong homestand.
The Mets, by virtue of grit and the power of belief, have made their way through a morass of injuries and other misfortunes and stand poised to seize control of their Wild Card destiny. They’ve won seven of their last ten games, and they’ve won four consecutive series for the first time since April. Among all the teams in the National League playoff race, the Mets’ remaining schedule of opponents is projected as the ‘easiest’–but this should not be cause for sudden complacency. Until further notice, the Mets face a game of great enormity every time they take the field. They proved themselves up to the task last year, when their chances were underestimated for different reasons than they are this year. This year’s rise, if completed, would seem even more improbable than the last.
But, indeed, they believe.