The Mets continue to pummel the opposition, inspiring both confidence and expectations
Last Sunday, the Mets departed Citi Field having been swept by the Pittsburgh Pirates, never leading in any one of those three games and being outscored 16-6.
They embarked on a long and pivotal nine-game road trip, raising legitimate questions about their ability to both produce and win on the road thanks to their 21-34 record away from Citi Field.
It’s amazing how a week can change both discussions.
In the first eight games of this road trip, the Mets have hit 20 home runs (2.5 per game), have scored 73 runs (9.1 per game), 62 of their 101 hits have gone for extra-bases, have posted a whopping 1.008 OPS.
The result? A 7-1 road trip, and a lead in the National League East which has grown to 6 1/2 games with 36 games remaining in the regular season.
“In my opinion, there’s not a guy who’s an easy out,” Terry Collins said about his roster. “They can all hit a homer, they can all be dangerous, and it’s nice to be able to have that.”
He didn’t have that until July 24, when the Mets began to change the roster by bringing up Michael Conforto and acquiring both Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe from the Braves. Since that date, a span of 30 games, the Mets have been averaging 6.06 runs per game with 132 extra-base hits, 52 of which have been home runs.
40 of those 52 home runs have come in the month of August. That’s tied for the most home runs in a single month in franchise history. There are still four games left in August to set a new franchise mark.
Michael Cuddyer, who has resurrected his season by posting a 1.006 OPS with two home runs and seven RBI in 13 games in August, believes the deepened roster and added versatility helps alleviate the pressure to perform in specific situations.
“I just think I haven’t been putting pressure on myself to get the job done because I know other people in the lineup will and are,” the veteran said after the Mets mauled the Phillies once again on Wednesday night. “It works out the less pressure you put on yourself, the more success you’re going to have.”
An argument could be made the bulk of the Mets offensive explosion throughout the month of August have come against the second division teams in the league, and on this road trip in particular, it has come in three different hitter-friendly environments. To a large degree, that’s accurate, especially since they couldn’t muster much offense against the Pirates at home two weeks ago, who appear primed for a deep run into October. They’re certainly less likely to pummel the Nationals when they’re in Washington over Labor Day, and should they make the playoffs, they’ll depend more on quality pitching and an ability to score just enough runs to win close games.
But the fact they’re winning – even in the unusual manner they’re doing it – has inspired a new confidence in this team which just didn’t exist before this magical run in the second half.
And that confidence and belief they have the ability to get a lights out performance from any of their starting pitchers plus knowing they can score just enough to win on any given day could be the key for the Mets to make a deep run into October themselves.
“I don’t think it matters where we play. We go out there and expect to win,” Cuddyer said on Wednesday.
Now that they’re beginning to demonstrate they can win on the road, they could truly be the premier team in the National League.