A week away from Citi Field could be just what the lethargic Mets need
Once upon a time, a long homestand would be just what the Mets needed.
For road trips were usually served as water for whatever fire they had through the first 3 1/2 months of the season.
And now, the tables have turned.
Suddenly, the Mets have become a ferocious force away from Citi Field, an unstoppable team capable of winning with pitching, defense, and of course a dynamic offense which has made even the largest road venues look small for the last six weeks.
At home, however, it’s another story.
The Mets endured a 3-6 homestand against the lowly Marlins and Braves and of course the Yankees. They had promising starts in each of those series, winning the first game of each, but they followed with two consecutive losses to each team.
They scored a total of 23 runs on the homestand, and went 11-for-68 in the nine games with runners in scoring position.
They were outscored 47-23 in their own ballpark over the last nine days as well.
Fortunately for the Mets, the Nationals did not take advantage of their two consecutive losses to Atlanta, as they also fell twice to the Orioles to lower the Mets magic number (and their own tragic number) to five.
But the Nationals did gain three games on the Mets over the last nine days. While that seems modest given the way the Mets played over the last week, it should serve as a warning that the race is not over.
The Mets have ten games left, the Nationals 11.
But if the Mets continue to stumble, six can become three awful quickly, and what seemed like a series which would mean nothing could have significance if they continue to go stale.
“Ultimately, we’d like to play better and have that magic number shrink because we’re winning,” David Wright said after their latest loss.
In other words, the Mets are not taking care of their own business. Rather, the Orioles are doing it for them. That is usually not the optimal way to win the division.
“We need to do a better job offensively of tacking on runs — we had chances and we let them off the hook,’’ Wright explained about their most recent fumble on Tuesday.
Just ask the 2007 and 2008 Mets about that, when they controlled their own destiny but couldn’t get out of their own way in the end only to see the Phillies roll right past them to the finish line.
The main concern for the Mets over the last week – above anything else – is they looked lethargic and lacked energy.
Sure, Yoenis Cespedes was bound to hit a snag after his legendary run on the last road trip (he went 6-for-33 with ten strikeouts in the nine-game homestand). And the Mets were certainly going to regress after their eight-game winning streak as a team.
But they almost looked like they were just trying to knock games off the schedule with their inability to work counts, get on base, and attack hittable pitches inside the strike zone.
Were they going through the motions? Probably not consciously. And certainly Wright has said many times there is no level of comfort to be had until they have been assured mathematically they will be in the postseason.
Perhaps it was good for the Mets to get this out of their system now, as opposed to having a bad week when the bonus round begins. Certainly, Wright is hopeful better times return on Thursday night in Cincinnati.
“It was a poor homestand, but we have some of those young horses going in Cincinnati, so maybe we can go win a series and get that much closer,’’ Wright said.
Given their 6-12 record at home since August 14, perhaps getting away for a week is just what the club needs.
Or so they hope.