(Photo: Wendell Cruz — USA Today Sports)
The Mets needed this.
After a week that featured three losses, lousy hitting and awful relief, the Mets made up for all that stench by sweeping the Philadelphia Phillies in a doubleheader Tuesday at Citi Field. The Mets took a 4-3 Game 1 victory in eight innings, and they took a 4-0 Game 2 victory.
Everything clicked together for one day. This is what Mets owner Steve Cohen, Mets fans and the Mets envisioned when the season started: Clutch hitting and excellent starting pitching.
This good performance improved the Mets record at 4-3, good enough to be tied with the Phillies for first place. It makes a Mets fan forget last week until Wednesday’s game starts.
This brings to Wednesday’s game and Thursday’s game here. As good as the sweep was, it will mean nothing if the Mets don’t take the series and then go on a run here. Anything short of taking the series will be a disappointment.
The Mets need to show they won’t be a middling team all season, which they win some and lose some. They need to take series after series. They must go on winning months. Winning in a divisional play is a must for them to be a playoff team. A run such as winning 10 of 11, 12 of 17 and 20 of 25 would be a nice place to start. The Mets must go on a type of run now that can make last week a distant memory.
A doubleheader sweep should translate to taking three of four against the Phillies, especially with Mets ace Jacob deGrom starting Thursday afternoon in the finale of the series. From there, the Mets should take off.
Here’s why a Mets fan can believe it can happen: Taijuan Walker and Marcus Stroman. Both starters set the tone in the victory with their sterling pitching performances. In Game 1, Walker allowed a run on three hits in 4 ⅓ innings while striking out eight. In Game 2, Stroman applied his sinker well, and he got outs through groundouts, especially getting a couple of double plays. He pitched well enough to throw six shutout innings.
We all know Walker has the talent. His problem has been injuries over the years in what has been an injury-plagued career. There’s a reason he pitched for three different teams prior to being a Met. The Mets took a flier on him with the idea that they could get something out of him. So far so good.
If Walker can be healthy and make 25 starts this season, the Mets would be ecstatic. It would mean they would be in a position to get a playoff spot. His two starts showed he has the stuff of a No. 2 starter.
Same can be said for Stroman. Inconsistency and health plagued him so far. If he can be so good and make 30 starts, the Mets have a shot to make the playoffs. His first two starts should be encouraging, but time will tell if he can put all this together for one season.
The Mets got the much-needed big hits from guys like Brandon Nimmo, Pete Alonso and Jonathan Villar of all people in Game 1, and Nimmo and Villar came through in Game 2.
They are not going to stink with runners in scoring position all season. Their hitters are too good to struggle all season. deGrom offered an interesting take about the hitters maybe not having the timing after the Mets Opening Week against the Nationals was canceled because of several Nationals being diagnosed with coronavirus. Maybe timing is everything for the hitters.
With the bullpen, it’s hope for the best at this point. It’s hard to trust any Mets reliever outside of Miguel Castro and Seth Lugo (when he comes back from his elbow surgery). Trevor May continues to struggle as he showed in Game 1 by giving up an intentional walk, wild pitch and a base hit that gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead in the ninth. Jeurys Familia made it interesting in Game 2 by giving up two singles to Alex Bohm and Didi Gregorius with two outs until he finally retired Jean Segura to end the game.
Yes, the Mets can translate this into something big based on the depth of the rotation. With Carlos Carrasco working his way back to the rotation soon while recovering from a hamstring issue and elbow soreness and Stroman and Walker doing good things every fifth day, the Mets could have a good rotation to complement deGrom that can win games on its own.
The lineup should get better as the months go on.
Maybe it can be an interesting summer from what we saw in this doubleheader sweep.
The sweep makes it encouraging, but the performance and health of certain players can make this into something big.