In Change of Pace, Mets Win

Coming into today’s game against the Brewers, the Mets had lost more catchers (Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki) than they had games on the season.  One of the reasons why that was the case was this Mets team has gotten contributions from almost everyone on the team and each night presents a new hero.

Early on, that hero was Todd Frazier. Up until today, he had been homerless in a Mets uniform.  That changed rather quickly when he hit a homer off Brewers starter Zach Davies to give the Mets a 2-0 lead.

The Mets first run came in the first when Yoenis Cespedes followed an Asdrubal Cabrera one out double in the first inning.

After cruising through the first three innings where just about Lorenzo Cain being the only Brewer to challenge him in any way, Steven Matz would have a tough fourth inning allowing a double to Jesus Aguilar and a homer to Hernan Perez in consecutive at-bats tying the game at 2-2.

Of course, much in the same way the Mets have done all season, they immediately responded.  This time the response came in the form of Frazier hitting his second home run of the day.  That gave the Mets a 3-2 lead which would expand in the fifth inning.

The inning began with Michael Conforto drawing a lead-off walk against Davies and a Cabrera single.  After Davies struck out Cespedes, Craig Counsell went to the lefty Dan Jennings to face Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez.

The move was completely ineffective as Bruce hit an RBI double to score Conforto, and Gonzalez brought Cabrera home with a sacrifice fly.  Apparently not having done enough damage to the Brewers’ chances of winning, Jennings threw a wild pitch allowing Bruce to score from third giving the Mets a 6-2 lead.

With the Mets having a lead and winning streak like this, it appeared the Brewers were going to have to be unconventional to try to beat the Mets.  In retrospect, they probably want to take back challenging Cespedes in the field:

Hyperbole aside, with Matz cruising and the way the Mets bullpen has been pitching of late, this game seemed like a lock for the Mets.  As we would soon see in the sixth inning, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

The inning started when Bruce dropped a Domingo Santana fly ball.  The Brewers immediately capitalized with a Ryan Braun two run homer to pull them within 6-4.

After striking out Travis Shaw, the book on Matz was done.  He would be in line for the win after striking out five allowing four runs (three earned) on three hits and two walks in 5.1 innings.  With Seth Lugo coming in, it seemed like this game was a lock.  Instead, the Mets would find themselves hanging on to try to capture the victory.

Lugo was immediately met with back-t0-back singles by Aguilar and Perez.  Lugo would get out of the inning after inducing Orlando Arcia to ground into the 5-4-3 inning ending double play.

Lugo would be bailed out a bit again in the seventh.  After Cain reached on a single, he thought he would challenge Cespedes on a Santana single.  Cespedes nailed the speedy Cain to help snuff out that rally.

Even with Lugo not being himself, Mickey Callaway sent him back out for the eighth.  Finally, the Mets got burned as Shaw hit a solo homer to pull the Brewers within one run.  After an Aguilar single, Callaway was not about to let this one get away.

Callaway pulled out all the stops to make sure this one didn’t get away.  First, it was AJ Ramos to get Perez to fly out.  Then it was Jerry Blevins to face Eric Sogard.  After Sogard singled, Robert Gsellman came on to get Jett Bandy to get out of the inning.

The only thing left was for Jeurys Familia to come on in the ninth and get his Major League leading seventh save of the season.  Familia did that with a rare and much needed 1-2-3 inning to get the Mets to 11-1.

So far, the Mets have won games a number of ways during this nine game winning streak.  The handing on for dear life win we saw tonight was a different one than the other wins we have seen the Mets amass this season.  It’s just more evidence that no matter what happens this team will find a way to win.

Game Notes: Since joining the majors in 2012, Cespedes has a MLB leading 65 outfield assists.  Mets became the first New York team to start the season 11-1 since the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers.  Before the game, Jacob Rhame was sent down to Triple-A, and d’Arnaud, who elected to have Tommy John surgery, was put on the 60 day disabled list.  Brandon Nimmo and Jose Lobaton were called up in their stead.  Lobaton tripled in his first at-bat as a Met.

Trivia Friday – Mets Starters Before The Five Aces Pitched Together

Thursday, April 11th will forever be a landmark date in Mets history, and it is not just because Mickey Callaway‘s Mets started the year with a franchise best 10-1 record or because the Mets swept their first two road series for the first time in their histry. No, it is because the Mets Five Aces, Flamethrower Five, or whatever you want to call them finally pitched one time through the rotation.

There were many stops and starts since 2015, but it finally happened.  Overall, there have been 18 Mets pitchers who have made a start for the Mets (will be 19 when Jason Vargas comes off the Disabled List) since the start of the 2015 season.  This includes the Five Aces.  Can you name all 18 pitchers?  Good luck!

Bartolo Colon Jacob deGrom Matt Harvey Noah Syndergaard Zack Wheeler Steven Matz Seth Lugo Robert Gsellman Jon Niese Dillon Gee Rafael Montero Chris Flexen Sean Gilmartin Logan Verrett Gabriel Ynoa Tommy Milone Tyler Pill Adam Wilk

Nationals Losing Presents Mets With Opportunity

Look, it is only April, and Bryce Harper has been an absolute monster this season, but with the Washington Nationals losing 5-1 to the Colorado Rockies today, they are now a game under .500 at 6-7, which is something they last did in 2015.

We can pinpoint various excuses why this has happened.  Daniel Murphy has started the year on the disabled list, and Adam Eaton, who had a great start to the season, also landed on the disabled list.

They also ran into a buzz-saw with the Mets pulling out all the stops to sweep them at home, and their loss today was against a Rockies team who was in the postseason last year.

Bring up all the caveats you want, they still have had six games against the Braves and three against the Reds.  With those teams, they had enough to build a real cushion because that’s what good teams do – they beat up on the lesser teams.  Instead, they split the two series they have played against the Braves.

That right there is why the Nationals are under .500.  Depending on how this series goes against the Rockies, their set in Flushing, and then a West Coast trip facing off against the Dodgers and Giants before coming home to face the Diamondbacks, this Nationals team MAY be in a little trouble.  They COULD be in a lot of trouble.

The Nationals don’t have Dusty Baker as the manager anymore.  Yes, Dusty had his faults.  However, he knew how to navigate his team through this.  Remember, the Nationals fell apart in 2015 under the weak leadership of Matt Williams, and Dusty came in the following year and rescued that team.  We don’t know if Dave Martinez has that in him to get the Nationals to turn things around against what is going to be a tough early season schedule.

If the Nationals cannot figure things out, they are going to dig themselves an early season hole, which may be too deep to climb, at least as the NL East is concerned.

Overall, the Nationals are vulnerable right now.  Perhaps, they are more vulnerable than anyone could have predicted heading into this season.

Ultimately, this means the Mets have a chance right now to put some real distance between themselves and the Nationals.  If they put up enough distance, the Nationals may be fighting for one of the two Wild Cards and not for the division.

As the old adage goes, you cannot win the division in April, but you sure can lose it.  If the Mets do their job, they can help ensure the Nationals will lose the division in April.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: KEITH HAS A TWITTER ACCOUNT!

One of the things that has made the GKR era of Mets broadcasts truly enjoyable is what Keith Hernandez has brought to the table.  His sheer honesty, and his ability to make the occasional gauche comment makes even blowout Mets losses worth watching.  Really, Mets fans cannot get enough of Keith Hernandez.

And in many ways, we want to see and hear what he is like when the cameras aren’t on.  We did get a small glimpse of that the day SNY came back on the air earlier than the booth expected, and we all reveled in Keith’s comment that National’s starter Tanner Roark had been “getting his tits lit.” That and other Keith Hernandez moments made him the Mets personality most fans wanted to get a twitter account.

Well, it has finally happened to the great joy of Mets fans everywhere. In this week’s version of the Mets Blogger Roundtable, we react to Keith’s Twitter account:

Michael Baron (MLB)

Obviously, for us its very entertaining and its a great way for us to engage with someone we all admire. But for him, its an excellent opportunity for him to enhance his own personal and professional brand, which is both colorful and eccentric and allows us to see a different angle of Keith many don’€™t know and don’€™t get to see.

Roger Cormier (Good Fundies)

I have yet to feel “excitement.” Keith even tagged me in a response to someone else, yet all I feel is impending doom (more so than usual). My podcast partner perfectly described this situation as all too similar to the once beloved Milkshake Duck’s. Keith has already mistakenly tweeted out his phone number, before somewhat adorably thanking the first person to point this out and asking how to delete the picture. He has also yet to change the lowercase ‘k’ to an uppercase ‘k’ for his first name in his twitter bio. Even with 280 characters, nuanced thoughts can be expressed very poorly and problematically by the savviest of internet folk, so Keith tweeting something considered to be of poor taste is pretty much inevitable. But for now, yes, he’s showing *clears throat* good twitter fundamentals.

Michael Ganci (Daily Stache)

Having Keith officially join Twitter is akin to walking down the steps and seeing the presents on Christmas morning. You can see from his brief experience, his account oozes with his personality, and I for one, have set mobile alerts for when he Tweets. Why is he simply the most entertaining guy on Twitter? Simple. He’s Keith Hernandez.

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

I don’t get too excited about celebrity Twitter accounts, but he seems to be actively using it himself, so that’s pretty cool.

Joe Marcic (Loud Egg)

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

It feels as if a Rubicon has been crossed. All those fleeting thoughts of “what would Keith Hernandez be like on Twitter?” have come to “oh, so that’s how it is.” He’s Keith Hernandez.

A part of me was hoping he’d stay Tweetless, as if to maintain the mystique. I felt that way about R.A. Dickey, too, but R.A. was engaging and complex in any medium. Same for Keith.

I wonder if early in a previous century there was this much speculation over how so-and-so would come across over the phone. One more device by which to communicate is what it boils down to.

James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)

By far the best part of having Keith on twitter will be getting more of Keith, plain and simple. Keith already doesn’€™t work every game, and it’s noticeable when he’€™s not there.  Gary and Ron are just a bit too grounded and serious when there’€™s no Mex between them. Even when Keith isn’€™t working games now, we’ll be able to get inside his head, and, of course, it’s rightfully easy to read his tweets in your head in a perfect Keith tone. Just because he’€™s not actually saying the words out loud doesn’€™t mean you can’€™t hear Keith’€™s implicit superiority to the guys on the field today, or the strangely emphasized words (Brou-HA-haa). Having Keith on twitter is our chance to hear from Keith far more often. And I don’t think there’€™s any need to be more specific: Keith on twitter means more Keith, and that’€™s something that all Mets fans should cherish.

Mets Daddy

What fascinates me with Keith’s Twitter account, and maybe it shouldn’t, is how right from jump street, he has already mastered how a celebrity should use a Twitter account.  He provides the voyeurism aspect like his tweeting out pictures of him having dinner with his daughter and her friend.

He gives us a sense that he’s just like us in how he tweets out silly picture of himself (his profile picture is him wearing a mustachioed poop emoji), he uses the occasional toon response in a tweet, or how he adores his now famous cat Hadji.

He also replies to Mets fans just enough to keep them hanging on his every word, and he is not afraid to call someone out for being an idiot.

And like with his Zack Wheeler comments, we get to see Keith not just as contemplative and not reactionary (as comes with the job) when something happens during a Mets game.  More to the point, it shows just how closely Keith does pay attention to the team even when he is not actually working the game.

Lastly, Keith has mastered the job of advertising the Keith Hernandez Shop and his upcoming book, which may have been impetus for firing up the Twitter account all along.

On the other hand, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by this.  During the telecasts, Keith has shown himself to be far more than comic relief.  He’s an intelligent and pensive man, who in many ways, is a modern Renaissance man.  Keith was a great baseball player, has had great cameos (everyone overlooks his Mr. Baseball cameo), and he has been great in both the booth and the studio.  Personally, I’m looking to see what a man with varied interests like Keith Hernandez has tweets during the offseason.

While Keith has only recently been on twitter this group of Mets bloggers have long had twitter accounts which we all use to promote our own writings and thoughts about the Mets.  While you are checking in on Keith’s tweets and the things he is selling, I encourage you to check in on the excellent things this group of writers is writing about this amazingly 10-1 Mets team.

Can’t No-Hit Or Beat The Mets

Well, isn’t this just the Mets luck?  On a day when Mets fans and the entire organization all were celebrating the Five Aces finally making one turn through the rotation, pitching would be the story of the game.  The story wasn’t Zack Wheeler, who had the best start by a Mets pitcher this season.  No, initially the story would be Marlins rookie Jarlin Garcia would no-hit the Mets through the first six innings of the game.

In his Major League debut, Garcia stared down the entire Mets lineup, and he didn’t allow anything except two ill-timed sixth inning walks and Todd Frazier reaching on an error.  Even the walks didn’t hurt him as Jay Bruce would get thrown out trying to steal third.

Naturally, when you have a no-hitter going, you know you are out-pitching the opposing pitcher.  What was surprising was it was not by much.

After making one start in Triple-A to hone his mechanics, Wheeler was great tonight.  He would become the first Mets pitcher to pitch into the seventh inning.  The knock on Wheeler was always his walking too many people and not being able to put batters away.  Tonight, he struck out seven while only walking one.

While Garcia allowed no hits, Wheeler would allow just two.  Unfortuantely, one of those was a Miguel Rojas home run.

With the Mets getting no-hit until Frazier had a single off of Marlins reliever Drew Steckenrider, you would think the Mets lost this game.  Yeah, that wasn’t happening to the 9-1 Mets.

Before the game, it was announced Travis d’Arnaud needed to go on the disabled list with a torn UCL.  Naturally, this meant Kevin Plawecki would get plunked on his catching hand by a 100 MPH from Marlins reliever Tayron Guerrero.

Plawecki stayed in the game, and Michael Conforto, who did not start against the left-handed Garcia, came on to pinch hit for Juan Lagares.  The Marlins countered with LOOGY Chris O’Grady.  It didn’t matter as Conforto his a double to the right field corner.

That set up runners on second and third with one out.  Instead of going with the hitless switch hitting Jose Reyes to pinch hit for Wheeler, Mickey Callaway went with Adrian Gonzalez.  Callaway’s faith in Gonzalez was rewarded with him delivering a go-ahead two RBI single.

When Starlin Castro couldn’t corral an Asdrubal Cabrera pop up in shallow right field, Junichi Tazawa would be brought on to neutralize Wilmer Flores.  It didn’t work with Flores delivering an RBI ground rule double.  Frazier would follow with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-1 Mets.

To punctuate the win, Robert Gsellman struck out the side in the eighth.  He has now struck out 12 of the 27 batters he has faced this season.

Jerry Blevins and AJ Ramos would combine to pitch a scoreless ninth to secure the Mets 4-1 victory.

Really, this was a game the Mets were dead in the water.  They were unable to get a hit because of great Marlins pitching and defense.  All that ended in an epic eighth inning rally.  Really, that’s how great things are going for the 10-1 Mets right now.  Even when getting no-hit and having no catchers left from their Opening Day roster, they come back and give Wheeler the victory.

Game Notes: While Plawecki stayed in to run the bases after the HBP, he would be lifted when his turn in the order came back up.  Tomas Nidowho was called up to take d’Arnaud’s spot on the roster, pinch hit for Plawecki and hit into an inning ending double play.  Reyes remains hitless.

Five Aces Finally Deal In

The Mets are 9-1, and they are now off to the best start in franchise history.  However, right now, when it comes to the Mets, this isn’t even the biggest news of the season:

Saturday, April 7th at Washington – Steven Matz
Sunday, April 8th at Washington – Matt Harvey
Monday, April 9th at Miami – Noah Syndergaard
Tuesday, April 10th at Miami – Jacob deGrom
Wednesday, April 11th at Miami – Zack Wheeler

Sometime after 7:10 P.M., after the bottom of the first has ended, the dream will finally be realized.  The Five Aces will have finally taken one turn through the rotation. What’s funny about it is the dream was thought to be dead.

In 2015, before Syndergaard and Matz were called up to the majors, Wheeler needed Tommy John surgery.  As a result, this meant the dream, which was still in its infancy, would have to wait a year.

Heading into 2016, the Mets re-signed Bartolo Colon to help allow Wheeler to take his time in his rehab.  He would have a number of setbacks, and he would never pitch in 2016.  That year also saw deGrom, Harvey, and Matz befall season ending injuries themselves.

In 2017, the Mets were once again poised to have them all in the same rotation.  However, Matz would need to begin the season on the disabled list.  Syndergaard didn’t have an MRI and tore his lat.  Harvey and Wheeler would find their way onto the disabled list with stress reactions after they had probably been rushed into the rotation before they were ready.

The progress in 2017 was they at least all made a start in the same season.  That was something Generation K never did.  In 1995, we saw Jason Isringhausen and Bill Pulsipher in the same rotation.  Like with Wheeler, it was discovered Pulsipher needed Tommy John during the ensuing Spring Training.  As a result, this meant it was just Isringhausen and Paul Wilson in the rotation.

In 1997, Isringhausen was the only one to pitch for the Mets with Wilson pitching in the minors with shoulder problems and Pulsipher experiencing depression and complications from Tommy John.  Pulsipher would be the only one to pitch for the Mets in 1998 with Isringhausen hurt and Wilson hurt and in the minors.

In 1998, Pulipsher was the first to go.  He was traded to the Brewers for Mike Kinkade.  In 1999, it was Isringhausen’s turn to go as the Mets thought it better to use him to obtain Billy Taylor rather than use him in the bullpen.

Pulsipher came back to the organization in 2000, and he lost the Spring Training competition for the fifth starter spot to Glendon Rusch.  Both he and Wilson would get traded that season as the Mets sought reinforcements in Lenny Harris, Bubba Trammell, and Rick White to help them win a World Series.

The odd thing about seeing Generation K all being traded away for supporting pieces was they were supposed to be the leading drive towards a World Series.  Overall, they’d never appear in the same rotation, and they would pitch for the Mets in the postseason.

Seeing Generation K’s struggles makes what is happening tonight all the more remarkable.  Not only are we finally seeing these five pitchers in the same rotation, but we have already seen them have the success we once expected from Generation K.  In fact, they’ve been much more successful.

In many ways, seeing Wheeler start tonight is going to slay many demons for the entire Mets organization.

From the start the Mets have had and the seemingly magic tough Mickey Callaway has had, there is a lot more in store for the Mets.  That said, short of David Wright taking the field again, it is going to be hard to envision a more powerful moment that will happen this (regular) season.

Cabrera Homers Part of Mets Refusal to Lose

You know you have a good team when they bring it every day no matter what the circumstances.  You know you have a great team when they always respond to adversity.  They respond to a tough inning in the field with a good at-bat.  When the opponent takes they lead, they come right back and tie the score.

Tonight was just the latest in seeing how this Mets team can be great.

In the first, Wilmer Flores doubled off Caleb Smith to score Michael Conforto, who led the game off with a double.  In the fourth, Asdrubal Cabrera hit a monster home run:

In the fifth, Amed Rosario hit a double, and Conforto singled him home to give the Mets a 3-0 lead.  With Jacob deGrom cruising, it seemed like this was going to be an easy game for the Mets.

Unfortunately, the fifth would prove to be an ugly inning for the Mets.  It started with a Yadiel Rivera grounder to third, which probably should’ve been called foul and Mickey Callaway should’ve challenged but didn’t.  We’d later see Todd Frazier deflect a ball he should’ve let go to Rosario, which led to the Marlins first run of the game.

The second run was scored on a Starlin Castro sacrifice fly.  On the play, Conforto completely missed the cutoff man allowing Rojas to go to second.  Justin Bour, who had a big night against the Mets, then homered to give the Marlins a 4-3 lead.

Where some teams would be shell-shocked, the Mets immediately responded with a Frazier double.  He’d then get aggressive on the bases tagging up on a Cabrera fly ball to left field and beating Derek Dietrich‘s throw.  After a Kevin Plawecki walk, this put him in position to score on the ensuing Juan Lagares sacrifice fly to tie the game at 4-4.

Surprisingly, given how Callaway has handled the pitching staff, deGrom came out to pitch a scoreless sixth.  He’d get a no decision, and his final line was 6.0 innings, seven hits, four runs, four earned, one walk, and six strikeouts.  Not a great start, but he did put his team in position to win the game.  With better umpiring and some better defense, that line would have looked much better.

In the seventh, Jacob Rhame came into the game, and he just didn’t have it.  The one none sacrifice out he got was a deep fly ball to center that probably would have gone for extra bases had it been someone other than Lagares out there.  Rhame did have a chance to get out of the inning, but he made a mistake on the first pitch to Bour.  Bour launched his second homer of the night giving the Marlins the lead against at 6-4.

Paul Sewald in just his second appearance of the year got the final out of the inning allowing the Mets a chance to comeback and tie the score.

Given how this Mets team has played so far this year, it should come as no surprise they did actually tie the score in the top of the eighth.  Flores and Cabrera would both homer off Kyle Barraclough.

In the bottom of the inning, Hansel Robles and the Mets dodged a bullet as Bryan Holaday just missed a homer.  Everyone but Robles, who probably wasn’t pointing up, thought that was out.  Where many expected Robles to melt down, he bore down.  He got out of the inning highlighted by punch out of Rojas to end the inning.

As a bad Marlins team will learn many times this year, you don’t give a good team like the Mets this many chances.

Brian Anderson threw a ball away allowing Rosario to reach safely instead of the Marlins recording the second out of the inning.  Brad Ziegler followed the error by walking Conforto to put the game in Yoenis Cespedes‘ hands.  Even with Cespedes being on a 1-20 cold streak, he still had the magic to deliver a two RBI double to give the Mets an 8-6 lead.

The two run lead was more than enough for the resurgent Jeurys Familia to close it out.

Ultimately, the Mets won this game because they are resilient.  They won because Cabrera hit two huge homers.  They won because they are embodying the spirit of Frazier who responds to every negative play with a positive one.  They won because they’re a great team.

In fact, at the moment, you can argue they’re the greatest team in Mets history because they now have the best start to a season in Mets history with them standing with the best record in baseball at 9-1.

Game Notes: Before the game, Brandon Nimmo was sent down to Vegas to make room on the roster for Corey Oswalt.  Oswalt was called up due to how taxed the bullpen has been early in the season.

1980s Mets Teams Needed Second Wild Card

With the Mets beating the Marlins last night, the Mets have just the third 8-1 start in their 56 year history.  Judging from the other two times the Mets did this, this team could very well be flirting with 100 wins this year.

The last time the Mets started a season 8-1 was 2006 when the Mets won 97 games.  That team annihilated the National League en route to a disappointing end to the season as Adam Wainwright struck out Carlos Beltran.

The other time the Mets started the season 8-1 was in 1985 when the Mets won 98 games.  Much like the 2006 season, that Mets team saw their chances of winning a World Series get vanquished by the Cardinals.  That year, the season effectively ended as Gary Carter flew out to right against Jeff Lahti.

Unlike 2006, this was not in the NLCS.  In case you are curious, this didn’t happen in the NLDS either. It couldn’t have because the 98 win Mets team did not make the postseason.  Baffling, right?

Nowadays, it’s relatively unheard of 90+ win teams missing the postseason.  Since the introduction of the second Wild Card, no 90 win team has ever missed the postseason.  Since the introduction of the Wild Card, the only 95+ team to miss the postseason was the 1999 Reds, and they missed the postseason because Al Leiter pitched a complete game two hit shutout in the play-in game.

Other than that, if you win 90 games, you are a sure bet to make it to the posteason.  Unfortunately, the Wild Card was not present during the greatest stretch in Mets history.

From 1984 to 1990, the Mets AVERAGED 95 wins, and they won 100 games twice.  In each of those seasons, they finished second or better in their division.  However, under the old two divisional format, there were no Wild Cards.  As a result, the Mets only went to the postseason in the two years they won 100 games – 1986 and 1988.

If the rules were re-calibrated and the current divisional format, the 1980s Mets very well could have been a dynasty; the dynasty everyone thought they would be in 1986.  Part of the reason why is that team would have been in the postseason every year:

Year Wins Result New Result
1984 90 2nd NL East NL East Champs
1985 98 2nd NL East NL East Champs
1986 108 Won World Series Won World Series
1987 92 2nd NL East NL East Champs
1988 100 Lost NLCS Lost NLCS
1989 87 2nd NL East NL East Champs
1990 91 2nd NL East NL East Champs

With three divisions and two Wild Card, those 80s Mets would have had a run similar to those 90s Braves.  Instead, they missed the postseason in five of those seven seasons.

Sure, we probably don’t see Keith Hernandez telling Jesse Orosco to not throw another fastball, and we don’t see Mookie Wilson hit a grounder between Bill Buckner‘s legs.  In lieu of this, there would have been other incredible moments, and who knows?  Maybe the Mets win multiple World Series with the Darryl StrawberryDwight Gooden core.

We’ll never know because they never got that chance.  However, these Mets, who have made the postseason two out of the last three years, may get their chance.  They’re going to need to take advantage of whatever challenge comes their wasy.

Mets Do Enough to Beat Marlins

After a huge sweep of the Nationals, Mickey Callaway put it to his veterans to see if the veterans wanted the day off after landing in Miami at 5 A.M.  In a promising sign for the season, the Mets players were not overlooking the Marlins, and they all wanted to get right back out there.

Certainly, after all the excitement in Washington, this series was going to be a bit of a let-down. The real challenge was not letting this become a trap series.  Fortunately for the Mets, they had Noah Syndergaard on the mound, which always gives the Mets a big advantage.

The one issue is Thor hasn’t quite been Thor this season.  Even in his Opening Day start when he struck out 10, he allowed four runs.  He didn’t see the fifth inning in his second start, and the early season troubles carried forward into tonight.

His troubles started in the fifth when Amed Rosario didn’t get his glove down on a Brian Anderson grounder.  With Michael Conforto playing deep in an expansive ToMarlins Park outfield that became a two base error.  After two quick outs, Syndergaard issued back-to-back two out walks to Bryan Holaday and Tomas Telis.  This led to a Miguel Rojas RBI single.

In the sixth, Anderson got to Syndergaard again doubling home Starlin Castro, who had led off the inning with a single.  Syndergaard would get out of the inning before allowing any further damage and with the Mets still having a lead.

His final line was 6.0 innings, five hits, two runs, one earned, two walks, and five strikeouts.  No, there is nothing wrong with that start, and with Syndergaard pumping in 94 MPH sliders, there wasn’t anything wrong with his stuff.  However, it just seems like something is just off.  And yet despite, that he got the win.

The Mets would score four runs even with the offense sputtering a bit against Jose Urena and the rest of the Marlins staff.  Despite getting the leadoff runner on in five of the nine innings and the team drawing five walks, they could only push four runs across home plate.  Fortunately, that was plenty.

Rosario got the first rally started with a second inning with a Todd Frazier lead-off walk.  He’d come home to score after ensuing singles from Asdrubal Cabrera and Adrian Gonzalez.  The damage might’ve been greater, but Kevin Plawecki hit into a double play.  Cabrera scored on the play giving the Mets a 2-0 lead.

That lead grew to 3-0 in the third on a rally started by a long Rosario double that nearly went out to deep center.  For a moment, it appeared he wasn’t going to score after a Conforto flyout and a Yoenis Cespedes strikeout. Rosario still came to score on a Jay Bruce RBI single.

For his part, Cespedes, who is battling the flu had a tough game at the plate.  He was 0-4 with three strikeouts leaving five Mets on base.  Even with that, he did make a great throw in the outfield:

Really, the Mets should have blown the game open in the seventh.  Gonzalez had a lead-off walk off Junichi Tazawa, and Brandon Nimmo, pinch hitting for Sydnergaard, reached on a Justin Bour throwing error.  Rosario came up and brought home Gonzalez with the one out RBI single to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.

Conforto would then walk to load the bases, but no further damage would be done as Cespedes and Bruce struck out to end the inning.

There are games where the inability to tack on runs comes back to bite you.  With the way the Mets bullpen is pitching this year, today wasn’t that day.

Hansel Robles flirted with trouble in the seventh, but he got out of the inning unscathed.  Jerry Blevins and AJ Ramos combined for a scorless eighth, and Jeurys Familia recorded his sixth save of the season.

It wasn’t an easy save for Familia.  Derek Dietrich hit a double just past the outstretched glove of Bruce to put runners on second and third with one out.  With the tying runs in scoring position, Familia responded by striking out Rojas and Castro to end the game.

The Mets had a tough task ahead of them having to face a bad Marlins team.  Overall, the Mets did what good teams do – they did what they needed to do to beat the bad team.

Game Notes: Juan Lagares did not enter the game for defense in the ninth.  This is the third time in Mets history they started the season 8-1.  In 1985, the Mets won 98 games and missed the postseason. In 2006, they won 97 games en route to winning the NL East.

Callaway’s Third Managerial Test

If you look at the Mets first eight games of the season, Mickey Callaway has already been tested twice.  The first test came in the first five games of the season against the Cardinals and the Phillies.

In those five games, Callaway had to show everyone he wasn’t Gabe Kapler or Aaron Boone.  Put another way, he had to show us and his team he knew what he was doing.  He showed that mettle which has escaped both Kapler and Boone thus far in his putting his team in their best position to win a game.  More than that, he capably sat Brandon Nimmo after a big game and played Juan Lagares by justifying it to the media and his team rather than simply pointing to numbers.  Yes, Callaway used the numbers to inform his decision, but he handled his situation capably with no griping from the fans or team.

The next test came much earlier for Callaway than it comes for most managers. That test was whether he had the ability to manage in a big series.

We can argue whether an April series is ever truly a big series.  What we cannot argue is Callaway managed it like it was one, and his team responded in kind sweeping the Nationals and announcing this was a team to beat in the National League East.

Part of managing this like a big series was riding his bullpen arms hard.  Jeurys Familia pitched 1.2 innings for the save, and he has pitched six innings over his first five appearances.  Robert Gsellman pitched two games in the series, and he has made two two inning appearances over a four day span.

Seth Lugo was given the heaviest workload.  Two days after pitching two innings, he was used for an inning to close out an 8-2 game.  Three days later, he’s pitching three innings and picking up the win in a 12 inning game.

When it is a big series, and when you have short starts from both Matt Harvey and Steven Matz, you can certainly understand why Callaway rode his top guns the way he did.  The Mets had a chance to make a statement in that series, and they did.

Now, the Mets are not sneaking up on anyone.  We know they’re good, and the rest of baseball knows it now too.  The question is how does Callaway handle it.

Does he continue to ask his top relievers to keep going to the well, or do we start to see more innings from Paul Sewald (likely to be demoted when Zack Wheeler is activated), or Jacob Rhame, who made a statement of his own closing out Sunday’s win?  Really, how does this Mets team respond to success?

Do they continue looking like a team having fun grinding the salt and pepper shakers?  Are they going to be alright with splitting playing time or staying on the bench for stretches?

We don’t know the answer to those questions yet.  However, we do see Callaway is the type of manager who can deftly handle these and all questions this team is going to face.  Hopefully, we will see Callaway pass this third test with flying colors like he did with the first two tests.