Following the two September collapses in 2007 and 2008 and the miserable 2009, the word “heart” is not one often used to describe the New York Mets. But that is changing, because the Mets have been showing a lot of heart lately. I’m sure I was not the only Mets fan who wrote them off on Sunday when they were down 5-0. But they fought their way back to win the game and sweep the Marlins.
They did it again Tuesday night. Down 1-0 and not showing much in the way of offense, a Jose Reyes home run in the seventh tied it up, and Ike Davis’ monstrous blast in the 11th gave the Mets the win.
Come-from-behind victories like these tend to get a team fired-up. The Mets are on another one of their hot streaks. They are winners of four in a row, and are 5-1 in June. They are four games over .500, and in the thick of things in a very competitive NL East.
Jeff Francoeur is red-hot, raising his average a whopping .50 points over the past ten games. David Wright has as many homers (10) already this season as he had last year. Reyes is looking more like the Reyes of old. And Angel Pagan has somehow raised his baseball IQ from last season’s rating of “bonehead” to this year’s “competent.”
Mike Pelfrey simply amazes with each outing — he went nine innings Tuesday, but got a no-decision. Speaking of no decisions, Johan Santana has been the hard luck guy lately, but he’ll rack up the wins. Other than that, the pitching is still a bit shaky. But as long as the Mets bats can bail them out, the Mets will be a tough team over the course of the season. And if they continue to show heart, a playoff spot is theirs for the taking.
I was flipping back and forth Tuesday between the Mets game and Stephen Strasburg’s debut with the Nationals. That guy is everything they’ve said, and more. He is simply incredible. His fastball reaches 100 mph. But more importantly, it has amazing movement that makes it impossible to hit. His off-speed stuff is 90 mph! And his breaking ball is simply unhittable.
Even though Strasburg is going to be a thorn in the Mets side for a long time to come, I’m glad he’s living up to the hype. So many athletes come in with great fanfare and crawl away with their tails between their legs. It reminds me of the hype surrounding Tiger Woods, whom they were calling the “next Jack Nicklaus” when Woods was a teenager. I never thought he could be that good. But it turned out he lived up to the billing (his marriage issues not withstanding).
Superior athletes like Strasburg come along once in a generation (twice, if you believe the Bryce Harper hype). We’re lucky that we get to watch him progress. But judging from what I saw Tuesday, he’s already progressed to the point that he’ll be among the best pitchers in baseball in no time.