By Rich Coutinho
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When they started the season at 5-13, the baseball world was prepared to throw dirt on the Mets. There was talk about salary dumps, trading players in contract years, and not letting their’s closer’s option kick in. A funny thing happened on the way to their demise. Terry Collins and his players didn’t get the memo, and right now the Mets are playing a spirited, hard-nosed type of the baseball that has bred a winning attitude.

It’s not like the Mets have not been hit with the injury bug in this stretch. Angel Pagan, Pedro Beato, Chris Young, Ike Davis, and Bobby Parnell have all landed on the disabled list. Reinforcements Justin Turner, Jason Pridie, and Ronny Paulino all contributing heavily to the turnaround. Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran (and Ike Davis before he got hurt) have carried the offensive load while the bullpen has been incredible. K-Rod has been the best closer in baseball in the season’s first 40 games and the rest of the bullpen has been just as good. Jason Isringhausen is playing a major role in giving the Mets their best 8th inning bridge they have had in years.

So, the Mets come home feeling good about themselves and they should. They have become a young, athletic, exciting team that quite frankly is a better watch right now than the team across the river. Sure, they have holes in their rotation, but a good bullpen could cover up some of those weaknesses and their lineup in as good as any in their league. Beltran and Reyes are at the top of a plethora of NL offensive categories. In fact, in a year where offense is down, the Mets possess one of the few lineups in the NL from 1 through 6 pose a challenge to any team’s pitching staff.

The Mets head into a telling week today: 4 games against divisional rivals and then a trip to the Bronx. It might be interesting to note that the mighty New York Yankees have exactly one more win than the Mets–that’s right I said ONE– and who knows by the weekend, the Mets may have more wins. There also seems to be much more harmony in the Met clubhouse these days than in the Bronx. The Posada-Gate incident revealed the beginning of tough times in that clubhouse as veteran players are given complimentary roles.

But first things first–The Mets need to take 3 of 4 from the Marlins and Nationals to get back to the .500 mark that seemed a universe away just 3 short weeks ago. Then they head to a place where the infamous Luis Castillo drop still haunts them. What better way to exorcise that ghost than by taking 2 of 3 in the House that Ruth Built?

The way the Mets and Yankees were playing 3 weeks ago, that may have seemed like a far-fetched dream. But like I said, someone forgot to tell Terry Collins. Then again, if they did, the steadfast Met manager would have just ignored them anyway.

Follow Rich on twitter: @coutinho9

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