Mets

Coleman’s Corner: Mets Feeling Good Despite Walk-Off Balk

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New York Mets pitcher D.J. Carrasco, center, walks off the mound after balking in the winning run as the Atlanta Braves run onto the field to celebrate in the 10th inning of a baseball game, Thursday, June 16, 2011, in Atlanta. The Braves won 9-8. (credit: AP Photo/Tami Chappell)

New York Mets pitcher D.J. Carrasco, center, walks off the mound after balking in the winning run as the Atlanta Braves run onto the field to celebrate in the 10th inning of a baseball game, Thursday, June 16, 2011, in Atlanta. The Braves won 9-8. (credit: AP Photo/Tami Chappell)

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By Ed Coleman
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You couldn’t blame the Mets if they were upset about a walk-off balk, of all things, costing them a chance for a sweep of the Braves in Atlanta and a great road trip — but they weren’t.

D.J. Carrasco just made the final mistake in a game that was full of them for both sides. So a possible 7-3 road trip became 6-4, and pushed the Mets back under .500 for another day. But they still accomplished a lot.

They won a series in Milwaukee, where the Brewers have one of the best home records in all of baseball. They won a series at Turner Field, which has always been tough to do. And they split a series with the Pirates, who are now just 3 games out in the N.L. Central. The Mets are now 3-0-2 in their last 5 overall series. And they’ve already captured their 6th road series win this season – they only won 5 road series throughout the entire 2010 season.

Teams transition themselves through seasons, fighting through injuries, losing streaks, slumps, etc. There is a period that you go through where you think you can do it. And then there comes a time when you actually believe you can do it. I asked manager Terry Collins whether he thinks his team might be at that point right now.

Some of the veteran position players and pitchers on this team were worried about their spots, their roles, during spring training and then into the season, but they have bought into the process as the games have progressed.

Prior to R.A. Dickey’s sub-par performance on Thursday in Atlanta, Met starters had the lowest ERA (2.47) over the previous 20 games in all of baseball during that span. Pretty impressive. And Collins says a lot of that can be laid at the feet of pitching coach Dan Warthen.

Where’s the pop? Interesting numbers on the Mets offense. Since May 22 – 24 games – the Mets are hitting .285, second only to the Red Sox (.294) over that time period.

They’ve collected 236 hits – 79% of which are singles. Four out of every 5 Met hits have been singles. They have 31 doubles – 11 triples – just 8 HR – and 186 singles. Maybe a good sign – 6 of the 8 HR came on the just completed 10-game road trip – 4 of the 6 in the last 5 games. Perhaps it’s picking up. But now it’s back to Citi Field.

Speaking of which, a place where the Mets should hold a distinct home-field advantage has yielded a home record of 2 games under .500 thus far. Something that has not escaped, nor pleased, manager Collins.

National League teams and the Yankees are at least familiar with Citi Field – the Angels and A’s, who come in next – are not. Time for the Mets to take advantage of that this homestand.

Jose Reyes just collected his 100th hit of the season in 66 games. That sets a new franchise record for fewest games needed to reach 100 hits – the old mark was held by Lance Johnson (72 games) in 1996. The only other shortstop since 1900 to reach 100 hits in 66 games is a guy you would never associate with Reyes – Mark Grudzielanek with the Montreal Expos, also in 1996.

Reyes just keeps buzzing along at a remarkable pace. He leads the majors in hitting (.348) – multi-hit games (35) – hits (101) – and triples (12). And he just completed the road trip with a .404 batting average. Anything else you’d like No. 7 to do?

Couldn’t be happier the way the basketball and hockey playoffs unfolded and ended up this season. A team – a real team you could embrace – a team that actually bought into the team concept of basketball – with a great player who continuously played at an extraordinary level – won the NBA championship and captivated countless hoop fans across the country. And my beloved Broooons finally brought the Stanley Cup back to Boston after nearly four decades of waiting. Cheesy, Pie and Espo would be proud.

C U soon
Eddie C.

Did the balk-off loss on Thursday ruin the Mets’ road trip for you? Sound off in the comments below…

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