‘From the Pressbox’
By Ernie Palladino
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They have done it several times this season already, these Terry Collins-led Mets.
They’ve peered over the ledge of their season, most of the world expecting them to make that big plummet to a sub-.500 season anytime, and they have done just enough to pull themselves away from the craggy route to the bottom.
Yesterday’s 6-5 win over the Blue Jays was a typical case in point. The Mets weren’t dominating, and darned near blew the whole thing under Frank Francisco’s unsteady hand in the ninth. But the closer, after putting two runners on right off the bat with a walk and a single, struck out Edwin Encarnacion, J.P. Arencibia, and Eric Thames to avoid his team’s fifth loss in six games.
Instead, they go back to 22-19, three games over .500. Certainly not great. And let’s not have any divisional title talk. This team is not made for such lofty goals, and it won’t happen unless some angel lights upon Collins’ shoulder and produces a miracle.
Then again, miracles are known to happen in Flushing. Remember 1969? Remember poor Bill Buckner’s favorite Met, Mookie Wilson, in 1986?
But enough of that. We can have that talk in late August, providing the Mets sit well above .500 and have positioned themselves in striking distance of the NL East leader, be it Atlanta, Washington, or maybe if Philadelphia ever gets itself straightened out.
For now, it’s simply enough to admire once again a potential slump-busting, interleague victory that was accomplished under mostly adverse circumstances.
For one thing, David Wright, who sat out Saturday’s game with an illness, played through it yesterday and produced a 2-for-4 outing with a walk, a double, and two RBI to put his major league-leading batting average at a tidy .412.
It came in the wake of 41-year-old starter Miguel Batista, who has been shockingly good, going on the 15-day DL with a lower back strain.
And it came with a cloud of doubt hanging over yesterday’s starter, Dillon Gee, the right-hander who gave up 11 earned runs and 18 hits in the 11 innings of his last two starts, his worst back-to-back efforts of the season.
So, of course, Gee pitches 6 2/3 innings of five-hit, three-run ball, while Wright does his thing. And who supports him but Mike Baxter, whose 3-for-4 day included a single, double, triple, and an RBI.
And don’t forget Ike Davis here. He may not only have saved the Mets from the abyss, but he may have saved his own skin with an RBI groundout in the fifth and his leadoff double in the eighth. It’s no coincidence that Collins had discussed with the media that morning his thoughts on shuffling the first baseman off to Triple-A Buffalo if he and his newly-elevated .163 BA showed no signs of revival.
Collins said that “Nothing’s written in stone,” so it could happen if the left-handed hitter can’t turn it around against Pittsburgh the next three days. The Pirates have two right-handers going the final two games in James McDonald (3-2, 2.68) and Charlie Morton (2-4, 4.35).
It remains to be seen whether this marks the start of another up-tick. This season’s history tells us it could happen.
Lose four of five, win four of five. Lose five of six, win five of six. Lose four of five again…well, we’ll see now.
One thing is certain, though. If they do fall off the cliff, it will be because of a combination of lower-level talent and inexperience. Collins’ guys have already proved adversity doesn’t scare them.
Do you think the gritty Mets can stay in contention? Be heard in the comments below…