By Ernie Palladino
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Now that the Mets have gotten one big aspect of their offense down, it’s time for them to get a little greedy.
As exciting as it is to see balls flying over fences at alarming rates, the situational hitting still leaves much to be desired. And if the Mets expect to kick their season into truly high gear in the near future, they’ll have to get that under control, preferably starting Friday in Atlanta.
That will take some hitting discipline to go along with a mindset that no runner should ever go un-plated.
As Bernie Sanders’ undertaxed arch-enemy Gordon Gekko said, “Greed is good.” And that applies on the baseball diamond as well as on Wall Street.
The really important thing, of course, is that the Mets have begun to win series. Two out of three in Cleveland and two out of three in Philadelphia looked a lot better than what had happened during the 3-5 start. And, let’s face it, it ultimately doesn’t matter how runners come in, as long as they cross in sufficient bunches to keep the dial moving northward.
So the homers are great. Wonderful, even. Back-to-back jobs in three straight games. A franchise-record 19 homers in the six-game span since they hit Cleveland last week. Twelve in the last three. Twenty-eight of 37 road trip runs off homers.
Yoenis Cespedes has caught fire with five homers in his last seven games. Neil Walker continues to be a power source, and Lucas Duda came alive with homers in each of the three games at Citizens Bank Ballpark.
The only problem is, no team can sustain that. The six homers they slugged Tuesday was a once or twice a season occurrence.
Eventually, the lineup must get down to the business of manufacturing runs, and that’s something the Mets have yet to do with any consistency.
The .205 season batting average with runners in scoring position indicates as much. And Wednesday night’s 17 strikeouts, a handful of which raised their season total to 40 Ks with runners in scoring position, added an ugly tint to the raw figures.
While the fact that hitting with runners in scoring position is a cyclical experience, as Joe Girardi keeps reminding everyone about his own floundering squad, the Mets were never truly good at it. In the first four months of the 2015 season, before you-know-who arrived July 31, the Mets marooned runners on a regular basis.
Even their Cespedes-led resurgence couldn’t get them past 18th in the final rankings. But that was still a huge improvement from the No. 28 hole their 310 pre-All Star Game run total put them in.
Terry Collins certainly doesn’t want a repeat. Given the Mets’ recent power surge, it doesn’t seem there is much danger of it, either. The situational hitting will come around as soon as the Gekko mentality sets in.
Once that happens, there is no telling what might be in store. With Noah Syndergaard breaking radar guns, Matt Harvey supposedly having found and fixed his mechanical flaw, and Jacob deGrom once again ensconced in the rotation now that baby Jaxon has come home from the hospital, the pitching potential is whole again.
A pleasant mix of power and the well-timed single or double would make for a complete picture.
The runs will come. The 3½-game gap between the Mets and the first-place Nationals will narrow.
The Mets just have to get greedy about it.
It’s not a bad quality to have, unless you’re Bernie Sanders.
And how many baseball games has he won lately?
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