Forget the old baseball cliche of “it’s entirely too early.” Long-lasting should be the only conversation as it pertains to the New York Mets blazing 11-1 start to the 2018 MLB campaign.
It wasn’t Steven Matz’s night for a spectacular outing. Though he picked up the win while yielding three runs, super-utility slugger Hernan Perez smashed a two-run shot in the top of the fourth inning to thrust his Milwaukee Brewers back into a sudden 2-2 contest.
He said, “Don’t worry boys. It’s my turn tonight.”
— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) April 14, 2018
His solo home run in the bottom of the fourth not only put the Mets up 3-2, helping them to their 11th win over the first 12 games, it kept that “we always answer back quickly” narrative glowing.
Eleven and one—even the majority of Mets fans cannot believe their eyes.
Where the rub comes to play is when generic baseball principles are bandied about. One such annoying yet familiar case is, “It’s early.” Never can a team be judged after just 12 games of a Major League Baseball season. It’s literally just an ounce more than one game of 17-week NFL regular season. It’s nothing. It’s a speck on the fanny.
In Flushing, it’s different. The 2018 version may be judged after just 12 games.
The first-year big-league skipper is the real deal. Forget World Series appearances and pennants. Such dreams could never be realized or pondered about after just 12 games. But for the folks who’ve watched every inning of the current campaign, the legitimacy of the Terry Francona disciple is inarguable.
The Mets are suddenly fundamentally sound. How could this happen?
This is the same team who had Lucas Duda throwing errand balls at home plate on the world’s biggest stage. It’s the same team under Sandy Alderson who could care less about defense and speed while holding true to his motto of “a bloop and a blast.” This is the same team whose overall fielding and baserunning in terms of fundamentally-sound baseball over the last decade or so would have the Bad News Bears strutting around the diamond with realistic-baseball pride.
With New York nursing a 6-4 lead in the top of the seventh on Friday night, Yoenis Cespedes was forced to make a sound play without his usual “let if fly” canon. Lorenzo Cain looked to snag an extra bag. Cespedes gunned him down with ease.
It wasn’t spectacular. It wasn’t powerful. In fact, Cain’s decision was a poor one. But it was a necessary, simple throw that former version of Cespedes and the Mets may have goofed with a lack of intensity or focus.
An inning later, first baseman Jesus Aguilar said “no no” to an attempt of stretching a left-field single into a double. Of course that fear had more to do with Yo’s raw talent with that legendary canon, but still, the fundamentally-sound and efficient defense has baserunners on notice.
We’ve also witnessed it on the basepaths as it’s clear Callaway’s aggressive approach has led to placing unwanted pressure on the opposition.
Most importantly thus far, we’re watching it in the clubhouse in the area of chemistry. Whether it’s the three-hitter, Amed Rosario near the bottom of the order or Michael Conforto in the leadoff spot, when it’s time to be called upon, these Callaway-led Mets deliver. Friday night was Todd Frazier‘s turn.
The salt-and-pepper shaker act is still just in its infancy yet Frazier—a man whom the Bronx club feels like it misses at the moment—is all in, via AP.
“Put a little seasoning on the year,” he said, giving the alternate rationale. “We’ve got to have fun. It’s baseball. You feel like a little kid.”
“We expect to win,” said Frazier, who also singled and walked. “Once you expect to win and you truly believe, I think there’s no going wrong.”
Prior to his “don’t worry” homer in the fourth, Frazier smacked his first as a Met in the second.
— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) April 13, 2018
The ironic part about Friday’s win, the team’s ninth straight, is that this typical home run-winning route hasn’t been the norm. In fact, Callaway’s 2018 club has already surpassed the 2017 version in the category of wins without hitting a home run. Whether it’s pitching, baserunning, fundamentals along the diamond and in the outfield, the 25-man clubhouse has reflected everything that right with the squad’s rookie manager.
Still, high vibes and talented manager and coaches can’t overcome the elephant that’s made the proverbial room his home. Injuries.
Yes. Everybody favorite trainer (Ray Ramirez) is finally gone. Scapegoat or not, so are the injuries. The number of man-games lost the Mets have suffered (and yes, there is evidence to safely assume they’ve ranked as one of the worst if not the worst) has suddenly declined since the start of Spring Training. It’s been a real issue that’s held back a talented roster.
Since the Phenom Five (Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler) came of age, the Mets have been a legit ball club. Only injuries have held them back from contention. It’s been the intangibles that have held them back from championships (circa 2015).
As great as 11-1 is (coming on Friday the 13th, no less), remaining healthy is the name of that elephant.
The team started 17-9 and 20-11 two seasons ago. They finished with an NL Wild Card Game ouster. Too many teams to count have come out of the gates hotter than baseball hell only to see their 162-game dreams come crashing down.
Forget about something “feeling right.” In this instance, everything “looks right.”
These New York Mets aren’t just sheer power at the plate and on the rubber. They bring the power while demonstrating fundamentally-sound fielding, baserunning and overall team chemistry and camaraderie on a nightly basis.
The championship evidence is still miles away, but when it comes to relevancy, forget about it. They’ve been that damn sound every inning. Talent and power comes and goes. It’s streaky.
Talent and power with sound leadership, sound baseball play and chemistry is consistent—even during the dog days of summer.
Forget Amazin’. It’s long-lasting to the tune of legitimacy for the remainder of the 2018 MLB season.