The Mets were almost officially in crisis mode.
Then Pete Alonso bailed them out.
Sunday’s Alonso-powered win over the Padres at Citi Field was a game the Mets had to win,. After showing no signs of offense in the first two games against San Diego, the Mets needed their bats to wake up to stay atop the NL East. And before the Yankees arrive on Tuesday night.
This will be one of the most anticipated Subway Series encounters ever for good reason. The Yankees have the best record in baseball. The Mets have the fourth-best. Both teams are in World Series-or-bust mode. But for the Mets, this series means more than a few more wins.
If the Mets can assert their dominance over the Yankees, the impact will go well beyond the standings. The Yankees are superior to the Mets in almost every facet, this season and historically. Even as the Mets are putting together their best season in a decade, the Yankees have still managed to rise higher. But the Amazins have their opportunity now (and another one come August in the Bronx).
This is where the Mets can reinforce their contender status. It’s easy to get carried away in frustration with a rough patch like the one against the Padres. But the beauty of baseball is there is always another day and game. This series will be the Mets’ ultimate regular-season test if they have what it takes in October.
Yes, the Mets will keep rolling along regardless of what happens here. It is still July, after all. Sweep or get swept, the Mets will still be in great shape. And the Yankees are still likely the better team, regardless of how these games unfold. But do not underplay the importance here. If the Mets deliver, there will be another shift in perception. Momentum will be on the upswing yet again. And that might be enough to propel them back into a safer lead over the Braves. We all remember the events of July 2015, from the collapse against San Diego to the Wilmer Flores non-trade the walk-off. What followed all that? A pennant.
And this season does have an similar vibe to 2015. These Mets are playing much better than those 2015 pre-August Mets did, but they have the same feel. And now one of their biggest tests of the season awaits. In a sense, this is still David and Goliath. The Mets way always be underdogs to the Yankees. But a small chapter can begin to turn that narrative.