The Mets are on a roll right now. This is their second straight eight run-plus game, and right now the Mets are leading the NL in runs scored, and are also first in runs allowed. Yet they are second in their own division by half a game, due to some close losses. Granted, the Braves have a game in hand on the Mets right now, and there is still a lot of baseball to be played, but you have to feel good about the team if you are a Mets fan.
John Maine pitched six no-hit innings, and if you’re like me, any time a Mets pitcher gets past four innings or so without allowing a hit, you start to think, “Is this going to be the first Mets’ no hitter?” I try not to think about it, as I start to think of it as a jinx, but the thought is still there. I can’t help but think about it. Whereas fans of teams like the Cubs, Astros, Giants, Indians, etc. wonder “Will I live my entire life without seeing a World Series-winning ballclub,” I wonder things like, “Will I see a Mets’ no hitter in my lifetime?” I suppose this is better than the alternative, but the thought is there, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t.
What I’m amazed by is that this team is scoring tons of runs without homers. Beltran hit his third, which leads the team, but there are some players who have hit more home runs than the Mets have as a team. The team is scoring runs by just being hard to get out; they are first in the majors in team on-base percentage, and sixth in the majors in team slugging percentage, despite the lack of homers; this indicates to me a lot of doubles and Jose Reyes contributing with triples. Throw in the team’s league-leading .296 batting average, and this has been a helluva hitting team so far.
But here’s a number that impresses me; 23 double plays turned. That tells me that the pitching is getting a big help from the defense. It’s even more of a big number when you keep in mind that Jose Valentin didn’t start playing second base regularly until June of last year. Add in the great outfield defense by Carlos Beltran and, surprisingly, Moises Alou (he is making some tough catches out there for a 41 year old man) and the defense is owed at least partial credit for that lowest runs allowed in the majors tally. They are getting to some balls that would normally drop in for hits, and they are doubling off a lot of the baserunners that do get on. Will the strong defense continue, or is this something that will correct itself over the next few months? I guess we will find out.
It’s always nice to rough up Dontrelle Willis a little bit. He is usually pretty dominant against the Mets, but here, he just couldn’t handle a Mets team that is just hitting extremely well right now. It was the irresistable force meeting the immovable object, and the irresistable force won out this time. I hope this is more of a sign of the Mets now being able to handle Willis than it is a sign of Willis just having a bad game.
The Mets finish off this two game series in Florida tonight, where Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez pitches for the first time in a few days against Rick Vanden Hurk. Sounds Dutch. Game time is 7:05 PM EST.