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The Amazins in Astoria: August 12-21

Image: AP

Welcome back to the Amazins in Astoria, a season-long chronicle of my life in relation to the New York Mets.

For the first entry in this series, click here.

For the previous entry, click here.


August 12th-14th-Home Series vs. Philadelphia Phillies (73-39 Pre-Series)

On Saturday morning, mere hours after the Phillies took down the Mets on national tv and I drowned my sorrows in K-Town Karaoke, I'm watching 1978's Superman. Midway through the movie, Lex Luthor, portrayed by Gene Hackman, takes a break from plotting his convoluted real estate scheme to read a piece in The Daily Planet titled "I Spent the Night with Superman." On the back page of the paper, the sports section can be clearly seen featuring the headline "Mets Lose Again by 1-0."

Image: Warner Bros.

While it's possible that they just pasted the fictional cover over a copy of The New York Times, I can't but think that leaving this Mets headline was an inside joke from the production department. In my experience with superhero media from the 60s and 70s, which is a lot more thorough than I care to admit, the Mets were always the butt of the joke, seen as the sloppy group of ball players playing in the fishbowl that was Shea Stadium.

A rag-tag team no longer, the Mets take Games 2 and 3 in their final homestand against Philly pretty decisively. On Saturday, Jacob DeGrom shuts out the Phillies in a war of attrition, striking out 10 in a 1-0 win. His pitch counts are still limited, this time just throwing 76, but he's pumping every bit of power he can into each one. I can't tell if this excites or worries me. On Sunday, Chris Bassitt returns to form to help the Mets take the rubber match 6-0. In both games this weekend, the Mets deadline acquisitions continued to impress, as well as dampen my own concerns about their necessity. By taking 2 in this series, the Mets hold firm in their 5.5 game lead over the Braves, ensuring that they'll hold the division no matter what happens in their weekday series.

However, with a Friday loss on National TV, will the age-old ribbing in pop culture stick around for another season?

August 15th-18th-Away Series vs. Atlanta Braves (75-40 Pre-Series)

If the Mets keep playing like they did against Atlanta in this 4-game set, then probably not. Friday's game against the Phillies saw several key Mets leave early due to injury, including Jeff McNeil and Eduardo Escobar. However, I really can't excuse what we saw this week against Atlanta by chalking it up to a few missing players. Even in a season where the Mets can get triple-digit wins, they're still playing in the same division as the reigning World Series champs. At this point in the season, to think that the division lead will ever reach double digits again is foolish.

More so than ever, it's clear that should these teams meet in the playoffs, young talent could be a huge determining factor. For the Braves, it's Spencer Strider, who lit up the Mets through 5 innings while the Braves offense pounded the Mets bullpen for 13 runs. If Darin Ruf is the only pitcher who doesn't earn a run, something is clearly wrong. Following the game, Strider made a few comments that really riled up some Mets fans, but to be honest, I thought it was pretty funny. While saying that being able to put the ball in play equates to luck is a stretch, the rest is some decent banter that I hope Mets fans can flip on him later this year.

As for the Mets, with a hole to fill at 3rd base, Brett Baty made his major league debut for the Mets after a starting in Double-A in the Spring. While I stopped playing baseball in 3rd grade, I can understand the notion that even with a .943 Minor League OPS, there is little that can prepare you for your first at-bat in The Show. Their is probably even less to prepare you when that at-bat is for one of the best teams in the majors fighting to hold onto to the division. All that being said, Baty looked like a natural, crushing a 2-run bomb in the 2nd off of Odorizzi as his family looked on from the crowd. While a rough series overall, Baty snagging 2 hits and 2 RBIs in his first 2 games as a Met is definitely up there in terms of season highlights. Once the rosters expand in September, I really hope we can see some more major talent make an impact this postseason.

(Psst...not to flex, but I also just want to add that I was able to interview Baty the day he was drafted by the Mets in 2019. Check out a piece I did way back in 2019 by clicking here.)

August 19th-21st-Away Series vs. Philadelphia Phillies (76-43 Pre-Series)

It's around 4:30 on Sunday afternoon, the final game between the Mets and the Phillies for the whole season. The Mets dropped Game 2 of last night's double header, and the Braves have taken 2 out of 3 games against the Astros this weekend to shrink the gap in the standings to just 3 games. In a back-and-forth slugfest, the Phillies get out to a 7-5 lead before an hour long rain delay prolongs either a classic Mets comeback, or a punctuation from Phillies fans that could carry over into next year. Maybe it's the years of watching struggling franchises in me, but stealing the last win of the season against a better division rival is always fun, which is exactly why I'm stressing a little bit more than I need to right now.

Luckily, to ease the tension I feel, as always, is Mark Canha. Despite no Paper Planes to accompany his strut to the plate, I know that if anyone can get us out of a hole, it's him. Down 8-7 in the top of the 9th, on a 2-2- count, Canha dingers to left center to give the Mets a 9-8 lead that they would not relinquish, allowing New York to end their series with their biggest rivals at 14-5 in 2022. As the season winds down, there is still no room to relax. The lead on the division is a measly 4 games, and they've still got one more set against the Yankees, the Dodgers, and Braves left to play. However, if we're talking milestones, dominating the Phillies over the course of a season is a pretty good place to start.


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