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The Amazins in Astoria: August 22-September 1

Image: NBC

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 in this series, click here.

August 22nd-24th-Subway Series Round 2 (79-44 Pre-Series)

When it comes to the Subway Series, I'm usually not thinking about how this will affect the Mets' battle for the division. While yes, there is an impact, the fact that it falls under interleague play usually means that it's influence on the standings are a bit muted. However, with just a 4-game lead over the Braves, who play the Pirates in a 3 game stretch, these may be two of the most important games against the Yankees ever, and even with the recent skid we've seen in the Bronx, the nerves are still there for me.

With Scherzer on the mound for Game 1, my nerves subside, but only for a fleeting moment. After nailing Benintendi and giving up a leadoff free base, Aaron Judge step up to the plate, initiating the next phase of the duel we saw in July. There was plenty of time for Judge to learn how to handle Scherzer's slider, but there is only so much you can do to be prepared for it in the moment. In 4 pitches, Scherzer takes down Judge, the killing blow being a low slider that sees Judge lurching forward to swing, and miss at. While Scherzer does end up letting in a run in the 1st before getting out of a jam, not giving up the dong to Judge is a small victory in a 2-game set that will not end well for New York.

Offensively, the Mets are nothing special in this series, but enough to hold their own against the Yankees. Daniel Vogelbach, who has been struggling as of late, cranked one off of German to give the lineup some life, but it wasn't enough to disrupt the incredible performance the Yankees righty put on on Tuesday. German's 3 K night was only elevated by the rare flop from Scherzer, who after taking down Judge early on, really struggled to locate his fastball. Despite staying on the mound until early in the 7th, I could tell Scherzer was toast after the 3rd inning, in which Aaron Judge proved that while he was once the learner, he is now the master of Scherzer's slider, taking him deep for 383 feet to give the Yanks a 2-run lead that they would not relinquish.

Adjustments were the major theme in this 2-game stretch, due to those that the Yankees made, and that the Mets did not. Even with the skid that the Yankees were on heading into this series, they are still one of the most talented teams in baseball. After Taijuan Walker's continued slump helped propel the Yankees to a win in Game 2 this week, as well as the Braves competing their sweep over the Pirates on Wednesday, the lead over the East now falls into the danger zone at just 1.5 games.

August 25th-28th-Home Series vs. Colorado Rockies (79-46 Pre-Series)

While in the danger zone after Wednesday, a 4-game stretch against the Rockies, as well as a Braves series against the Cardinals, was enough to right the ship and give a little cushion in the division. The Mets start off this 10-game homestand very strong, as Jacob DeGrom justifies his absence in the Subway Series by striking out 9 Rockies batters en route to a 3-1 win, and while the offense couldn't really maintain their form once the bullpen came out, they bailed out a struggling Chris Bassitt on Friday in a 7-6 win. Now, with 81 wins so far this year, the Mets could now clinch their first winning season in 3 years on possibly the most important Saturday of 2022.

Why is August 27th the most important Saturday of 2022? Well, I'll give you 3 reasons; first, as I mentioned, the Mets can clinch win number 82. Second, it's the third annual draft for my Dynasty Fantasy Football League. Third, before the 7:10 first pitch for Game 3 of this series, the Mets hold their first Old Timers Day in nearly 30 years. While the amount of guys playing in this game that I watched as a kid (and even high schooler) made me a feel a bit older than 24, it was nice to see the Mets honoring their 60-year history in this fashion. Additionally, while the discourse has lasted nearly 50 years about whether or nots the team should do it, I think retiring Willie Mays' number 24 was absolutely the right move. 64 years removed from the Giants and Dodgers exodus to the West Coast, the Mets inception as a return to New York National League Baseball is still an important part of this team's history, and with the retiring of 24, I think the organization is able to honor that, while finally moving forward with their own identity.

Finally, aside from being a fun celebration, I do feel like the underlying purpose of Old-Timers Day was achieved, as the Mets snag Win 82 3-0 against Colorado. Leading up to the scrimmage, as well as after, the Mets Old Timers were not shy talking about this team, their historic potential, and what it would mean not only to the fan community, but to the generations of players who came before them and fell short. While it may have been buried underneath Ray Knight's pot shots at the Wilpons, I think Pedro Martinez and Jose Reyes reflections on their 2006 playoff run hit really hard for me. While falling short of the 2015 NL Championship winning team, Mets broadcasters, analysts, and fans alike have described this team as the most talented Mets team of the century. For Martinez, who won the 2004 World Series with the Red Sox, to still think about that run says a lot about what it means to wear a Mets uniform, and his quote from Saturday is something that this current team has to internalize for the Fall:

"Today I was quick to ask two of the most talented pitchers that we have on the team, which is Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer. I don’t normally ask for much. But this time I did. I said, ‘Can you get it done for me?’ I felt like it was unfinished business.”

August 30th-September 1st-Home Series vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (82-47 Pre-Series)

After a rough patch in the middle of the month, and a nice little stretch against the Rockies to get back on track, was I expecting the Mets to take on the Dodgers in a near-postseason form? Absolutely not, especially after the Series Opener in which Taijuan Walker continued to struggle, allowing 3 runs in 5 innings before getting pulled. If you were to ask me on Tuesday night, I would have said that the bad omen for the Mets this series was bringing in Timmy Trumpet to play Edwin Diaz' walkup song live. Nothing against the guy, but I guess I was just worried that it would force a Diaz appearance when it wasn't necessary. It did not, as the Mets really weren't in a position to bring him out, and Timmy was stuck with just playing the National Anthem and Take Me Out the the Ballgame in a 4-3 loss instead.

On Wednesday night, however, something changed, and the Mets came alive against a potential playoff opponent. Over 7 innings, Jacob DeGrom has been stellar at keeping the Dodgers at bay, allowing just 1 run and striking out 9. The Mets, while only scoring 2, are putting on an exceptional performance at the plate considering they've been going up against Ty Anderson all night. In a relative stalemate, all it takes is one big moment for the Dodgers to get hot and clinch this series in Game 2. In the 7th inning, Justin Turner looks finds that moment on a perfectly placed Jacob DeGrom fastball, and as he makes contact, all you can do is watch as the ball sails right for the center field wall. However, just as the ball crosses the threshold, Brandon Nimmo, who is probably thanking himself for all the first base sprints he has made up until now, makes the leap for what will probably be the greatest catch of his career, earning praise from not only all of Citi Field, but the Dodgers broadcast booth as well. Jacob DeGrom, probably in a state of both shock and immense relief, can do nothing but give a hats off salute to the outfield that has helped him more this year than ever before.

In the rubber match on Thursday, the Mets offense is as hot as ever. So hot, in fact, that I actually remember that Darin Ruf can be a relevant piece in this lineup. That proficiency against lefties was bound to come in handy at some point. In a 5-3 win that saw the Mets act like the better team in nearly every capacity, while also downing Clayton Kershaw, hot girl summer officially transitions itself into Pennant Chase Fall. While that 3 game lead will likely stay that way for another month, the 100-win pace remains, the Mets are back on an upward trend, and I am as hyped as ever for these last 30 games. After their conversations with this current roster, I can only hope that the old timers are as well.


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