Image: USA Today
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.
September 2nd-5th-Home Series vs. Washington Nationals (84-48 Pre-Series)
If Times Square is considered the Crossroads of the World, then the Woodside Train Station should be considered the Crossroads of Labor Day Weekend. As I head down to the LIRR platform, I find myself ducking and weaving through kids in Mark Canha jerseys (accompanied by their parents with great fashion sense), travelers like myself headed out East, and fluorescently dressed 20-somethings on their way to E-Zoo. Hopping on the 4 PM eastbound, I am lucky enough to get home just in time for the first pitch of a weekend set against the Nats, watching from the same couch where I watched about 120 games per year from 2012-2016. Tough times.
As August gives way to September and the Race for the Pennant officially begins, the Mets find themselves at a crossroads of their own. With rosters expanding, where will the Mets look to plug their holes, and where will they look to simply improve what they've already got? In terms of improving externally, the obvious answer is the bullpen, which the Mets attempt to do by calling up Adonis Medina and Bryce Montes de Oca from Syracuse. Medina was solid in the first half this year, earning his first career save against the Dodgers, so hopefully he'll be a high-caliber call-up over these final 30 games.
In terms of where the Mets left things as is, I think this weekend was a telling test of what looks good, and what still is frustratingly ineffective. First, there's the situation at 3rd base. With an upcoming thumb surgery, it looks like Brett Baty's 2022 is over, with Eduardo Escobar resuming full-time duty in the left infield in place of the young Texan. Deven Marrero was called up from Syracuse as backup (sorry Mark Vientos), but after Escobar's 3 RBI performance on Friday, I don't think we'll be seeing much from the 32-year-old. In the 2nd inning, Escobar helped the Mets carry over some of the raw power we saw against LA earlier in the week, smashing one into deep center field off of a low Josiah Gray fastball. While David Peterson fizzled out late into his 5.1 innings to give the Nats a chance to tie it at 2, the rest of the Mets lineup rattled Washington's relievers for 4 runs in the 6th, giving my weekend a nice early boost.
Despite the offense cooking on Friday, the DH spot, another position the Mets have sat on for a while, really struggled as the weekend chugged on, and with some trouble across almost the entire pitching staff, Alonso and Vogelbach going a combined 1-for-8 in the DH could really be felt. For a team that focused so hard on bolstering themselves on offense, it really sucks to see them slink back into the same lineup troubles that plagued them in the Spring. Speaking of repeating troubles, Max Scherzer was walked into the tunnel after allowing just 1 run over 6 innings, leaving those watching concerned that he may have re-aggravated something in his side. According to Max and Buck in the postgame, while there was some fatigue, pulling Scherzer was more of a preventative measure than anything IL-worthy. Of course, with Scherzer out and reliance now on the bullpen, Adonis Medina allows a 5-run rally in the 9th inning to ensure a 7-1 Nats victory before getting booed off the mound. While yeah, a 5-run rally is a 5-run rally, the hole in the bottom of the 9th wouldn't have been so bad had Scherzer gotten some early run support.
After spending a bit more than I wanted to at the hometown bars, I'm on the LIE back to Astoria. I took some time while packing to watch the rubber match, only to see another ugly 7-1 loss. On Monday morning, I awake to the news that the holiday weekend finale against the Pirates has been cancelled due to a rainstorm that never ends up passing through, leaving Starling Marte to eat a massive stack of pancakes in his hotel room, and Howie Rose to live Tweet his boredom.
After dropping a gimme series while the Braves swept the Marlins, the Met's lead on the division now sits at 1 game. With 27 left to play, and a relatively easy stretch on the way, I'm still not ready to fall back into the usual September gloom that comes with following this team, but instead I sit here and ask myself; how much more can this team do for a little security? From July 1st to Labor Day (September 5th), the Mets have posted a record of 38-21. A respectful margin, but the Braves have done everything they can to dash any hope of an early call to the Division by going 40-18 in the same timespan. At this point, we know what's good, we know what's bad. For the next 27 games, Mets fans just gotta hope the former outweighs the latter, but no matter what happens in the next 2 months, I just hope the Mets can give me 1 thing;
Plenty of time before my main focus is on the Jets.