The Mets of last season would have found a way to lose Monday night’s series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals after going down 2-0 in the bottom of the eighth. Actually, most Mets teams that you or I have known probably would have found a way to lose it.
But this isn’t your childhood Mets or your father’s Mets or your grandfather’s Mets. This is something entirely different.
Adults are running the show. Responsible, experienced, level-headed adults who by no means are partaking in their first rodeo.
For the most part, first-year manager Buck Showalter and his three decades of baseball knowledge are pressing all the right buttons and getting the most out of a team that looks as though they’ll run through a brick wall for the wily veteran.
That’s the only way you could properly describe the Mets’ come back from the dead in the ninth inning, plating five runs in wild fashion — all of them scoring with two outs in the frame with help from some shoddy Cardinals defense.
But good teams find ways to win ballgames and that’s exactly what the Mets are doing, who are going all out even when the stakes don’t appear as high in April. That’s why you saw guys going all out of the batter’s box like Mark Canha and Dominic Smith did to force defensive lapses from Nolan Arenado at third — his error scoring Eduardo Escobar from second — and Giovanny Gallegos, who was slow to leave the mound to cover first, allowing Smith to beat it out with a desperate head-first lunge for the bag to score two and give the Mets the lead.
“I think our guys are real mature about knowing that this was a great night for the organization,” Showalter said. “I think they know there’s a lot of baseball and a lot of ups and downs along the way that we have to be ready for but these are games that you can reach back for and remember why you do all this.”
Entering the second game of the St. Louis series on Tuesday night, the Mets lead Major League Baseball with 13 wins (13-5 record) with an offense that ranks seventh with 4.78 runs scored per game and a team ERA that ranks fourth at 2.74.
“We’re just playing good team baseball. Everybody has a hand in this, everybody has a hand in doing something for the team,” Max Scherzer, who spun a seven-inning gem in which he allowed just two hits without conceding a run on Monday, said. “We have a great clubhouse right now and we’re just in the flow of things. We’ve come out of the gates pretty well but we haven’t won anything yet.
“April is April but things get hairy in the next few months and that’s when we’ll get tested. It’s good to get tested and to come in here and compete against them really well.”
That’s what balance is all about: Having the wherewithal to enjoy special moments that come during the season but never losing sight of the long view.
What a difference competent leadership makes.