New York Mets manager Luis Rojas will continue to put on a hopeful facade when evaluating his team chances down the stretch — but this week’s series against the St. Louis Cardinals sure felt like the final nail in the coffin that is 2021.
After taking two of three from the crosstown-rival Yankees to move within three games of the final National League Wild Card spot, the Mets had a chance to make an even larger push against one of the teams ahead of them in the standings. Instead, listlessness paired with some bizarre decision-making resulted in the Cardinals walking out of Queens with a sweep.
Now the Mets are five games out of a Wild Card spot with 15 games to play; a mountain that looks much too steep to climb.
“It’s tough to get swept and it’s tough to lose games to teams you’re fighting for a spot with,” Rojas said. “We still have a chance and it’s real. I think we can take advantage of a day off [Friday], which is needed. We had a lot of long games lately and I think it’s going to come in handy — guys getting some rest — and then come in and play the Phillies. We just have to keep moving forward.”
This is usually the part where Mets fans begin to roll their eyes, but it’s the only sort of message a manager can put forth when his team isn’t mathematically eliminated just yet.
The Phillies, who are two games ahead of the Mets in both the Wild Card and for second place in the National League East — which New York trails by 5.5 games — come to Flushing having won just four of their last 10 games.
Call it a must-win series, but that’s exactly what the last handful have been and the Mets just haven’t had enough to take advantage.
“We just have to go out there and play one day at a time. Take care of the Phillies and start with that,” Jeff McNeil said. “We have to get real hot so hopefully, we can do that.
“Things haven’t clicked like we wanted to. We were in first place for a while. It was positive, then things slipped a little bit, and we’re fighting for our lives now.”