Following the Mets’ getaway-day, rubber-game victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday, they held a 3.5-game lead atop the NL East for the first time since before the All-Star break, having won three of their last four games and putting a dreary start to the second half of the season with a series loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates well into the rearview mirror.
The last six games on the road in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati have created a disparity in the schedule split between home and road games. They’ve played 51 games away from Citi Field compared to just 42 within their friendly confines in Queens. But now they have a chance to make up for it — and put some more space between them and the rest of the division.
The Mets are entering a season-long 11-game homestand beginning on Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays — a three-game series that is followed by five against the Atlanta Braves and three against the Reds.
In those 42 home games, the Mets are 28-14 with a .667 win percentage that ranks third-best in the majors.
Needless to say, they’re excited to get some time back at Citi Field.
“I feel like we’ve been playing on the road all year,” Mets outfielder Dominic Smith said. “It’s a grind on the road… I love the fans to death… when you finally get to go home and can feed off the crowd and energy at home, it’s really dope… we’re looking to play well.”
“We love playing at home,” utility infielder Luis Guillorme added. “The crowds that we have, the way they stay in the games, it’s always a great time when we have this many games at home.”
Even more promising for the Mets is that their offense is putting up numbers that haven’t been seen all season.
Before the All-Star break, the Mets’ 3.72 runs per game ranked 29th in Major League Baseball. In their first six games of the second half, the Mets are averaging 6.67 runs per game, which is third-best in baseball. The influx of offense has been sparked by four of their six games featuring at least seven runs scored, including 15 against the Reds on Monday night.
“We talked about this offense that it was going to click,” manager Luis Rojas said. “It’s clicking right now…guys are going to rotate contributing for this offense… The connection with the hitters that we have is going to create runs for us.
It was on perfect display during the third inning of Wednesday’s 7-0 win over Cincinnati. Brandon Nimmo walked before Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso singled, paving the way for Smith’s grand slam to put the Mets out of sight.
“It’s the best I’ve seen it in terms of that connection,” Rojas continued. “I think it’s been a blend of things. The hitting coaches do a very good job preparing them for things. Different guys on the team have been standing up in the hitter’s meeting and just saying something about who we are. What’s our identity? That’s given the guys a perspective.
“I want to see that consistency going so we can back up our pitchers.”