Mets knack of ‘staying positive’ helping to fuel turnaround, 5-game win streak

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Mets Guardians 5-19-23 Gary Sanchez
New York Mets catcher Gary Sanchez (33) celebrates with his teammates after closing the ninth inning of the opener of a split doubleheader baseball game against the Cleveland Guardians, Sunday, May 21, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

QUEENS — This was the version of the New York Mets that Justin Verlander expected to see when he signed on with a two-year, $86.6 million contract over the winter. 

Less than a week after he was hammered for six runs on eight hits on May 16 against the Tampa Bay Rays in an 8-5 loss where he admitted that the then-20-23 Mets — who had lost 16 of their previous 22 games — should have “come out of the chute a little better than this,” Verlander lifted the Mets to their fifth consecutive win on Sunday night in a 2-1 victory over the Cleveland Guardians to clinch a doubleheader and three-game-series sweep.

The 40-year-old right-hander went eight innings, allowing just one run on three hits with five strikeouts and no walks to follow up a six-inning scoreless gem by co-ace Max Scherzer just hours before on Sunday afternoon in what became another dramatic 5-4 Mets win.

“We all know what Max is capable of and I’m hoping to find my groove,” Verlander said. “That’s how you’d draw it up on a day like today.”

Justin Verlander Mets
New York Mets starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) throws against the Cleveland Guardians during the first inning of the second baseball game of a split doubleheader, Sunday, May 21, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

Not only is the Mets’ starting rotation finally showing signs of breaking out — four of the last five games have seen starters go at least six innings — but the offense is waking up.

Over their last six games, in which they’ve gone 6-2, New York has averaged 5.5 runs per game compared to the previous 19 games in which they averaged just over three per night.

After sinking to as low as fourth in the division, the Mets are back in second place and five games behind the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves having gained 1.5 games over the last five nights — and it’s all because they’ve stayed the course.

“I’d like to say it’s vastly different, but these guys have done an incredible job of staying positive,” Verlander said. “That’s one of the great things about having a lot of veterans and some great leadership. These guys know what 162 games look like and know there’s going to be ebbs and flows…

“I give a ton of credit to these guys… there’s been a ton of positive talk in the locker room constantly. It’s difficult. It always is when things aren’t going well but I give a ton of praise to the guys in this locker room.”

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