The Mets defeated the Phillies 9-8 last night with a dramatic, 11th inning walk-off home run by Asdrubal Cabrera at Citi Field to maintain a tie for the first wildcard position with the San Francisco Giants. Though I’m pleased they won the game, forgive me fellow Mets fans if the victory doesn’t exactly fill me with optimism in this squad’s ability to advance deep into the postseason. That is if they are fortunate enough to make it there at all.
First of all, my initial reaction to this game was to shut it off long before the 11th inning. After seeing the Mets get swept at home by the Atlanta Braves earlier in the week, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to watching them lose yet another game to a team mired at the bottom of the National League East. The Phillies and the Braves are currently 15 and 29 games under .500 respectively, so winning a home game against the likes of these two teams isn’t anything to brag about in the first place. Secondly, this game shined a bright spotlight yet again on the vulnerability of the bullpen. Besides Addison Reed and, to a lesser extent Jeurys Familia, this bullpen has showed a greater affinity for setting fires than putting them out. Hansel Robles, Fernando Salas, Jim Henderson, and Jerry Blevins, et al, have proved incapable of holding a lead or maintaining tied games on a regular basis. And Familia, their 49-save closer, has not exactly been the epitome of consistency either of late. He has five blown saves this season, two of which have occurred in September. By the way, this also was the first of 64 games this season they won when trailing after the 8th inning.
The third issue I have has been seen by many as a positive this season for the Amazin’s. That being their propensity for scoring runs almost exclusively via the home run. They have a losing record this season in games which they do not hit homers. That also doesn’t bode well for any potential success in the postseason, where the pitching will be elite. If they had a problem hitting the Braves’ Ervin Santana the other night, they can expect much more of the same throughout the postseason. Historically, teams that cannot score in multiple ways don’t do well in MLB’s postseason.
This team has its flaws but is extremely resilient. Manager Terry Collins is an excellent motivator while being a below average strategist. The starters have been successful despite half of them going down with injuries. The team is a walking, talking oxymoron. I wish them all the best. But, the way this baseball season has developed so far, nothing would surprise me.