Bring on the Yankees! Well, maybe that might be a little aggressive, considering how well the Yankees are playing. But the Mets certainly have a better outlook on facing their rivals after beating the Braves in dramatic fashion Sunday night at Citi Field.
An 8-5 come-from-behind win snapped a seven-game losing streak and had the Mets feeling better about themselves as they head into an off-day Monday before facing the Yankees in a two-game Subway Series beginning Tuesday at Citi Field.
The prospects of facing the red-hot Bombers at one time seemed almost catastrophic. The Mets were losing game after game and couldn’t get a decent outing from their bullpen and not enough runs out of their offense.
They looked headed for an eighth-straight loss, trailing 5-3 going into the home half of the eighth inning. But newly named All-Stars Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso showed why they’re going to the Midsummer Classic. After Todd Frazier started the inning with a solo homer, McNeil drove in two runs with a bloop single and Alonso added two more with a sharp liner down the left-field line. Edwin Diaz pitched a scoreless ninth and just like that the Mets didn’t feel like losers anymore.
“These guys don’t give up,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “You lose a bunch in a row and you’re down late, you’ve got to keep fighting and that’s what these guys did.”
How much fight the Mets had left seemed in question before the game. They were on the verge of getting swept for the second straight series and the prospect of facing the Yankees sounded a lot like feeding wounded prey to a hungry lion.
Maybe the Bombers (54-28) could be jet-lagged from their weekend of baseball and sightseeing in London. Maybe they have exhausted all their hits after scoring 29 runs in their two-game sweep of the Red Sox. Maybe having won 13 of their past 14 games would make the Yankees overconfident against the Mets.
But now the Mets don’t need excuses. They have figured out how to win again thanks to their five-run eighth-inning.
“They’re a great team,” Alonso said of the Yankees. “It’s going to be an electric environment here at Citi Field. I can’t wait for that.”
There are three games at home against the Phillies immediately after the Subway Series before the All-Star break and those games will be just as important to the Mets staying relevant.
“We’re glad to be at home before the All-Star break to try to get clicking,” Callaway said. “We don’t need to wait until after the All-Star break. When ended this little tough stretch, more than a tough stretch, but let’s come out Tuesday firing on all cylinders.”
These the two games against the Yankees should tell us if the Mets were just going through a slump or is Sunday’s win just a temporary reprieve from an impending tailspin. It’s hard to tell at this point.
There were some positive signs. Beside three hits from McNeil and J.D. Davis, the Mets also got two hits from Robinson Cano, who has six hits in his past three games. Noah Syndergaard had a relatively positive outing giving up three runs in 5 ²/₃ innings, while reliever Wilmer Font worked two scoreless innings.
Michael Conforto didn’t start after being in a 1-for-20 slump. But he came on as a pinch-hitter and worked out a walk in the eighth and scored on McNeil’s single.
“It was a great team win,” McNeil said. “Hopefully, we keep that up and get on a nice little run.”
That might be asking a lot. But as bad as things have gone for the Mets lately, they haven’t lost their fight. They could have quit Sunday, but didn’t. Bring on the Yankees!