New York Mets Right in Thick of Race After May
The New York Mets finally have a day off today after playing 20 consecutive games to end the month of May, and we will take full advantage of that off day to look back on what the Mets have accomplished this month. The Mets, who went 15-13 in the month of May, now sit at 28-23 for the season and are a game and a half behind the Washington Nationals for first place in division. They also find themselves one game behind the Miami Marlins for the Wild Card lead (now is about the time to begin to think about it) and sitting one-half game ahead of the Atlanta Braves and a pile of other teams for the second Wild card position.
The Mets were able to put up a strong showing in May in spite of a number of injuries. The team, which was already without outfielder Jason Bay and starter Mike Pelfrey, lost shortstops Ruben Tejada (Quadriceps) and Ronny Cedeno (calf) to injury along with starting catcher Josh Thole (concussion). Justin Turner also sprained his ankle on Memorial Day and will be out a minimum of two to three weeks, which brings the Mets down to their fourth string shortstop, Omar Quintanilla. Miguel Batista, who filled in for Chris Schwinden after several ineffective outings, also is injured and trying to make his way back.
So how did the Mets manage to finish above .500 for the month with all of those injuries? They have several people to thank, including third baseman David Wright. Wright, putting up a performance that could garner him MVP consideration if the Mets keep winning, hit .347 this month with 13 doubles, two home runs, and 16 RBI. He provided punch for the lineup that not many others have been providing as Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy, and Andres Torres have been battling through slumps. Wright, whose .365 batting average places him second in the National League behind Melky Cabrera, has also received help from outfielders Scott Hairston (.283, four home runs and 14 RBI), Lucas Duda (.258, three homers, 13 RBI) and Mike Baxter (.341 batting average with 10 runs scored this month).
The Mets also received several great pitching performances from R.A. Dickey (4-0 and a 1.83 ERA in May) and Johan Santana (2-0, 3.09 ERA) to help boost their starting pitching staff. Unfortunately for the Mets, pretty much their entire bullpen (save Tim Byrdak) struggled this month. Frank Francisco nearly lost his closer’s role with a string of blown saves, including two in a row that cost the Mets a series win in Miami. Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez, and Bobby Parnell have all had their struggles as the bullpen’s ERA for the season has swelled all the way up to 5.83. Manny Acosta didn’t even survive the month of May as he was waived following a string of horrendous outings.
The Mets have managed to hang around in the race despite being outscored by 24 runs so far this season. This is largely due to their knack for the comeback and their 9-5 record in one run games, both marks of a tough team. Manager Terry Collins has kept the team focused on the prize in spite of a number of injuries, which is a credit to the resiliency of the players. They should get some players back in the coming weeks (Thole is scheduled to be activated on Friday with Miguel Batista on track for early next week) and they will need every one of them as the Mets have a rough schedule ahead of them in June.
The Mets are in the midst of a stretch where they face eight straight series against teams with winning records. After losing the first of these series with the Philadelphia Phillies, the Mets still have to deal with the St. Louis Cardinals (four games), Washington Nationals (three road games), New York Yankees (twice), Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles, and Cincinnati Reds. The Mets will need to solve their bullpen issues and find some people to contribute on offense besides David Wright to survive this stretch of games. If the Mets can go 12-9 in these series that will put them at 40-32, eight games over .500 and in a position to make a run in the second half. A lot of key divisional games await the Mets after this month ends, so they need to keep their heads above water during this grueling stretch to keep hope alive for the season’s second half.
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