The audible chant of “LET’S GO YANKEES!” was not easy to ignore Sunday night on the TV screen or at Citi Field. Mets fans barely mustered to show any emotion as a way of counteracting with Yankees fans, and they couldn’t be bothered to cheer on their own team.
What’s the point when the Mets have not won a game in this homestand and lost 10 in a row at home prior to the final game of the Subway Series in Queens? After losing eight straight and 13 of 15 as a result of a 4-3 loss to the Yankees Saturday night, no one can blame them if they did not even care. To be honest, the Citi Field crowd was more of Yankees fans than Mets fans this weekend.
The Mets finally won a ballgame on a 2-0 shutout against the Yankees in the Subway Series finale. Todd Frazier hit a two-out, two-run home run off Yankees ace Luis Severino in the fifth inning, and Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman and Anthony Swarzak did the rest by shutting down the Yankees. Yet, the win was more of a relief than celebration. Not even being the first team to shutout the Yankees this season can get Mets fans excited.
Mets manager Mickey Callaway was delusional after the game by saying this win against Severino could be a big moment for his struggling team. This reeks of a desperate manager trying to convince himself and his players that the Mets can be a playoff team.
It’s hard to get excited when the Mets have been awful since their 11-1 start. They have not hit well, and their bullpen has been unreliable, which is why the Mets have been 17-33 since. They are going to need more than a win against the Yankees to say they are back. They are going to have to sustain this for a month before anyone can believe again. This is going to be an arduous task, which is why there is no joy in Mudville.
Mets fans are realistic. They knew their team wasn’t that good to begin with, even with that great 11-1 start. They weren’t optimistic heading to the season. The team did not make much moves to get better this offseason, and their hitting and their bullpen does not inspire the fear of God to other teams. A win against the Yankees means nothing when the Mets have so many issues. A win does not change anything.
The Mets are not going to be this bad all year, but they are not going to be a great team. The Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals are much better than the Mets since their lineup features more athleticism and legitimate boppers, and they have good arms in the bullpen. The Mets can’t say these things since they have a lineup that has so many old men. Even releasing Adrian Gonzalez does not change that perception when they employ Jay Bruce, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista and Frazier.
If the Mets are respectable, it will be because of their starting rotation. We all know how great Jacob deGrom is. Noah Syndergaard can be counted on for quality starts. Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz may have figured it out once in for all based on what they have done last month by pitching effectively, and Lugo may have etched his name in the starting rotation after striking out eight (career high) and finishing his six innings of work by retiring his last 13 batters in getting the win against the Yankees Sunday night.
Pitching can make the Mets competitive, but if they can’t hit as they have done in this homestand, it’s going to mean nothing as they demonstrated this week.
If the Mets turn their season around, it will be because Michael Conforto, Amed Rosario and Bruce snap out of their funks. That’s a big if.
Rosario continues to be overmatched against big league pitching based on him striking out 45 times. There has been a report from New York Post’s Joel Sherman that Conforto could be sent to Triple-A Las Vegas to get back on track. With Bruce having plantar fasciitis, this could be a season-long problem for him. This does not exactly encourage the notion that better times are ahead.
This win was a respite to so many awful performances by the Mets. It was refreshing to see the Mets pitchers be locked in against the Yankees. But it was also a reminder that the offense continues to be a problem.
No wonder Mets fans are not beaming with pride after the game. It’s hard to get excited when this win was nothing more than a band-aid to a discouraging season so far.
The Mets may have played themselves out of contention in the NL East. They may have also played themselves out of relevance in the mind of New York sports fans.
The Mets fans are resigned knowing the season is lost altogether.
Avoiding a winless homestand and avoid being swept by the Yankees does not change the narrative for the Mets.