WASHINGTON — Mickey Callaway was pleased by what he saw out of his baseball team this weekend. He was happy with its resilience even on a night, like this one, when there were too many strikeouts, too many defensive plays that weren’t made, maybe a lapse or two on the basepaths.
He was happy to see his star slugger, Yoenis Cespedes, deliver the sweep-clinching hit, a 12th-inning flare that drove in Juan Lagares with the winning run in a 6-5 victory. He was happy to see Jacob Rhame, with all of 12 appearances as a big-leaguer, retire the Nats in the bottom of that inning to record his first career save.
And, sure, he was delighted to sweep the Nationals.
But he wasn’t about to get carried away.
“I would have to guess they’re over there knowing there’s a ton of season left,” the manager of the Mets said. “And that they have a really good team.”
Sooner or later that team is going to get Daniel Murphy back in the fold, and it will be a much different team than the one that the Mets saw this weekend. But as the Mets learned all too well last year: The games you aren’t at full strength count every bit as much as the ones when you are. If you’re smart, you take advantage.
Yoenis Cespedes’ RBI single in 12th propels Mets to sweep of Nats
WASHINGTON — The scoreboard painted an ugly picture for the…
The Mets, they took advantage.
And they feel awfully good about themselves after eight games and seven wins, as well they should. If the manager wasn’t about to seek a concession speech from the Nats, the Mets themselves were going to take a few minutes and savor what they’d done before boarding a plane to Miami.
“That’s big time,” said Seth Lugo, who brilliantly escaped trouble in the ninth inning by striking out Michael A. Taylor and Pedro Severino after walking the bases loaded (two intentionally, one not) and picked up the win.
“It’s huge,” said Matt Harvey, who was up-and-down in a five-inning stint starting the game and admitted he wants to see more out of himself than he was able to give Sunday night. “Coming in here, doing what we did, that’s incredibly important. It shows a lot about this team.”
“We’re pretty good,” Rhame told Wayne Randazzo on the WOR radio postgame show, and if that’s the simplest takeaway, it also might be the most telling right now. The Mets believe they’re good, and should believe they’re good because across these first eight games they have been good — very good.
Nobody, inside the clubhouse or out, expects they will play .875 ball all season, but that’s really beside the point. There may not have been a team in baseball that needed to answer the bell with authority as much as the Mets. And they’ve done just that. They’ve won from behind. They’ve won from ahead. They’ve pitched well. They’ve hit well.
Mickey CallawayRon Sachs / CNP
It’s a good place to start.
But it’s only a start. The manager will make sure that message gets across.
“They’re a great team, great lineup, great pitching,” Callaway said of the Nationals. “Any games we can win against them, that’s a plus.”
The most encouraging thing about what the Mets are doing right now is that it’s a roster-wide grind. You probably didn’t envision a box score with Lugo getting a win and Rhame a save, certainly not this early in the season. You probably didn’t think Adrian Gonzalez was primed to turn back the clock, either, yet that’s what he did, turning the game upside-down with one swing of his bat.
Quintessential inning, too. Up 2-0, Tanner Roark got the first two outs of the third, then walked Jay Bruce, walked Todd Frazier, and walked Asdrubal Cabrera. He’d made Gonzalez look decrepit with fastballs just an inning earlier, and tried to sneak another one by him on his hands. He didn’t. Gonzalez crushed it, and the sizeable Mets contingent of the 21,579 inside Nationals Park were heard for the first time.
But not for the last.
“I’m proud of the guys,” Callaway said. “It’s clear they’re never going to give up, and will keep playing the right way.”
He’s right, there’s still a ton of season left. But the sliver we’ve seen so far? Maybe young Jacob Rhame is right. Maybe they really are pretty good.