Mets take one big step back against the Braves after two steps forward in Philadelphia

The Mets did it again. Win another game in dramatic, come-from-behind fashion? No, that is not what they did. What they did do was reel us all in again and make us think for a minute that they were destined for more than just 10th place in the National League before getting blown out in a must-win game.

On Friday night at Citi Field, the Mets fell behind the Braves 12-0 in four innings and went on to lose 15-2. Maybe you’re one of those fans who saw this coming. Maybe you felt nothing after the consecutive comeback wins in Philadelphia. Maybe your heart isn’t broken after seeing another potential winning streak get uprooted before it gets an honest chance to grow. If so, I feel bad for you even though I’m the one who believed like an idiot.

Being a baseball fan, and especially being a Mets fan, is all about believing in the improbable. I didn’t care that the Mets had burned me before and that Luis Rojas was showing no sense of urgency when it came to subbing out his starting pitchers. Every big hit, every shutdown inning, and every time Edwin Diaz didn’t completely crap the bed was another sign that the Mets were going to make a run. When that hope gets wiped out like it did last night, I just go to looking for signs again.

Besides, I said yesterday that the Mets needed to go 8-2 in their final 10 games to make the playoffs. Now they just need to go 8-1 in nine games. Shouldn’t be a problem with two more games against Atlanta coming up! At least we won’t need to see Steven Matz pitch for the rest of the weekend. He started on Friday night and gave up six runs in 2.2 innings before giving way to Franklyn Kilome, who gave up six more in only 1.1 innings.

It’s been tough to watch Matz struggle this season, but there’s reason to believe he can bounce back in his final arbitration season in 2021. His strikeout rate is higher than it’s ever been before, and he’s not walking too many batters. The problem is that Matz’s fly ball rate and home runs per fly ball have both spiked. It’s gotten so bad that one third of the fly balls hit off of Matz are leaving the yard, so don’t write him off as a 2021 starter just yet.

So what do the standings look like now? The Reds, Cardinals, and Giants are all tied with .500 records for the final NL playoff spot, but Cincinnati and St. Louis are also battling for second place in the Central. One of those teams, or perhaps Milwaukee, will get in as one of the Central’s two representatives. The other will have to battle in the mosh pit for that last wild card spot. The Mets at 23-28 are 2.5 games behind the .500 clubs and 1.5 games behind the Brewers.

The moral of the story is to just keep winning. All of these teams have flaws and are capable of laying eggs like the Mets do every other night. What makes the Mets so special that they are suddenly going to roll off some wins against first place squads like Atlanta and Tampa Bay? Nothing. That’s where the hope comes in.

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