Logan Verrett on the mound. The Phillies hitting against him. The newly energized Mets offense batting against Vince Velasquez, who we all knew was due for some bad luck.
Was there ever any doubt?
In terms of win probability, there was very little — the Mets scored two in the bottom of the first, three in the third, and added more and more runs as the game went on. From the beginning, we were in the driver’s seat.
And yet, even more important was how the game felt. Won, over and done with, is how it felt. After the runs in the first, relatively. After the extra scoring in the third, surely. And when Walker started homering and the bullpen started working, it was done.
We’re the Mets, the defending National League champions. They’re the Phillies. Maybe it’ll be their time in a few years.
Right now, it’s ours. And after an all-too-brief stretch during which it seemed that we’d lost our way, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve found it again.
Since being 2-5, we’re 5-1, back over .500, and rolling forward once again looking like the playoff team that I never lost faith that we were. We’re hitting home runs left and right — Neil Walker, it seems, is unwilling to allow the .422-hitting Daniel Murphy to better him — and we’re scoring to go with it.
As an aside, I don’t buy the argument that scoring via the home run is somehow a negative. We’ll hit home runs and score, or we’ll hit singles and doubles and we’ll score; we’ve got a hell of an offense either way, and home runs don’t change that.
Verrett did his job, then Jim Henderson — he of the 1.69 E.R.A. and the stewardship of part one of the Bridge to Familia — did his, and then Montero failed briefly to do his, and then Robles fixed it all up. Sure, it was the Phillies’ borderline AAA lineup, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a peach of a pitching performance.
And the hitting…isn’t it great? From Conforto getting fooled on a curve and still poking it over the fence in the first, to Walker doing double duty, to Cespedes and Duda staying hot, to Granderson finally getting going. It’s the luck we promised would come back, back when every ground ball we gave up was finding a whole and every popup was finding the grass. “Our fortunes will turn,” we said, and lo and behold, they’ve done just that. In these moments, it’s reassuring, rather than mildly depressing, that baseball is governed by the laws of statistics, that, despite how things sometimes seem, do not favor the rest of the N.L. East over us.
So, let’s keep it up, is all I can say. Let’s sweep the Phillies, and let’s do the same to the Braves, with a Matt Harvey who may well have found himself and a Steven Matz who is just beginning to do so and a Jacob deGrom who, after an extended rest for the birth and subsequent healthy recovery of his son, may have done the same as well. DeGrom gave up one run in six innings in the home opener, pitching on a painful lat muscle that has since healed, with diminished velocity that should return with every start. It’s hard to imagine him moving anywhere but up.
And maybe, just maybe, we can start to enjoy the 2016 season for everything that we didn’t have until late in 2015. Winning games that we’re supposed to win. The comfort of having an ace on the mound four or five days a week and knowing that a game is ours to lose. The reassuring steadiness of our offense, which, even if we don’t maintain this torrid pace of output, shouldn’t slump back to anything like what we saw in the four consecutive losses that already seem a lifetime ago.
Really — we can enjoy it. It’s been a long time since we’ve been at the beginning of a season with a team as good as this, with plenty of time to enjoy winning without worrying about October. Let’s just have some fun with this one — until we get to Summer and beyond, there’s no reason to worry about catching — or holding off — the Nationals, not if we keep winning like, at this point, we’ve all seen that we can.
And what’s not to enjoy? We’ve got Colón tomorrow. Let’s see if he can get in on the Citizen’s Bank Park hitting bug.