10:20 am Jul. 20, 2012
It had been nearly two full calendar weeks since the New York Mets won a baseball game.
Then yesterday afternoon, David Wright, arguably the National League's best player this season, lifted the Mets to a 9-5 victory over the Nationals, keeping his fading teaming from a winless road trip and keeping them in the vicinity of the league's playoff contenders.
During the six-game losing streak that straddled the All Star break, David Wright posted an O.P.S. of .991—right in line with his absurd season mark of 1.029. Yesterday, he provided more of the same.
After Andres Torres reached on an infield single in the first inning, Wright hit a home run against Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez—an All-Star who entered Thursday with a 2.93 E.R.A.—on the very first pitch he saw.
The Nationals wanted no part of Wright the next time he hit, in the third, with runners on second and third and nobody out, walking him intentionally to load the bases. But in the fourth, with the Mets up 6-1, they pitched to Wright with two on, and Wright hit another home run, putting the Mets up, 9-1, and largely ending the suspense.
Or so you might have thought.
But then the Mets' bullpen, which is capable of wringing drama out of even the biggest blowout, allowed Washington to get back to 9-5, with the tying run on deck in both the eighth and ninth innings.
Still, the Mets won, and a win was what they needed to stay 3.5 behind Atlanta for the final wild card spot, and to keep their deficit against the Nationals at seven games heading into the weekend. If they can play well against the Dodgers, their three-game engagement hosting Washington next week could be their last chance to convince general manager Sandy Alderson that they have a realistic shot at postseason play.
That's a big if, of course, especially with Miguel Batista the scheduled Saturday starter, and even Johan Santana, who has pitched to a 5.67 E.R.A. since his no-hitter, throwing on Friday. And no matter who is starting, that worst-in-baseball bullpen is finishing.
But with David Wright around, the task doesn't quite seem impossible.
Elsewhere in New York sports:
The Athletics beat the Yankees, 4-3, as Freddy Garcia posted a mediocre start, followed by sparkling relief from the pitcher who should be starting instead of Garcia, David Phelps.
In dueling media events, Raymond Felton declared himself better than Jeremy Lin, while Lin took the high road in a press conference for the Rockets. Amar'e Stoudemire described the upcoming season as a title or bust. So...
An already-strong offseason could get even better: Andrei Kirilenko is interested in joining the Nets.