PHOENIX -- For weeks, negativity overwhelmed the Mets. Even positive signs came complete with asterisks, as the Mets kept losing and losing and losing and losing.
Then came this week in the desert, and more specifically the catharsis that occurred Thursday at Chase Field. To list all the encouraging features of the Mets’ 9-0 win over the D-backs would be to risk running out of space on the internet. To catalogue the auspiciousness of this five-game winning streak would require more time than most have available.
It would be both easy and appropriate to harp on rookie catcher Francisco Alvarez, who has homered in four of his last five games, or Carlos Carrasco, who delivered his finest outing of the season (and it wasn’t close), or Pete Alonso, who continued prepping for the Home Run Derby with his 26th long ball. Or perhaps it would be most apt to focus on the embodiment of this Mets turnaround, Francisco Lindor, who was so sick in the hours leading up to Wednesday’s game that he required intravenous fluids just to take the field.
Lindor managed to play all nine innings that night, then returned the following evening to go 5-for-5 with two triples and a homer. He became the first Mets player to triple twice in a five-hit effort, and only the third Major Leaguer to do so this century.
He may also be the first to accomplish that feat after feeling physically gutted -- an appropriate metaphor for his team just days ago.
“We’re going to make something out of [this season],” Lindor said afterward. “The question becomes how deep we’re going to go.”
With a 41-46 record, the Mets aren’t quite to the point where they can forecast a playoff berth with any level of confidence. But they’re in far better shape than they were a week ago, and they’re in far better spirits, too. Even manager Buck Showalter, who likes to deliver a public front of steadiness, admitted that his players feel the emotional swings of a season. Behind closed doors, Showalter hinted, the Mets are vibing as confidently as they have in a while.
As they sat and ate in the postgame clubhouse Thursday, a group of Mets watched highlights from their win flash on television. Among them:
- Lindor’s five-hit game, which included triples in the first and third innings, a single in the fourth and a homer in the sixth. Two innings later, Lindor came to the plate trying to rip a double down the right-field line… and he nearly did, pulling a ball just foul. Later in the at-bat, Lindor lined a pitch into right field and, despite a wide turn, had to settle for a single. He and Joe Christopher are the only Mets players to triple twice and homer in the same game.
- Alonso’s 26th homer in the first inning, followed by his RBI single in the third. On both occasions, the team's RBI leader drove home Lindor.
- Alvarez’s third home run in as many days and his fourth in five games, putting him on pace for 30 -- a preposterous number for a catcher who didn’t even make the Mets’ Opening Day roster. Alvarez became the third AL/NL backstop to hit at least 16 home runs in a season before his 22nd birthday, joining Johnny Bench and Darrell Porter. He also became the center of a benches-clearing incident, staring down José Ruiz after the D-backs pitcher hit him with a fastball in the seventh. Said Alvarez, through an interpreter: “If they did it on purpose, if they did it to make me feel bad, what they should do is strike me out.”
- The finest performance of Carrasco’s season as measured by Game Score, a statistic used to gauge the overall quality of a start. Pitching with his rotation job on the line, Carrasco delivered eight shutout innings with four strikeouts and a walk. He allowed just three hits and kept his pitch count low enough that Showalter considered bringing him back for the ninth. (Ultimately, Trevor Gott nailed down the final three outs).
Combined, those contributions allowed the Mets to match their longest winning streak of the season, with a suddenly resurgent Justin Verlander slated to start Friday’s series opener against the Padres. For the Mets, of course, the work isn’t finished. The hole is still deep. But as Alvarez put things, “it feels better because we’re winning -- obviously.”
“We have a really good team,” Lindor said. “Yeah, we have ups and downs, and in the first half, it seems like we had more downs than ups. Hopefully we can turn it around to have more ups than downs in the second half.”