DENVER -- By late Saturday night, the vibe around the Mets was relatively dour. The team had split a doubleheader against the Rockies in precisely the wrong way -- a win, followed by a loss -- to engender good feelings. They were all eager, in Buck Showalter’s words, to return to their hotels, “go pack, get a little sleep, and come back and do it again.”
These Mets seem uniquely qualified to do just that: shrug it off, brush it away and turn the page. Baseball players speak in such clichés all the time. The Mets actually live them; when they returned to Coors Field on Sunday to beat the Rockies, 2-0, they won their 14th consecutive game following a loss -- the longest streak in the Majors in nearly a decade.
“We just come ready to play every day,” said starter Taijuan Walker, who became the first pitcher to throw at least seven shutout innings at Coors this season. "[Saturday] was a really long day. For the guys to show up and play really good defense and get the timely hits and runs that we needed just says a lot about us.”
How the Mets have rebounded following losses says perhaps more about them than any other statistic. Not since the 2011 Phillies has a team won 14 consecutive games after a loss, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Mets are 14-1 total in those situations; they haven’t lost two in a row since their fourth and fifth games of the season.
Ask players in the clubhouse why this has been, and the answers tend to differ. Walker represents one significant part of the equation: starting pitching. While injuries to Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer and Tylor Megill have weakened the rotation, Walker and others have still managed to keep that unit in the Top 10 in ERA in the Majors all season. Sunday, Walker turned one of the rarest tricks of all, preventing the Rockies from recording a single extra-base hit in their home ballpark -- something that’s happened just five times over the past five years.
But this run of excellence hasn’t just been about starting pitching, or hitting, or any other on-field aspect. Showalter credited the Mets’ mental edge, calling them “a pretty steady mental team.”
“They don’t get into that ‘sky is falling’ [mentality],” Showalter explained. “It’s tough, because it’s not just sports. It’s kind of [modern] society that we all want to know about something before it happens, so we’re always saying, ‘This happened, so that might happen.’ They don’t live in that world. I hope it continues.”
It’s worth noting that just as the Mets haven’t constructed any losing streaks, they also haven’t strung together any significant winning streaks. Despite its 28-15 record and first-place standing in the NL East, the club has yet to win more than three games in a row -- a feat it has accomplished five times. But the Mets haven’t needed to do so, because they essentially never follow a loss with another loss. That has allowed New York to go 11-1-1 in series so far this season.
Sunday, the Mets grabbed another series victory thanks to a major contribution from Walker, as well as smaller achievements of note. Brandon Nimmo’s hustle from first to third on a fielding error set up the game’s first run, which Francisco Lindor drove home on a single. Luis Guillorme, who has played his way into the starting lineup more often than not, collected two hits. Closer Edwin Díaz locked down another ninth inning without issue, prompting Showalter to say that “nobody takes for granted what Edwin is doing.”
Such are the ingredients of a winning streak, to be certain. They can also be the preventative measures needed to stave off losing streaks before they happen.
“Nobody cares about the past,” Lindor explained. “When we show up tomorrow in San Francisco, nobody cares about what we did today. Enjoy today, celebrate it, have fun -- happy flight. Once you get to San Francisco, turn the page. That’s kind of how we’ve been doing it every single day.”