NEW YORK -- Mickey Callaway could not make it to the finish of the Cubs’ game early Wednesday morning, which ended well past 1 a.m. ET. As Callaway drifted off to sleep in his Brooklyn apartment, the Padres walked off on the Cubs, inching the Mets that much closer to a National League Wild Card spot.
With a day game on Thursday, Callaway had no plans to stay up on Wednesday night, either, after his Mets thumped the D-backs, 9-0, to ensure a series win. But be certain that he is scoreboard watching all the same. The Mets are all scoreboard watching in a season that is, once again, becoming rather interesting for them.
“I notice it, obviously, like anybody would,” Callaway said. “But I don’t think we let it affect what we’re going to do. Whether they win or lose, we’ve just got to keep on playing the way we play.”
Right now, the Mets are playing as well as at any point this season. A Mets team that was out of contention, then back in contention, then all but out of it again is peaking at precisely the right time, winning eight of 12 to nudge its way back into the Wild Card conversation. The Mets’ Wednesday victory moved them within two games of the Cubs and Brewers with 17 to play.
The Mets are also realists. They understand the shortcomings of their first 145 games put them in a situation where they need to be near perfect down the stretch -- where taking three of four from the D-backs may not be enough, and securing a series sweep on Thursday looms large.
“You see a couple teams are winning, a couple teams are losing, it’s going up and down,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “It’s that chess match of not worrying about anything else, but worrying about us winning games. That hope is there.”
No one has embodied the Mets’ recent surge better than Frazier, who homered twice on Wednesday and has driven in six runs in his last two games. Jeff McNeil also went deep twice to join Frazier in the 20-homer club. Brandon Nimmo hit one out, as well. The Mets knocked Arizona starter Robbie Ray out of the game in the first inning, and every member of their starting lineup reached base at least once except for Wilson Ramos, who plated the game’s first run on a groundout.
The support was ample for Mets starter Steven Matz, whose most concerning moment came when he walked the bases loaded with no outs in the second. Matz escaped that jam without allowing a run, and he went on to strike out seven D-backs over six shutout innings. That’s just how it’s gone lately for the Mets.
It hasn’t gone that way all season, however, which is why the Mets still find themselves trailing the Cubs and the Brewers in the Wild Card race. Had the Mets not dropped three straight to Chicago late last month, their prospects might look much different. But they did. They need to be close to perfect now. And they’re willing to take on that challenge, without knowing how it might end.
In the interim, they will scoreboard watch, even though the most interesting scoreboard Wednesday night may have been their own. On the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Mets finished with nine runs on 11 hits.
“What a great day, just to have all the first responders on the field, getting to stand between them,” Callaway said. “That was neat in its own right, and then to come up and win a game for them, and to get nine runs on 11 hits, that’s even cooler. A little destiny there for the day.”