As the Mets began what they hoped would be a long stretch of games unimpeded by weather, COVID-19 cancellations or any other disruptive phenomena, streaks ruled their day. A winning streak. A strikeout streak. A multi-time on-base streak.
All of which came to an end.
The Mets’ run of four consecutive wins, which ended with a 7-2 loss to the Rockies in Game 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader at Coors Field, may have seemed modest. It was nonetheless their longest since 2019, which perhaps says more about the 2020 Mets than about the shortened season that afforded them fewer opportunities.
At any rate, after coming from behind to win, 4-3, in the day half of the doubleheader, the Mets were sorry to see their streak go. They also harbored optimism about the situation, knowing that, unlike in 2020, additional four-game winning streaks almost certainly await them this summer.
“We’ve seen already some responses, positive responses, from pitching more, from playing more, from getting more at-bats,” manager Luis Rojas said, referring to the Mets’ recent spate of postponements. “Playing games is definitely going to get us in better shape. But we’ve got to narrow it down to one at a time.”
The Mets’ streak-buster was, in many ways, a dud of a game from their perspective. Starting pitcher Joey Lucchesi lasted only three innings, allowing all three of his runs in the first. New York kept things tight until reliever Jacob Barnes served up a three-run homer to Josh Fuentes in the fifth, which provided the final margin.
Along the way, the Mets struggled to mount any sort of consistent offense, scoring both of their runs during a fourth-inning rally. Not coincidentally, that was the only inning in which leadoff man Brandon Nimmo, who entered the night having reached base multiple times in each of his first nine games, made it safely to first. Nimmo’s streak was even more impressive given that four of New York's first 10 games came in seven-inning doubleheaders, offering him fewer opportunities to reach base. But such is the nature of streaks in baseball. Sometimes, luck can be enough to bust them.
Other times, it’s an imperfect pitch that does the trick. In the day half of the doubleheader, Jacob deGrom struck out nine batters in a row, coming within one punchout of Tom Seaver’s 51-year-old record. Unaware of Seaver’s record while he was on the mound, deGrom said his attitude in attacking hitters was “business as usual,” which bodes well for New York's continued ability to string together winning streaks. With deGrom at his best, the Mets always have a chance to be at their best as well.
“We’ll hopefully get this thing rolling,” deGrom said.
So yes, over their next 152 games, the Mets expect to have many more four-game winning streaks, not to mention at least a few that stretch well beyond a quartet. Back in 2019, when this group of young hitters first gelled into the beginnings of a consistent unit, the Mets reeled off late-season winning streaks of seven and eight games, winning 15 of 16 overall. Although that wasn’t quite enough to vault the Mets into the postseason, they hoped it would portend better things for '20. When it didn’t, the Mets revamped their entire team from the top down, changing their ownership, their front office and nearly half their 40-man roster.
Now, they’re ready to win consistently again. Their most significant problem has been a lack of play, due to three games postponed because of COVID-19 issues in Washington, three more washed away by rain in New York and another snowed out in Denver. Finally back on the field on Saturday, the Mets struggled to mount a consistent attack, recording multiple hits only four times in 14 innings.
“It’s kind of been like Spring Training -- play one game, off the next day, play two, off the next day, play three, off,” said shortstop Francisco Lindor, whose RBI single gave the Mets the lead in the final inning of Game 1. “It kind of feels like Spring Training, except the games do matter.”
Lindor laughed as he remembered that the Mets have another scheduled off-day on Monday, leading into a string of six consecutive games next week. Before their two most recent weather postponements, many Mets hitters appeared to be finding some consistency.
They firmly believe a more regular routine will help them begin streaking once again.
“We’re looking forward to that,” Rojas said. “One by one is the approach.”