This week's sign of the apocalypse: The Mets have to win a game.
If the Mets don't win this afternoon, they will have been swept by their closest pursuers. They will still be in first, they will lead the Phillies by two games and they will enter September no worse than ahead of the pack. But a five-game losing streak is no springboard for a trip to Turner Field.
Must-win games are Game Six  and such. This isn't that. But the Mets really oughta win today. I don't mean that in the betting line sense. I mean they would do themselves a world of good by scoring more runs than the Phillies and concomitantly surrendering fewer. They might remember the sensation from the last time El Duque pitched . It wasn't really more than five days ago. It just seems like it.
Time to stop pussyfooting around. Lead by four, not by two. Go to Atlanta on a one-game winning streak, not amid unfolding disaster. Play like the team we know you are.
There. That's the pep talk. I'll most likely be finding out after the fact whether it's done any good, for I am off to do a little advance scouting. I've left a couple of heat & eat posts in the fridge for the weekend. Just take 'em out, stick 'em in the microwave and dig in.
Good advice as to how to handle the Phillies and Braves.