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Dare to Daydream

Your meaningful games in September [1] update:

The Mets are officially better than they were the last two years — they won their 75th game of the year [2] tonight.

For the moment at least they’re better than the Marlins, though tied in the lost column.

Can they finish with a winning record after the All-Star break? They’ll need to go 4-3, which seems possible. Taking the final game from Atlanta, winning one against Washington and then taking two of three from Houston would do it.

Can they finish at .500 or better? They’ll need to go 6-1, which seems unlikely.

But perhaps they can catch the Braves — Atlanta somehow is 76-78, just 1.5 games ahead of us.

Which is a useful bit of perspective. The Mets are mediocre and beset with payroll and legal issues, but nobody expected much of them. The Braves were supposed to be contenders, and just fleeced suburban taxpayers for a new baseball palace to replace the not obviously flawed one they already have. They were tied with the Nats for first on July 20, but have gone 22-34 since then, and tonight they played with all the ardor of a mall cop on the first smoke break of a hot day. The lone exception was Freddie Freeman [3], who laced a misplaced Josh Edgin [4] slider up the middle, but then that’s what Freddie Freeman does.

On the Metsian side, kudos to Jon Niese [5], whose performance even I couldn’t criticize. A tip of the cap to Carlos Torres [6], continuing his run of terrific outings. A shrug and a grin for Lucas Duda [7], whose first-base play skirted disaster that never quite arrived: The final play saw Duda stumble over a ball he should have fielded cleanly, somehow boot it to Wilmer Flores [8], then reverse back to the bag in time for the final out. Jenrry Mejia [9]‘s subdued, stompless celebration was probably the product of a managerial talking-to, but Jenrry might also have been wondering how the Mets had survived that one.

And a final tip of the cap to Dilson Herrera [10], probably done for the year after straining a quad legging out an infield hit, which followed a two-run homer early in the game. It’s a shame to see him go, but he’ll be back — probably by next June and for keeps.

So, tomorrow: A Met win would give them the season series over Atlanta, 10-9. It would get them a game closer to their admittedly less-than-lofty goals. It would inflict more pain on the Braves, who owe us several centuries of suffering to make up for what previous Atlanta incarnations did to us. And it could boost Jacob deGrom [11]‘s chances at an out-of-nowhere Rookie of the Year award.

For a team whose postseason chances have shrunk to zero, that’s a fair amount to play for.