The Mets, who couldn’t have been deader last week, are alive if not 100% well. When you’ve won exactly one more game than you’ve lost, yet retain aspirations of winning twelve in October/November, you can’t have everything.
Though you need to come close.
Thursday night was the must-iest win of the year , superseding Tuesday night by dint of taking place two games later. That’s how it works when the season winds toward either completion or extension. If you’re in first place by a lot, you can relax. If you’re in last place by a lot, you can shrug. If you’re upper-middling, you can’t lose series. The Mets didn’t in St. Louis. Now they can’t at home.
Laurels must be terribly uncomfortable since somebody’s always warning you against resting on them. The Mets should take that wisdom under critical advisement. Winning the final two in San Francisco, then two of three in St. Louis, has earned them a breather. So breathe…and get after Philadelphia.
The Phillies are not in the playoff race, but our demi-contenders — three out in the all-important delusion column, four in the grandeur — can’t care about such niceties. Strategizing around strength of schedule can steep only the weakest of tea. Recall what a bounty of fine fortune was bestowed upon us when we were gifted a nine-game stretch of nothing but the addled and infirm, a.k.a. Arizona and San Diego. We lost six of nine. Had we taken a few more here and there from the likes of them, the Phils and the Braves, every game wouldn’t carry that extra whiff of must.
On the field, you can’t tell the contenders from the pretenders from the not bothering to act. The Diamondbacks were demonic. The Cardinals were discombobulated. Glance at no standings and you’d never guess who it is we’re trying to catch. All you would know from the last game of the road trip that threatened to never end is the Cardinals are, in their current incarnation, not catching everything hit or thrown at them, and that certainly aided our righteous cause.
Heading the parade of advantage-takers in orange and blue were Seth Lugo , until he cramped, and Alejandro De Aza , whose style can’t be. Three cheers for Alejandro, formerly known to me as Almostandro for the way he never quite came through. He is these days experiencing a De Azanaissance, making this a welcome period of rebirth for us all. Thursday, Al (as we fair-weather fans of his call him) pulled in a possible Cardinal homer at the wall in the first, singled in two runs in the fourth and went very deep with two on in the fifth. By then, the De Azafied Mets had built a 7-0 lead, which Lugo, entering the bottom of the sixth, prepared to nurture for another inning or so, until he felt something in his calf. Perhaps it was sympathy pain for Jay Bruce .
Both Lugo and Bruce are reported doing fine, which perfectly explains why the latter didn’t play at all Thursday and the former didn’t throw another pitch. (Wait, what does “fine” mean again?)
Once Lugo turned into leg-oww — and Ray Ramirez collected his quota of souls for the evening — the Mets dipped into their bullpen. I was shocked to learn there were still pitchers in there whose arms hadn’t fallen off from accelerated nightly entry, but they’re a resilient little corps. Did you know Sean Gilmartin  is on the team again?
Seven-run leads with twelve outs remaining fluffs a cushion like it oughta be, plus the bats added a few runs, so calamity was avoided via a 10-6 win. The Mets return from their arduous (for them and for us) journey 5-5 on the road and still viable within the Wild Card realm. They won a series, the mandatory minimum for teams with plans.
Congratulations, fellas. Now keep doing that.