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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Seriesously Speaking

Some things don’t change even as the calendar pages do. Back in April, emphasis placed on winning series was emphasis well-directed We have now entered September. Winning series is still a very good thing. A very good goal, too, though I wouldn’t want to get too far ahead of myself. Take every day, even the days with doubleheaders, one game at a time and each series will take care of itself. Take the series(es), and the rest of the season figures to fall in line.

Early on, it was noted the Mets hadn’t lost a single series to any team. Then they lost one here and there and maybe split a few, but kept on winning most of them. The last time I recall checking in on the series scoreboard, as we entered the All-Star break, the Mets had won 21 of their first 29 series, splitting three others while losing only five. They’ve played a dozen more series since. They’ve lost three. They’ve won nine. Overall, that makes them 30-8-3 when measured by series, or 84-48 when measured by the games by which those series were comprised.

When measured by their thirtieth series win of 2022, the Mets appear ready for September and beyond. Or infinity and beyond. This series win — two games out of three — was over the Dodgers. For a moment, let us allow ourselves to be over the moon about it. But just for a moment. As far as grids full of white and shaded boxes can tell, a series against Los Angeles is just one more subset en route to collecting the complete set of 162 games, however they’re distributed, no different from having played four and won three from Colorado last weekend or whatever will happen versus Washington across three games this weekend.

But, c’mon. This was the Dodgers. This was the team that’s been to the playoffs every single year since the last year that Justin Turner was a Met. This was the team that won all there was to win just two years ago, as a cap on the head of a Dodgers fan reminded me on the 7 Super Express the other night. I stared at the interloper’s 2020 World Series logo and thought it looked a little oversized. Given that the 2020 postseason followed on the heels of a 60-game seasonette, perhaps the World Series logo should have been no bigger than the cap’s squatchee.

Give the Dodgers a full-sized season and you get a legitimate World Series contender as a matter of course. Give the Dodgers this full-sized season, and you get Ron Turcotte atop Secretariat looking over his shoulder curious to see if anybody’s remotely on his mount’s tail at the Belmont. In the National League West, the Dodgers’ lead is 18 games. Not even the team with the best record in the rest of the National League — that would be us — is particularly close to the Dodgers’ current record of 90-40.

Let the record show, however, that L.A. came to NYC 89-38 and are flying home carrying a 1-2 in their most recent three games, all against the Mets, and a 3-4 in their now-completed season series against the very same Gothamites.

Or would that be Kryptonites? Ah, I wouldn’t go that far. The Dodgers are probably plenty confident they could beat the Mets should there be one more series between the teams that hold the two best records in the National League. But, of more local import here, the Mets are probably plenty confident they could beat the Dodgers should there be one more showdown on the order of what we’ve just seen. We, the Mets fans, should share that confidence. I imagine some of you won’t, because you’re Mets fans who revert at slightest provocation to fretting over what has gone wrong (“we lost one out of three!”) and what could go wrong, but, my friends, that’s your problem.

The Mets won’t have a problem if they face the Dodgers again. They will have a challenge, because that’s a darn good team out there, but the Mets have beaten them four times the last five times they’ve played them. The Dodgers concern me. They don’t worry me, just like the Braves concern me but don’t worry me. The Braves are three games behind the Mets, which also means the Mets are three games ahead of the Braves. Funny how that works.

Beautiful how Thursday’s late-afternoon finale against the Dodgers worked. The Dodgers threw Clayton Kershaw at the Mets. Kershaw had either been on the IL or was just coming back from Cooperstown where I assume he was checking on the progress of his plaque. The future Hall of Famer (the “future” descriptor is a formality) had a tough first inning. Gave up a walk, then a single, then a walk, then got an out, then gave up his third walk of the inning. Dinosaurs walking the earth might have been used to Kershaw walking in a run, because he hadn’t done it since they were around, but, whoa, the Mets were up, 1-0, on an immortal in our midst.

Then they were behind, 2-1, in the second inning, but not more. Justin Turner started a rally with a double, just to remind us that he was asked to vacate these very premises in 2013, and Chris Bassitt had his own issue with a hit and a walk before Chris Taylor dumped a single somewhere toward the right field corner. Turner was definitely gonna score from third. Starling Marte got the ball into second, which may have facilitated Gavin Lux scoring from that very base, but it also allowed Francisco Lindor, who handled Marte’s relay, to accurately deliver the ball home so James McCann could tag out Trayce Thompson, who thought he could make it all the way around from first. He couldn’t.

We’re used to moaning about how little the Mets get out of their best threats. Well, the Dodgers had the bases loaded and one out and got only two runs from a seemingly stacked deck. So there. Then again, Clayton Kershaw possessed both the lead and the feel that eluded him in the first. Dude went five and didn’t give up any more runs. Bassitt could say the same about the rest of his day, pitching through six (enduring a funky home plate discussion delay among umpires and managers over whether the lights should be on as daylight commenced to fade in the fourth inning from a 4:10 PM start). We arrived in the bottom of the sixth still down, 2-1. Given that the two previous games had finished 4-3 and 2-1, a person could be forgiven for wondering if the only remaining runs in Flushing this week were going to belong to Serena Williams and Daniil Medvedev.

Wonder no more, the Mets reassured a person. With Chris Martin on in relief, Starling Marte beat out an infield grounder, which is no small feat given Marte’s nagging leg issues. Watching Marte manage his running has been as rewarding as watching Buck Showalter manage an entire season. Starling can’t always run full out, so he doesn’t when common sense negates visually pleasing hustle. But when a ball can be tracked down or a base hit can be sniffed out, the man turns it on. And man, did he to open the sixth…and did he some more when Lindor doubled to center. Starling was off and striding straight to the plate and suddenly Clayton Kershaw’s 193rd career win was gonna hafta wait at least another start (his problem). It was 2-2, with Lindor on second.

Did I say second? More like third once the slick-fielding shortstop stole the next base in front of him. I held my breath a little, because something about making outs at third is worse than making outs anywhere else, but Francisco read his situation perfectly. Darin Ruf was batting, not Daniel Vogelbach, a righty batter instead of a lefty, meaning the throw to third would be that much harder for Will Smith. Buck had decoyed Vogie in the on-deck circle but stuck with Darin against the righty, even if Vogie is on hand to destroy righties and even though the only entities Ruf had destroyed lately were rallies.

But with Lindor on third and only one out, all Darin needed to do was lift a fly ball deep enough to score a fast runner. That, I’m delighted to report, Ruf did. I felt very good for a Met with whom it was easy to lose patience, given that the designated hitter has one job, and when that one job goes undone, a person (the same person from a few paragraphs ago) is left to wonder what exactly is his value.

Darin Ruf was worth one very clutch run batted in and a one-run lead after six. Trevor May was worth his weight in perceived doubts as well, setting aside the Dodgers in the top of the seventh. The bottom of the seventh presented a museum-quality exhibit on opportunity. The Mets and Dodgers collaborated to create one, first on a two-out James McCann double (no, wise guy, the ball was not taken out of play and transferred to an authenticator to verify a once-in-a-lifetime event), then on a Brandon Nimmo pop fly that, thanks to indecision between Lux and Mookie Betts on the order of Danny’s Kaye’s “Miller-Hiller-Haller Hallelujah Twist,” fell in for a Brandon Nimmo double. McCann motored home. Nimmo stormed into second. Next, there was That Man again, Starling Marte — same initials as Stan Musial — lining a single to left to score Brandon.

The Mets were up, 5-2, and Buck was gonna go with Edwin Diaz to impede the heart of the Dodger order in the eighth. To be fair, every segment of L.A.’s lineup might as well be the heart of the Dodger order. Also to be fair, there seemed to be a touch of indecision on Showalter’s part, as Diaz was getting up, standing aside, then warming with renewed purpose while the score changed in the seventh. I believe that’s called dry humping, which is too bad, because baseball is a family game. Anyway, Diaz came on in the eighth, to recorded musical accompaniment only, and sounded a couple of rare sour notes. He walked Freddie Freeman and plunked Smith. Ouch. First and second. There’d be a deep fly to center, but it was caught by Nimmo, who catches everything. Freaking Freeman moved to third. Justin Turner also flied to Nimmo, though the out was Dodger-productive as it brought in freaking Freeman and placed Smith on second.

Then Edwin remembered he was Edwin and struck out Lux, strike three coming on a pitch that registered at nearly 103 MPH at Citi Field and probably showed up on the serve speedometer at Arthur Ashe, too.

The Mets led, 5-3. They tried to add to it in the home eighth by pinch-hitting Vogelbach, who walked, then pinch-running latest Met and professional speedster Terrance Gore, who stole. Vogelbach and Gore could constitute a two-headed monster in this month of expanded rosters, though to size them up, they might be better described as Vogelbach-Plus. Nice to see speed put to such electric use, even if Gore wasn’t driven in (what, he couldn’t steal third and home?). Adam Ottavino switched roles with Sugar and took the ninth. No live musicians for Otto’s entrance, either, but he made his own sweet sounds: two strikeouts and a flyout. The Mets had themselves game, set and match.

If there’s a rematch and another set of games pitting the Mets and Dodgers…wait, we take them one game at a time around here, and ten series encompassing thirty games remain in 2022’s regular season. I wanna get too far ahead of the Braves, not myself.

Beat the Nationals Friday night. That will do for now.

The first Old Timers Day in nearly three decades did very nicely by Mets fans last weekend. Listen to Jeff Hysen and me relive it lovingly on the latest episode of National League Town, available on all podcast platforms or the baseball time machine of your choice.

3 comments to Seriesously Speaking

  • Tom C.

    A sure sign things are different this year… in recent years past, Muncy’s and Turner’s fly balls are both homers. Just long outs in 2022. Phew!

  • Eric

    Whether it’s the Nationals or the Dodgers, the Mets consistently win series. No more (sweep) or less (get swept). We just need the Braves to not sweep teams while the Mets win their usual 2 of 3 or 3 of 4.

    Of late, Diaz has not looked dominant like he had for most of this season. But he’s still getting the job done.

    The bullpen outside Diaz is scary, but to their credit, they’ve been a lot more bend than break. And Showalter is doing right by not burning out his more trusted relievers.