Mets Set New Road Standard, Pound D'Backs 18-4

The Mets home may be Shea Stadium and they may have had taken turns looking miserable all around the country on the road this season but it would appear, given three games, three victories and a 32-5 run margin over their last two games alone, that the Mets and Bank One Ballpark are new-found friends.

The argument could be made that at 58-69, the Diamondbacks are not exactly playoff fodder and this perhaps would explain in part why the Mets suddenly look like an offensive road juggernaut as opposed to the mincing, feeble powderpuffs they've more closely resembled on the road this season up until now. But something more protean would appear to be at work over these Mets these last several days since they left Shea. They've developed a swagger.

All season long one of the more conspicuous absences from the lineup has been a power bat from first base. Ever since the failed effort to sign Carlos Delgado was painted over with the quick signing of Doug Mientkiewicz, first base has been a merry-go-round of powerless, low-rent production. Mets first basemen have knocked in 46 runs this season, by far the fewest in the major leagues, and they have hit 14 homers, among the fewest in the majors. In five games, Jacobs is hitting .538 with nine runs batted in.

For the moment at least, it appears the Mets catcher of the future, Mike Jacobs, might be well on his way to becoming the Mets first baseman of the future and his two homers last night, fourth in four games, were part of the spark of an offensive explosion so immense it nearly blighted out all the road failings of the season.

In addition to Jacobs' wild night, Jose Reyes had three hits, including his ML-leading 13th triple, his 6th homerun of the season (which give him 3 in his last six games) and four RBIs from the leadoff spot. Mike Cameron-replacement Victor Diaz had "only" two hits, but both of them were doubles. Mike Piazza-replacement Ramon Castro also had a pair of doubles, scored three runs and drove in a pair. And David Wright, who is replacing no one but creating a rapidly growing All Star portfolio at third base, had a pair of homeruns, four hits and scored four times.

Christ, even Kaz Matsui had three hits.

All told, they had a season-high hit total with 20 and set franchise records for total bases with 44 and extra-base hits with 13 which is normally the sort of production they get combined out of a six game series on the road, all rolled into one spectacular night of fireworks, confidence, shock and awe.

So, what do we make of these reformed Mets, these Mets who have not only taken the first three from the Diamondbacks but have done in such a brilliant and convincing fashion the rest of the National League suddenly has to take notice?

It's becoming evident that the infamous Cameron-Beltran collision in San Diego on August 11th, which we all knew would either unite or divide the Mets, has had magical qualities of renewal for these Mets. They've won 8 of 12 since that collision. They have persevered all season, mustered just enough to keep their heads above .500 and unlike the rest of their rivals for the NL wildcard, have yet to experience the sort of spine-tingling run of victories necessary to set a team out from the pack.

But that moment may fast be approaching. The starting pitching is coming together, the hitting is coming together and player contributions are coming from everywhere; under rocks, from the skies, in the drinking water. In short, the Mets have become a team and whilst they have done so, they finally look as though they are ready to run a string of victories of their own.

Magically lost in this sudden hitting hubris was the continued, mystical performance of Jae Seo, who like Jacobs, has been pulled out of a hat to perform miracles, boost the team's energy when it was sagging and more importantly, provide the Mets with a key ingredient to any playoff run: more pitching.

Seo, as he has done in all his outings since returning to the team from AAA, was brilliant, taking a scoreless effort into the 7th inning last night before allowing two runs which increased his ERA since his return to 0.89 ERA. Seo's performances have been like a cortisone injection to a painfully inflamed joint.

But what does it all mean?

Well, with a road trip consisting of Atlanta, Florida and St Louis still looming like a deadly warship on the horizon, it doesn't mean much yet. Three consecutive road victories, for a team that has wallowed away from home in a collective sort of somnambulstic stupor, is quite an accomplishment. Exploding for 32 runs in two games whilst getting quality pitching is also something to take notice of.

The Mets would appear to be finding themselves, or perhaps more precisely, they have found themselves already and for a team that has struggled to define itself all season, this may be just that moment when it all begins to fall into place.

On the other hand, you can't help but worry that this illusory moment of production, this heady swathe of three straight road victories, is merely another taunting form of success we dare not dream of. Just as mysteriously as the Mets have found themselves, they might lose themselves again and two or three games later, they might be looking at a similar losing streak because well, that's how the Mets season has been so far.

But if you believe in momentum, it would appear the Mets are beginning to gain it, the "x" factor of faith, action and achievement. This could be the beginning of a long dynasty, the "New Mets" we have craved since Spring Training, since the monumental signings of Pedro and Carlos Beltran.

I for one, am willing to suspend disbelief. That the offense has thrived in spite of losing two veteran bats in Cameron and Piazza from the lineup is significant for it is precisely these contributions coming from unexpected places which define a team making a playoff run, the unpredictable yet equally spread out success of one player, then another whilst the hands of Pedro, Cliff Floyd and David Wright have steadied the Mets through their most turbulent times, are all signs that something greater is ahead of us.

This is a team that had numerous opportunities to quit this season and the Cameron-Beltran collision, followed shortly be the demoralising loss on the heels of Pedro's almost-no hitter, should have broken the Mets collective backs and spirit. But it didn't. What hasn't killed them, as the auld axiom goes, has made them stronger.

Strong enough to make the playoffs this season? Possibly. It just might happen.


Pedro takes the mound tonight against another former Expo, Javier Vasquez, the Pedro-Light as the Mets attempt to sweep the entire four game series from the Diamondbacks.

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