Road-Weary New York Mets Looking Forward To Returning To Queens

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Road-Weary New York Mets Looking Forward To Returning To Queens
Hunter Martin/Getty Images

The last time the New York Mets walked off the diamond at Citi Field, they'd just swept the Los Angeles Dodgers to complete a 9-1 homestand for the third time in franchise history. The other two times it happened: 1969 and 1988—pretty special years in Amazin' history.

One Johan Santana meltdown, one Mike Pelfrey implosion, and two walk-off home runs given up later, the Mets can't wait to get back into Flushing for their first home game since April 28.

This hasn't been so much the case over the past few years, as  with all of the pressure from the media and the fans for the Mets to live up to, they've quite often looked at road trips as a way to get away from all of the hoopla.

But maybe all the in-your-face attention is what makes this team go. 

If you can't seem to recall the last time the Mets began a homestand, don't fret.  Because the outlook on the team has taken a complete 180-degree turn since that beautiful Monday, April 19, day.

At the time, there was talk that if the Mets had continued on their then 4-8 trend, manager Jerry Manuel could have been shown the door by the end of the homestand. 

That same day, the Mets promoted semi-phenom first baseman Ike Davis. It created quite a buzz over the New York airwaves for the day, partially due to the fact that many believed he should have been awarded the job after his strong spring training performance, but also due to the fact that a majority of Mets fans just didn't want to see Mike Jacobs again. Ever.

It's also when the Mets' 9-1—seemingly improbable at the time—run began. And there's been varying opinions about how and why the Mets went on the run that, for the time being, saved their season, and kept their recent 2-4 skid from being such a black eye. 

Some say that the media in all the players' faces talking about how their manager, who'd stuck with them through thick and thin, would be gone if their play didn't improve.

Others say it's the presence of an exciting rookie like an Ike Davis, who gives the Mets' lineup a little more depth, as the reason, while others say that Jose Reyes' return and placement in the No. 3 slot in the batting order is helping extend the lineup, and therefore helping the team. 

It's probably a combination of all three of those factors, but the biggest change that I've seen in this Mets team is the willingness to hit the gaps in the cavernous outfield at Citi. They realize that they can't go up there and try to jack one out, because that's just not how the ballpark plays. 

So they try to line balls into the gaps, knowing there's a good chance of at least a two-base hit.

The most noticeable approaches have been from David Wright and Ike Davis. Both batters had a knack for driving the ball into the gaps the other way during the last homestand, which can be a deadly weapon with runners on base. 

The large dimensions of the Mets' new home field got into their heads a little bit last year, and they needed to answer a lot of questions about during the offseason, but now it looks like they're using what they know to their advantage, and that's a great sign. 

Whether the Mets' last homestand was just a flash in the pan, or a real sign that they are learning to play at Citi will be determined in their next six-game homestand, where they will face the San Francisco Giants and the Washington Nationals

If the Mets can pull out a 4-2, or 5-1 record in this homestand, the good feelings about what they've learned to win at home on a consistent basis will reign supreme for a while longer. 

If they can't, the same pessimism that we heard on April 19 will return, because in everyone's minds, that homestand will have just been a fluke.

 

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