People can keep telling themselves "oh, it's only one game," but soon the doubters will have to accept the fact that the New York Mets are a legitimate threat in 2010.
They shut out the Yankees for their third straight victory over their cross-town rivals on Friday night, and the Mets are putting more weight behind the idea that their road sweeps in Baltimore and Cleveland were no fluke.
Every time the Mets have been challenged lately, they have shone. After winning seven in a row at home in mid-to-late April, the Mets struggled on their travels and critics pointed to their 4-10 record over the previous two road trips which included being swept in four games against the Marlins.
Detractors said that if they couldn't win against the Marlins and Nationals, what chance did they have against the two teams coming into town next who had faced one another for the World Championship last October?
The Mets responded by taking the first subway series at Citi Field two games to one and then shutting out the supposed cream on the NL East in three consecutive games.
Okay, so the Mets were still rolling at home, but they would never be good enough to challenge for the National League crown because they were terrible on the road, right?
Six games on the road later and the Mets had extended their new winning streak to seven games, moving into second place in the division and cutting the gap to just 0.5 games behind the Braves.
"Pfff," people scoffed. "Do that against a team with a winning record on the road."
Well, doubters, is a victory over the Yankees good enough for you? The Mets pitched beautifully and got the big hits when they were needed. They handcuffed the Bombers who have been struggling the most and they found a way to get a lead to their bullpen. Hisanori Takahashi was fantastic again, Pedro Feliciano was perfect, and the Mets were able to wait out Javier Vazquez to get to Boone Logan.
Sure, it was an adventure with Raul Valdez and Francisco Rodriguez, but when isn't it?
The Mets are doing everything right at the minute and they are playing solid, fundamental baseball. They are getting more than anyone ever expected from their rotation, and guys like Ruben Tejada, Angel Pagan, and Ike Davis have contributed more than their fair share.
This was a team that everyone liked to rip on. It was a team with a massive payroll and mediocre expectations; a pitching staff in tatters with a manager on what seemed like a permanent hot streak. Their franchise player was leading the league in strikeouts, they had the worst road record in baseball, and their All-Star center fielder may or may not ever play again.
Don't look now, but the Mets are the hottest team around. Yes, they'll be streaky, and yes, there will be lulls. But this Mets team has figured out how to win with what they have, and they have met every challenge head on.
If they continue to roll and sweep the Yankees, maybe all of this talk about having to beat an elite team on the road will stop.
Then the doubters will just have to think of yet another excuse to explain why the Mets aren't for real.
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