The New York Mets might be 8.5 games out of first place in the National League East, but the players know that they are capable of turning the deficit around if they're given time.
Therein lies the kicker, though. The Mets are more than two-thirds of the way through their schedule and time just isn't something that is on their side. Still, they say, you can't stop believing now.
Ike Davis knows the Mets are still right in the thick of things, but he also appreciates that the club can't continue to drop series, especially to divisional rivals like they did on their last road trip.
"We're trying to get something started right now," the first baseman told me in front of the Mets dugout. "The season's not over and we have time—not a lot, but we have some time—to put something together and see if we can rattle off a couple good streaks."
Although Davis is young, he is among those leading by example, both in the clubhouse and on the field. He took extended batting practice ahead of Tuesday's home opener with the Colorado Rockies and he has been keeping loose in and around his teammates.
The streaky slugger also appears to be adopting a more patient approach at the plate, even if he would like to be ripping the ball to all fields a little more.
He added: "You could say I'm doing better, yes, I guess. I mean I was laying off some pitches, but I wasn't really driving the ball. I was getting my hits and taking some walks, but I need to drive the ball."
Similarly, fellow Mets newcomer Chris Carter understands that the club is capable of mounting a late-season charge.
"The guys and the coaching staff know that we are still in this," Carter said, "but we're running out of games and we need to start playing well."
While Davis will continue to get regular playing time at first base, Carter knows he will have to make the most of every single at-bat that comes his way.
The pinch-hitting specialist is tied for seventh in the Majors with 10 hits off the bench, while his .294 batting average as a pinch hitter is 11th in the NL. He has more pinch hits than any rookie in all of baseball in 2010, and he is fifth with five RBIs.
Carter added: "Every opportunity I get I'm happy to have and I'm happy to be here and excited for trying to make a playoff run because I really believe in this team."
After the series with Colorado, the Mets will host the Phillies to complete their six-game homestand. Road trips to Houston and Pittsburgh follow are sandwiched between sets at home to Florida and Houston and then, if the Mets are still in contention, the run-in really begins.
Six of their next eight series are against NL East opponents, with New York facing Atlanta and Philly for a combined 13 games in 28 days. This will truly make or break their season, although games against the Marlins and Cubs won't be easy either.
The players believe they can still challenge for the playoffs in 2010, and although they're going to need almost everything to go their way, it could just happen.
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