Mets becoming serious title contenders

The New York Mets could not buy a run in July, and it looked like the season was about to be washed away into the abyss. Under embattled manager Terry Collins, the Mets looked like they were ready for another summer swoon, about to miss the playoffs for the ninth consecutive campaign. The folks in Queens were ready to give up on a team that appeared to be the same old story. Then fortunes turned.

New York general manager Sandy Alderson was aggressive before the trade deadline, acquiring third baseman Juan Uribe and utility infielder Chris Johnson from the Atlanta Braves. Alderson then called up his former pupil, general manager Billy Beane of the Oakland Athletics, and traded for relief pitcher Tyler Clippard. Finally, Alderson was able to pull in Yoenis Cespedes from the reeling Detroit Tigers, giving the Mets a middle-of-the-order bat.

With all of those additions, New York took off. It has not landed yet.

These days, everything is going right for the Mets. Monday night against the Philadelphia Phillies is a perfect example. At Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies jumped all over Jacob deGrom, knocking out last season’s Rookie of the Year after 2.2 innings with eight hits, seven runs (six earned) and a trio of home runs. After three innings, Philadelphia led 7-2. Then the Mets got rolling.

New York hung crooked numbers in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, hammering the inept Phillies for a 16-7 road victory. With the Washington Nationals enjoying a night off, the Mets ran their National League East lead to a full 5.5 games. At 68-56, New York is currently the second seed in the NL, a half-game ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The St. Louis Cardinals seem a sure shot to be the top seed, sitting 10.5 games better than the Mets.

Even with a little more than a month remaining in the regular season, it seems highly unlikely that the Nationals are going to overtake New York. Washington has all the talent in the world but lacks both heart and passion, showing itself to be a gutless group. At 62-61, the Nationals are barely treading water and before long, will be firing everybody in the front office. If they don’t, there should be an investigation.

With a rotation featuring deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jonathan Niese, the Mets can beat anybody in October. Factor in a healthy David Wright (who crushed an upper-deck home run in his first at-bat since April 14 on Monday night), the continued power of Cespedes and Wilmer Flores, and the all-around play of Juan Lagares and Daniel Murphy at the top, New York could become a force when the lights are brightest.

The Mets have been a joke for years. The laughter has stopped, replaced by the cheering of fans who have been waiting to rage for a decade.

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