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New York Mets aiming for second place finish in NL East

When one thinks of the National League East, the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals instantly come to mind. However, one team that has not played well in the NL East, is now fighting for second place.

The Atlanta Braves have run away with the division with a record of 70-45. The Braves have won 13 straight games and now lead the second place Washington Nationals by 15 ½ games.

However, it is the New York Mets who are getting the attention of other teams in the division. The Mets have won three straight games and 6 of their past 10 overall to get to within one game of the second place Nationals.

Over the past four straight seasons, the Mets have finished fourth in the NL East each season. For much of this season, the Mets looked to suffer the same fourth place fate, just another normal season for the Mets players and fans.

However, as New York prepares to head west for an 11-day swing on the West Coast, they find themselves in a dogfight for second place.

The Mets defeated the Colorado Rockies on Thursday to sweep the Rockies in three games behind a strong pitching performance from Dillon Gee and drew them to just one game behind Washington.

New York is as famous for its second half collapses as its pizza joints. This season New York is 19-15 since July 1 and it is the cross-town rival Yankees who are collapsing.

Even though the Mets are fighting for second, it might seem to be somewhat of a hollow accomplishment since their current record is behind their pace of last year through the same amount of games, albeit by two wins.

With 50 games left on their schedule, the Mets are still 10 games out of the wildcard chase in the NL.

What their rise in the NL East standings serves as more than anything is an example of how poor the NL East is.

It is baseball’s only division that has just one team playing above .500 and the gap between first place Atlanta and second place Washington is bigger than the gap between the first place team in the NL West and the last place team.

Nevertheless, the Mets consider their quest for second meaningful and it will help them when entering the long winter break. With a strong last 50 games, the Mets could turn in their first season above .500 since 2008.

That would be very significant for the Mets players and organization. The players and coaches feel if the pitching can hold up, as Gee did with pitching into the seventh inning for his seventh straight start, then they have a good shot at .500 and second place.

Following the win on Thursday, they tried to keep a lid on their enthusiasm as they understand they had just swept the reeling Rockies does not mean their own problems are completely solved.

Nevertheless, by Friday night the Mets could be the second place team in the NL East regardless of how weak the division is, it is still an accomplishment for them.

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