With talk earlier this year that this might be New York’s best baseball season ever, it seemed clear that there was at least a small divide between the major league teams of the city.
The Yankees were still the big dogs, and even though the Mets were having a great season, they seemed less of a threat.
After the July 23 games just over two weeks ago, the Yankees were 65-31 and battling the Los Angeles Dodgers for baseball’s best record. The Mets were creditable 58-37, which puts them six and a half games behind rivals Crosstown and just a half game ahead of rival Atlanta in the National League East.
Things changed quickly. Since then, the Mets are 15-2 and the Yankees are 6-10. That had put the Mets on top, at least for now. With Wednesday’s 10-2 victory over Cincinnati at Citi Field, the Mets improved to 73-39, two games better than the Yankees, who lost 4-3 to Seattle on Wednesday and fell to 71-41. The Mets also regained the No. 2 record in the majors, behind the ever-high-flying Dodgers, with a 76-33 record heading into Wednesday night’s game against the Minnesota Twins.
Perhaps most importantly, the Mets opened up a wide lead over Atlanta.
The current hot streak began with a win over the San Diego Padres on July 24, but took shape over the next two games when the Mets hosted the Yankees for the first Subway Series of the season and came away with a two-game sweep. .
“Honestly, it was like a World Series home run,” Eduardo Escobar told reporters after his two-run homer in the first inning helped the Mets win 6-3 in Game 1. “I’ve never played in an environment like this.”
A Starling Marte single in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 2 completed the sweep a day later.
The wins seemed to launch the Mets, and the momentum continued from there: a sweep from Miami, two-of-three from Washington, then a crucial four-from-five from Atlanta that widened their division lead. Wednesday’s victory gave them a three-game sweep against the Reds. After a day off Thursday, the Mets will host the Philadelphia Phillies for a three-game series at Citi Field.
The Mets have shown excellence on the mound and at home plate, ranking in the top four in the majors in points per game and points allowed per game. (Unsurprisingly, the Yankees and Dodgers are too.)
The Mets were bolstered by the return of Jacob deGrom from injury. He got a non-decision loss in his opener, despite allowing just one run in five innings, then he struck out 12 in a 5-2 win over Atlanta on Sunday, earning his first win in over a year. . Max Scherzer, the team’s other ace, is 3-0 in the hot run, allowing just two earned runs in three starts. And closer, Edwin Díaz, who shredded the league with a 52.9 percent strikeout rate, saved six of 15 wins.
On offense, the Mets did it with depth. Only one regular starter, first baseman Pete Alonso, has a more slugging on-base percentage above .900, but almost everyone participates. And five of Alonso’s 29 home runs have come in the current race.
Despite the hot streak, there are a few concerning signs. The Mets weren’t exactly crushing teams: Thirteen of 15 wins in their streak were by four points or less. Although the Yankees only won six games during that span, three of them were by six points and two by five.
It follows a pattern throughout the season. The Yankees’ plus-204 run differential trails only the Dodgers, who are at plus-233. The Mets are plus-127. That’s a good total, and a win is a win, but the Dodgers and Yankees’ huge scoring margins might just be an indication that they can step up a gear.
Either way, the Mets led the NL East by seven-and-a-half games heading into Wednesday’s Atlanta game, and the Yankees have a 10-game lead over Toronto, whose Wednesday game in Baltimore was postponed due to the rain.
FanGraphs gives both New York teams a 100% chance of making the playoffs. So other than bragging rights, there’s not much at stake as to which team will end up with the better record.
And yet… the best regular-season record determines home-court advantage in the World Series. There’s a long way to go, and a lot of things are set to break, but if there were to be the first Subway Series since 2000, every regular season game might actually matter.
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