Mets get back to .500 with blowout win to sweep Yankees in Subway Series (2024)

NEW YORK — Around the same time New York Mets players started to demand more from one another, talked about sharing a “relentless optimism” and let go of pressure, manager Carlos Mendoza shared a message with his coaching staff.

Mendoza asked them, “How can we help guys continue to get better?”

A month ago, with his team reeling, that was Mendoza’s goal for the club: get better every day in different areas. That was it. The first-year manager said he didn’t look at the schedule, didn’t choose a number of wins for the next month or anything like that.

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“That will be the approach moving forward,” Mendoza said. “We still got a ways to go.”

Mendoza and the Mets’ veteran players struck the right tone Wednesday night about dismantling the New York Yankees in the Subway Series — they won 12-2 Wednesday after winning 9-7 the day before — and returning to .500.

“It does feel good that we are on the right track,” Francisco Lindor said, “but we understand that’s not the mission.”

#SubwaySeries sweep pic.twitter.com/sum1jyr33p

— New York Mets (@Mets) June 27, 2024

Considering the Mets’ position last month, Mendoza and his players acknowledged the importance of no longer carrying a losing record, but they steered clear of celebrating the moment. They know — perhaps better than most in the sport — that they’ve yet to reach even the mathematical midway point. Before Wednesday’s game and while trying to contextualize their journey to this point, club officials and players said the same cliche, often with a smile: “It’s a long season.”

The Mets are at .500 for the first time since the second week of May. In May, so much went wrong. Their fielding sunk to the bottom of the league in defensive runs saved. Their hitting stalled too often, failing to consistently perform up to capabilities. Their bullpen failed to hold leads. Through long losing streaks, nearly getting no-hit and the tossing of a glove, they challenged the meaning of rock bottom. They unraveled. They went 9-19.

The Mets were 11 games below .500 on June 2 — just 3 1/2 weeks ago.

Since then, they’ve gone 15-4. So much has gone right for them. The Mets’ best players — Lindor, Pete Alonso, J.D. Martinez and Brandon Nimmo — all heated up. Their young players — Mark Vientos and Francisco Alvarez — have established themselves. They’ve fulfilled their lineup’s potential as a deep group that can consistently post crooked numbers and chase starting pitchers out of games early. The Mets did just that again Wednesday, knocking Luis Gil out in the fifth inning, and then continuing to pile on from there. Alvarez, Tyrone Taylor and Harrison Bader each hit home runs.

Mets get back to .500 with blowout win to sweep Yankees in Subway Series (1)

The Mets’ Harrison Bader, left, gestures to teammates after his RBI double, standing near the Yankees’ Anthony Volpe. (Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)

“It’s pretty impressive,” Mendoza said. “The mentality is, we’re not giving anything away.”

While the Mets got busy getting hot, a few of their counterparts in a crowded National League wild-card picture did, too. No longer are there sub-.500 teams occupying two of the three wild-card spots. The St. Louis Cardinals (41-38) and San Diego Padres (44-41) hold those spots after hot stretches of their own, with the Mets (39-39) the first team on the outside looking in. Ask a few scouts about each of those teams, and they’ll raise issues for all three.

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The Mets’ concerns include their bullpen. Edwin Díaz remains suspended for eight more games, and Drew Smith landed on the injured list Wednesday because of a right elbow sprain (the severity was not yet known late Wednesday night). They do not have enough high-leverage options who are pitching well to make those losses feel particularly manageable.

But the consensus among a few scouts interviewed for this story was that the Mets may continue to get just enough from their starting pitching and that their lineup is legitimate — maybe not this good, but possibly strong enough to keep things rolling for New York.

That’s the goal ahead: sport a winning record. It happened more than two months ago and feels much longer than that, but the Mets on April 20 were four games above .500. That’s their high mark. They haven’t been over .500 since May 2.

A few Mets players said they couldn’t pinpoint that exact date, that they just knew it had been a while. Hence, the tone and mood inside the clubhouse and around the team.

Hours before Wednesday’s game, Mets owner Steve Cohen and Lindor had a brief chat inside the dugout. When Lindor approached Cohen, the owner was deep in another conversation with his back toward the shortstop. Lindor placed his arm around Cohen. With a smile, Cohen turned to Lindor and asked about possibly getting back to .500 on Wednesday. Lindor, reciprocating the smile, told him, “One at a time.”

Even after returning there, the sentiment remains the same.

“I’m not gonna lie,” Mendoza said, “where we were a few weeks ago, to be in this position now, it’s important, knowing that we still got work to do and we got a long way to go.”

(Top photo of Tyrone Taylor celebrating after hitting a three-run home run in the sixth inning: Wendell Cruz / USA Today)

Mets get back to .500 with blowout win to sweep Yankees in Subway Series (2)Mets get back to .500 with blowout win to sweep Yankees in Subway Series (3)

Will Sammon is a staff writer for The Athletic, covering the New York Mets and Major League Baseball. A native of Queens, New York, Will previously covered the Milwaukee Brewers and Florida Gators football for The Athletic, starting in 2018. Before that, he covered Mississippi State for The Clarion-Ledger, Mississippi’s largest newspaper. Follow Will on Twitter @WillSammon

Mets get back to .500 with blowout win to sweep Yankees in Subway Series (2024)

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