ANAHEIM, Calif. — Closer Edwin Díaz emphatically wrapped up the Mets’ 10-game West Coast trip with a five-out save to preserve a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday night. Nevertheless it was a decidedly smaller moment within the series that spoke volumes in regards to the chemistry and character of those National League-leading Mets.
It was Friday night within the sixth inning, the Angels had summoned reliever Jaime Barría with one out and one on, and he proceeded to strike out Francisco Lindor on three consecutive sliders. As Lindor walked back to the dugout, he paused to intercept the following hitter, Pete Alonso, leaning in for a number of words before the primary baseman stepped to the plate.
“I told him what I saw, what I assumed he must have known in regards to the ball,” Lindor said. “It’s one thing to see video. It’s one thing to read scouting reports. It’s one other thing in real life and what’s happening within the moment.”
It isn’t unusual for players to share information and swap observations. Nevertheless it is rare to see such an earnest conversation conducted on the sector, in the warmth of the battle.
Lindor’s nuggets didn’t spin gold for Alonso. The Mets were winning by 7-2 on the time, and Alonso, who smashed five homers and picked up nine R.B.I. throughout the road trip, popped a foul fly to the catcher. But toward the top of his team’s 10-game, 11-day trip, in a contest his team was leading by five runs, it will have been easy for Lindor to momentarily decelerate.
That didn’t occur.
“That’s why this team does superb to this point,” Lindor said in a conversation the following day. “We communicate with one another. We help one another out. We don’t just depend on the hitting coach. We depend on one another’s input, too.”
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“Calm down, all right? Don’t attempt to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some ground balls, it’s more democratic.”
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To get to where the Mets hope to go, they’re going to need every dose of that every day communication, coaching, input and output. The exuberance of an earlier six-game winning streak — a streak that lifted their N.L. East result in 10.5 games as they were heading out on the trip — was replaced by the wear and tear and tear of the road.
Lindor smashed his finger in a hotel door to start out the trip, Alonso and outfielder Starling Marte each had an injury scare that turned out OK. The Mets wound up going 5-5 against the Dodgers, the Padres and the Angels, still ok to move back to Recent York with the second best record within the majors, trailing only the Yankees.
“It reaffirms what I feel and what I’ve thought since spring,” Manager Buck Showalter said. “We’ve got a extremely good group of people that care about competing.”
At the identical time, though, Atlanta turned white hot, with Sunday’s 5-3 win over Pittsburgh pushing the Braves’ winning streak to 11 games. It’s Atlanta’s longest streak since a 14-gamer in 2013 and the longest winning streak within the National League to this point this yr.
With the Mets’ division lead whittled right down to 5.5 games, they may unpack on Monday and prepare for Milwaukee on Tuesday at Citi Field. The opening series of the upcoming homestand falls under the old baseball maxim of it’s not necessarily who you play, but if you play them. After leading the N.L. Central many of the yr, Manager Craig Counsell’s Brewers have gone inexplicably cold, losing 10 of their past 12 games.
The paths of each Atlanta and Milwaukee are instructive: The ebb and flow of a season accentuates the extremes. Nevertheless it’s the in-betweens that tilt things somehow, and in moments just like the one shared by Lindor and Alonso, the Mets like their probabilities most of the time.
“Barría’s got a novel shape to his breaking ball,” Alonso said, before continuing of Lindor: “Principally, it was him telling me the form of the pitch, the pitch’s behavior. He’s helping me put together a plan in order that I can execute and drive within the run.
“Eighty percent of the battle is knowing what a pitch does.”
Alonso explained that a hitter can watch all of the video he wants, however the angles are different than actually seeing a selected pitch from a rival from the batter’s box. Though Alonso said that he just “mis-hit” the ball, he noted that the guidelines Lindor gave him were good ones.
“It’s what we do here,” Showalter said of the Lindor-Alonso in-game exchange. “We discuss passing the baton, and that’s what you learn.”
Showalter said he liked the players on this team, personally, as much as any team he has ever managed. Their good attitudes and unselfish style are apparent, he said.
“And I don’t think people realize, since it’s under the radar, how good Eric Chavez is,” Showalter said of the team’s hitting coach. “That was a fantastic free-agent signing, getting Chavez in here.”
In Chavez, who played within the majors for 17 seasons, and the assistant hitting coach Jeremy Barnes, who played 4 seasons within the minors and one other two in independent ball and joined the Mets in January 2021, as director of player initiatives, the Mets have the combined better of each worlds, said infielder Luis Guillorme.
“Chavy played at the very best level and is sweet at in-game adjustments,” Guillorme said. “Chavy knows what’s unsuitable, while Jeremy figures out a approach to fix what’s unsuitable. Jeremy is more technical. They mix perfectly.”
The Mets continued to guide the majors in hits (559), runs scored (316), batting average (.265), on-base percentage (.336) and R.B.I. (301) through Sunday despite the Padres outscoring them, 20-2, within the last two games in San Diego. That was just the Mets’ third series lack of the season, and the Mets still haven’t lost as many as three games in a row. They were tested by dropping the primary two games in Dodger Stadium two weekends ago but got here back to separate that four-game series.
And the hitters’ penchant for staying alert on each pitch extends far beyond “passing the baton” within the lineup. Taijuan Walker (six innings, one earned run) produced his best start of the season Sunday after the Angels tagged him for 4 hits in the primary inning. It was left fielder Mark Canha, Walker said, who quickly identified that Walker was tipping his pitches.
So Walker huddled with Canha, Chavez and the pitching coach Jeremy Hefner within the dugout, figured a number of things out and wound up “keeping my glove near me” in his windup for the remainder of his game. He shut down the Angels over the following five innings, his best split-finger fastball of the yr leading the way in which.
It was a part of a unbroken quest, each on the a part of Walker and the Mets. Within the road trip opener, it was Jeff McNeil who noticed the Dodgers were identifying pitches by seeing Walker’s grips once they were on second base. He cleaned that up, however the Mets lost, 2-0. Then in San Diego, Walker said, after one foul ball, Lindor was heading back to his position and he asked the shortstop, “What do you bought for me here?” And Lindor was quick with a suggestion: “Splitter, down.’”
Walker said he threw two in a row, the second producing a harmless pop fly.
“They’re aware of all the pieces,” Walker said of this particular group of teammates. “They don’t miss a pitch. Francisco, especially, could be very aware.”
And because the Mets push ahead, they expect good things to occur across multiple fronts. The staff ace Jacob deGrom threw his third bullpen session on Saturday, and the hope stays for his return sometime across the All-Star break. Max Scherzer is getting closer, too. Tylor Megill was activated and rejoined the rotation on Friday.
Short-term, though, they were just pleased to be heading east, their longest trip of the season within the books.
“We’ve been out here, what?” Showalter quipped. “A month?”