It was only the 11th and 12th games of the 2022 New York Mets season, and the first two matchups of a four-game series. When the Mets swept an April 19 doubleheader from the Giants, it became apparent that this year’s team could certainly live up to expectations. There is a different vibe, a different aura around Citi Field this year.
The team’s fan base has appreciated the increased recent tributes to franchise history. The most notable is obviously the new Tom Seaver statue in front of the ballpark. Simple photos or even video clips do not quite capture the majestic aura of the piece. It’s something one simply has to see in person to fully appreciate.
Now, inside the ballpark, something special may be happening, too. That was evident on the team’s first homestand of the new campaign.
The 2022 New York Mets: Amazin’ Again?
No Longer The Victims of Giants
Mets followers are hungry for a true contender. They were surprised by the team’s last run to a World Series in 2015 and don’t want to talk about losing to the Yankees in 2000. Many Mets fans, especially those who also root for the Jets, have been stuck in a rut of doom and gloom for too many years. Younger fans were not able to witness the legendary glory of the 1986 team.
The 2022 Mets, though, served notice that they may indeed be ready to meet raised expectations on a cold day and night in April. New York currently has the sixth-best odds to win the World Series at Caesars Sportsbook (+1200) . That could turn out to be a good wager to make right now. The Mets were tortured by San Francisco last August, losing five of six to the Giants as part of a grueling late-season stretch. This time, they showed they are a much better team that is going to hang with the best in the National League in 2022.
The first game on April 19 seemed to start out the same way the matchups with the Giants did last year. Tylor Megill, who had stirred a lot of buzz with two strong starts to open the season against lesser opponents, gave up four runs in the second and third innings, and you could detect some moans and groans from some of the crowd on hand and the re-igniting of previous skepticism in the press box. But then Megill settled in and Francisco Lindor, who had struggled in his first season in New York, continued to show that the doldrums of 2021 are definitely behind him.
Megill allowed just one hit and one walk over the next three innings, and a Lindor RBI double capped a three-run fifth inning surge. In the bottom of the 10th, Lindor stroked the game-winning hit In a 5-4 victory, singling in Brandon Nimmo to touch off another early 2022 celebration. Lindor is off to a blazing start to the year and has been openly rejoicing frequently in the first month of the season.
Lindor also doubled to start a three-run third inning in the nightcap as he extended his season-opening on-base streak to 12 games. He was hitting .310 with three home runs, three stolen bases and nine RBIs after the doubleheader. Lindor has admitted he was not able to find a consistent groove last season, but he is putting that behind him. He can be a big key to the Mets making a very deep playoff run in 2022.
In the second game of a sweep of one of the National League’s better teams, the stage truly belonged to New York’s biggest offseason acquisition, future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer. After toying with a no-hitter into the sixth inning, Scherzer ultimately allowed just one hit and struck out 10 in seven innings in his Citi Field home debut as the Mets won, 3-1.
The New York Mets Have Their Eyes on October
Yes, it was only two games in April, but they were important ones for the Mets. The two wins also featured a pair of players who could be highly significant performers for New York when it counts most this season. Lindor and Scherzer were the biggest acquisitions under new owner Steve Cohen over the last two seasons, and may be the ones that could push the team to battle for its first championship in 34 years. It would be a fitting finish in the franchise’s 60th anniversary season, in the same year they unveiled the Seaver statue.
Mets fans should enjoy the ride along the way, as the team’s starting pitching has been marvelous so far, and that has been without Jacob deGrom. The starters had a 1.07 ERA in their first 10 games, the best to open a season since the stat was first recorded in 1913. New York has also been taking a more patient, calculated approach to getting on base.
Through 12 games, the Mets led the Majors in on-base percentage at .350, and were third in walks with 50. New hitting coach Eric Chavez is already getting a lot of internal praise. Yet once the hitters get on base, they become more aggressive. New York was also tied for the league lead with 11 stolen bases after 12 games, after finishing 24th in MLB in steals last year.
Led by Buck Showalter, this edition of the Mets carries a new confidence among its players. It’s not arrogance, but a fundamentally sound approach. The clubhouse culture has also changed. Max Scherzer is a proven winner who acts as a team leader even on days when he does not pitch. Lindor and Pete Alonso are exuberant tone-setters, and Robinson Cano remains a strong presence among his teammates.
The Dodgers may still be the favorites in the National League, and the Braves will be in the mix for the pennant, too. But the Mets have already signaled that they are going to be battling for the N.L. flag, and it should be an enjoyable year in Queens along the way.
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