What a difference a week makes. Last Monday, the Mets were scrambling to keep the season from getting away from them and reaching into the minors to summon Ike Davis and his ability to inspire some reason for people to keep watching the games. Seven games later, they're above .500 and riding a four-game winning streak into the heart of the National League mix.
The former is more impressive than the latter, at least right now. A look at the National League standings shows that there isn't much to differentiate the teams at this point. The Phillies are 11-7, the Pirates are 7-11 and every other team is wedged between them like steerage passengers on a transatlantic voyage. They're all headed in the right direction, but it will be a lot more comortable if some teams can find their way to the deck and fresh air before too much more time passes.
Could one of those teams be the Mets? Lost in the bubble world that enveloped the Mets through the first two weeks of the season was that the 2010 National League isn't exactly long on high-quality outfits. The arrival of the Cubs and Braves at Citi Field provided a needed reminder. The Cubs just moved their top starter to the bullpen in a flight of madness and the Braves played the kind of sloppy baseball they usually save for the postseason. That's reason enough for the Mets to think they've got a real chance.
Even better than that reason is the pitching that they flashed this week. They allowed just 15 runs in seven games, including two shutouts started by Mike Pelfrey. Sunday night's 1-0 rain-shortened affair ran Pelf's scoreless streak to 24 innings, even though his five walks ensured that the Braves would have to do their part to keep it alive. There are other quibbles, particularly the inability of starters to get deep into games, but the week of work has shown that baseball is a pretty simple game if you can pitch well.
And, frankly, it never hurts to get the breaks going in your direction. Everything came up roses for the Mets last week. Their opposition played poorly, Davis walked into the big leagues without a moment of struggle and Jason Bay finally looked like a decent player with Jose Reyes in front of him. Sunday night's rainout was the icing on the cake as it allowed a tired bullpen to avoid four innings of high-stress work.
Good pitching and good luck haven't been hallmarks of the Mets in a good long while. Their return has made it possible to see the bigger picture for a team in the National League. It's not such a bad picture and there's plenty of time for the Mets to work themselves into the center of the frame.