It's starting to feel like this Mets season is going to go in cycles. They'll go on road trips full of sloppy play, brutal losses and innuendo about managerial changes before returning home to Queens where they'll suddenly morph into a different, much better team than they were while living out of suitcases.
That's the way things have gone thus far in 2010. The Mets are 17-9 at Citi Field after beating the Phillies on Tuesday night, but just 6-14 in area codes outside of 718. That makes you think our faithful heroes are either enjoying their minibars a bit too much or that they truly do love being in the warm embrace of their wives and girlfriends. Your cynicism can guide you on that front, we'll try to figure out how the Mets can break that cycle.
The shift from John Maine, Jon Niese and Oliver Perez to R.A. Dickey, Hisanori Takahashi and Raul Valdes can't hurt. That trio has allowed just five runs in their last 26 innings of combined work. The Mets have actually only won two of the four games those pitchers have worked, but appearances by Maine and Perez led to just five wins in 18 games so there's growth here.
Is there reason to expect that Dickey can regularly allow 10 baserunners in six innings without giving up a run? Of course not, but who can confidently predict what will happen when the knuckleballs start flying? Certainly not the Phillies, who were shut out by Tim Wakefield for eight innings on Sunday. Anyone have Tom Candiotti's phone number handy?
As nice as the pitching has been, the brighter news might be that the offense is giving some indication that it isn't shut out or bust for the Mets these days. Jose Reyes is 7-for-15 over the last three games, he stole two bases on Tuesday and finally looks like something other than the shell of his former self. Jason Bay and David Wright are also hitting and the Mets actually avoided striking out for an entire game on Tuesday. That's impressive under any circumstances, but worthy of a parade for a team that still insists on playing Jeff Francoeur.
In other words, it's all working in the shadow of the Shake Shack and if it should never translate to other stadiums, well, it wouldn't be the first time that what worked in New York didn't play in Peoria.