When you're hot, you're hot. And the Mets, dear friends, are scorching.
Despite playing in temperatures and wind gusts better fit for a Finnish dog sled race, the Mets wiped out the Dodgers in both ends of a doubleheader on Wednesday. The two wins, matched with losses by the Marlins and Phillies, means that the Mets -- yes, the Mets -- are now in first place all by themselves.
The Mets did it by following the same plan they've been following throughout this home stand of stunning reversal. They got a good start from Johan Santana, heroic relief work from Hisanori Takahashi and, like the Braves and Cubs, the Dodgers played like they'd rather be anywhere in the universe that wasn't Citi Field. But, like any infomercial trying to sell you something miraculous, there's more.
David Wright busted out in the nightcap with a bases-loaded triple, two other hits and four RBIs altogether. He was finally hearing love from the Citi Field crowd, just a couple of hours after the fickle musheads swaddled him in boos for striking out in Game One. His offensive explosion was matched by Jason Bay's continued good play at the plate. Bay hit his first Mets homer in the first game and had a triple of his own to go with a diving catch in the second contest.
The diving catch was particularly fitting as it came on the day that Bay got rid of his reputation as an awful fielder. Ultimate Zone Rating, one of the stats that contributed to Bay's bad reviews with the glove, was updated to better take into account quirks in ballparks. Left field in Fenway Park is one of those quirks and Bay went from -13.8 runs to +1.9 runs in the 2009 season. Given the amount of guff Omar Minaya took on that front this winter, it's surprising they weren't handing out mittens with those numbers on Tuesday.
Now, that doesn't actually change the level of Bay's work with the glove. Any formula that's as new as UZR is going to have flaws that need to be ironed out and teams, even the Mets presumably, have their own proprietary formulas and scouts to measure defense. Watching Bay still says he's not great, but maybe he's closer to average than a lot of people would have had you believe when the Mets signed the deal.
Like we said, everything is coming up Mets these days. Even when Oliver Perez pitches exactly like Oliver Perez, as he did in Game Two Tuesday, things work out well enough to add another win for the good guys. It's been a heady homestand, zooming from 4-8 to 12-9 and from grim hopelessness to first place, and it ends with a chance for John Maine to join the fun that everyone but Perez is having these days.
Unlikely? The word no longer has any meaning at Citi Field.