Look Who's Playing Some Good Baseball Right Now

Three straight series wins and counting for the Mets

By Josh Alper
|  Monday, May 16, 2011  |  Updated 9:55 AM EDT
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Look Who's Playing Some Good Baseball Right Now

AP

Justin Turner wins the day - just like everyone predicted it would go down.

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Some stuff is going to slip throught the cracks while you spend time wondering about what happened to the Yankee bats, laughing at New York Post front pages or otherwise living a happy and productive life.

One such development is that the Mets team you stopped paying attention to when they hit 5-13 in April has been playing some pretty good baseball over the last month.

Sunday's 7-4 win over the Astros gave the Mets their third straight series win and a 14-8 record since that dreadful start to the season. That's a nice turnaround for a team that looked like they were on track for a direct trip to the gutter when the season got underway.

It hasn't been the most exciting stretch of baseball, perhaps, but the Mets don't really need excitement. They need the consistency that enables them to win series after series long enough to become the tortoise to the hares that broke smartly from the gate this season.

We've focused so much on getting rid of players like Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez this season that we've overlooked how much they've done to make this team click thus far. That will be much harder to do if they roll into Yankee Stadium this weekend with a record equal to or better than the one owned by the Yankees.

Now, we're not going to get too ahead of ourselves and predict some kind of magical run to the postseason for the Mets. They're still under .500 and in last place in the NL East, but they certainly aren't one of the teams that allow bad things to keep piling up without any response that we've grown used to seeing in Queens.

Quite the opposite, something exemplified by the guy who starred in Sunday's victory. Justin Turner wasn't the first, second or third choice to be the starting second baseman this season, but he's the current choice and it paid off with his first career homer and five RBIs against Houston.

In past years, the Mets wouldn't have been willing to turn to a player like Turner because of bigger names on the roster but they've established that playing time will go to those who deserve it. They've also shown increased depth -- see Jason Pridie and Fernando Martinez's contributions of late -- and been able to skate around early injury issues in a way that never happened in the Omar Minaya era.

Skating around issues is never a great long-term strategy and we've got our doubts about how much longer this bullpen can keep propping up a mediocre rotation, but there's definitely reason to keep hoping for the best. David Wright and, to a lesser extent, Jason Bay are due to give the team more offensively and the schedule looks pretty good for the next stretch.

Fourteen of the next 20 games are at Citi Field, where the team needs to play better than they've played so far this season. Ten of them are divisional games so the Mets won't have anyone but themselves to blame if they aren't still harboring hopes of remaining in contention at this time next month.

The flaws are clear and there aren't many fireworks, but we've been surprised enough to this point to stop doubting the Mets' ability to ride their slow and steady pace deeper into the season.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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