The Mets Flipped the Script This Week

Rauch, Nieuwenhuis bail out Santana as Mets sweep Rays

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    What went down has come back up.

    Baseball rarely misses a chance to make you look stupid.

    When this week started, the party line was that the Mets were starting to show their flaws after two months living the charmed life of a contending team. Five losses in six games to the Nationals and Yankees seemed to be an omen of rougher days to come as the Mets suffered fairly widespread failures with the parts of their team that weren't R.A. Dickey.

    It wasn't time to write their obituary, but you could sense a little nostalgia seeping in as people talked about the fun times with the 2012 Mets as if they were starting to think about whether or not to invite Omar Minaya to the funeral. And then, as baseball will do, everything changed completely.

    Facing a Rays team with the lowest ERA in the American League, the Mets put up 29 runs in three games to fuel a sweep that even the hardiest of fans didn't expect to see. It didn't do anything to draw them closer to the streaking Nationals, but it did steady a ship that had taken on a little bit of water.

    Thursday's 9-6 win might have been the biggest stabilizer of all. Johan Santana's second post-no-hitter start looked a lot like the first and you could see the headlines about ruining his shoulder for a moment of temporary glory rolling off the printing presses of your mind as the Rays made things look as easy as the Yankees did last week.

    Unlike many of his past starts, though, this wouldn't be about Santana on his own. The offense came to play, led by two Kirk Nieuwenhuis home runs and another multiple-hit game for Ike Davis.

    Davis, who couldn't hit water from a boat all season, now has three straight two-hit games. Any attempt to argue for the Mets staying in things for the long haul requires a Davis turnaround and, for the first time, there's signs that it could happen.

    The offensive burst was enough to put the Mets up 8-4 after four, but Santana put the first three batters of the sixth inning on base before getting lifted for Jon Rauch, a man who has proven so adept at putting out fires that he's now pitching in the sixth inning. But Rauch got in on the whole reversing trends thing as well, so two strikeouts and a harmless grounder to third got the Mets out of the inning.

    There would be another scare in the ninth thanks to Miguel Batista's mediocre work, but Frank Francisco slammed the door and the Mets bullpen held when it needed to hold. The Mets went from sweepee to sweeper, good news that came with the slight downer that it helped the Yankees a great deal.

    With three games in D.C. this weekend, the Yankees can return the favor while the Mets hang out at home for three with the Reds. REO Speedwagon is having a concert at Citi Field after Friday night's game, which is fairly appropriate at the end of this week.

    It might have started with people unable to fight the feeling that the Mets were doomed, but the team rolled with the changes well enough to keep the fire burning at least a little longer.

    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.