The Mets have been about as hot as anybody in baseball in recent days, but they ran into someone even hotter on Thursday.
Justin Verlander allowed just one run over seven innings to run his June record to 5-0 with an 0.86 ERA and the Tigers ended the Mets' four-game scoring spree in a 5-2 afternoon loss in Detroit. The Mets had their chances to put some big innings together against Verlander -- two runners on in both the fourth and fifth and they forced him to throw 120 pitches -- but the big hits that carried them to a franchise record 52 runs in the last four games never materialized.
It didn't help that Jose Reyes's special brand of magic also failed to make an appearance on Thursday. The man who has played as well as anyone in baseball this season made two crucial outs on the basepaths to rob the Mets of other chances to stick crooked numbers on the scoreboard for a fifth straight game.
Lucas Duda also got thrown out on the plate trying to tag and score in the seventh inning, providing an unhappy reminder of the kinds of mistakes that have led to a lot of Mets losses in the last few years. Throw in Mike Pelfrey's total inability to find the strike zone and you've got a familiar recipe that led to what's been a fairly unfamiliar result of late.
The Mets were 16-11 in June, a strong record given the lack of key cogs like Ike Davis and David Wright, and they end the first half of the season with a 41-40 record. That was nearly unthinkable when the team was 5-13 after 18 games and 11-16 after the first month of the season.
That should allow everyone to keep Thursday's loss in the proper perspective. The Mets have outperformed expectations to this point and doing it without a full deck says a lot about how good a job Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson have done during their first year on the job.
It's not anything to brag about, obviously, and recent history tells you why no one should be complacent. The Mets were 45-36 at this point last season and things went south fairly quickly after that point.
Right now the Mets have done a commendable job of surviving. They'll need to thrive to finish the job and we'll soon find out if they are capable of doing that.