Mets are getting their first taste of hardship after hot start in 2022

On a picture-perfect afternoon, 38,476 people were at Citi Field and they knew—they just knew—how this was going to end. The Mets had bottomed the ninth 8-5 against the Mariners. It was now 8-7. There was one out. The tie and the winning run were in the scoring position.

The grudge in the courtyard reflects a new perspective for Mets fans who so often keep an eye out for black cats and dark clouds, even on a brightly sunny day like this. The 2022 Mets had done this before, after all. They play all 27 outs. Of course they would pull that out.

You didn’t pull it out. Diego Castillo and his ERA north of 9 beat Starling Marte. After the Seattle manager decided to accompany Francisco Lindor to load the bases, Castillo threw six sliders through the shadows at Pete Alonso. No. 6 was ball four and would have leveled the game, but Alonso broke his wrists with a half swing.

The mighty polar bear had struck.

“Sometimes,” Alonso said, “you just have to tip your cap. He hit me.”

So there would be no third miracle comeback in the ninth inning for the first 36 games of the season, and the Mets would finally drop a series. For the first time in a season so far mostly covered in stardust, the Mets have a touch of adversity on their hands.

Pete Alonso reacts in the dugout after striking to end the game.
Pete Alonso reacts in the dugout after striking to end the game.
Robert Sabo for the NY POST

Tylor Megill was put on the injury list before the game with biceps tendonitis, for now depriving the Mets of a starter who was mostly untouchable save for a terrible start on his last time out. He joins James McCann on the roster, which already includes Jacob deGrom and a growing crew of helpers. For all their winning streaks, Sunday’s loss dropped the Mets to 5-5 in their last 10 games.

“Winning in the big leagues,” Buck Showalter said, “is hard.”

Showalter has managed 3,105 games in the majors. So if you’re looking for him to sound the alarm, you’ve come to the wrong place.

“There’s a fine line between winning and losing, and we’re doing our share of positive things,” he said. “You go through phases where things don’t go the way you want them to. You will seek your level all year round.”

If anything, the Mets’ hot start — and make no mistake, 23-13 still counts as a hot start — is a reminder of how long, how unforgiving, and how incessant the baseball season is. At 162 there will be 5-6 instances where even the best teams will have to recalibrate and struggle through issues.

If you have to wait 36 ​​games for that first Crucible, you’ll think you’re ahead of the game.

“We played extremely good baseball, we can be proud of that,” said Alonso. “We have to do everything we can to keep playing well. It’s been a very fun season so far. We have to get back on the horse tomorrow.”

Buck Showalter
Buck Showalter

That means Monday, and that means the start of a four-game streak with the Cardinals. It was against the Redbirds in St. Louis that the Mets found lightning for the first time around 11 a.m. and turned a 2-0 deficit with two outs in the ninth into a nice 5-2 win.

In recent years, the Cardinals have mostly reminded the Mets what they lacked in professionalism and consistency. So the St. Louis series felt like a bit of a reversal. The Mets can confirm that this week.

“I think we’ve been grinding since the first day of spring,” Showalter said. “Other teams – if they haven’t done it, they will. If not, I want some of that fairy dust. That’s part of the gig. People don’t care about your problems. They’re glad you have them.”

The Mets have kept their troubles modest so far, riding mostly fresh powder and for the first time, a few moguls are in their way. Let’s see what happens this week. Really good teams are defined much more by how they deal with difficulties than by how much they enjoy wealth. Mets are getting their first taste of hardship after hot start in 2022


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