Little has gone according to plan for the Mets, who have muddled through injuries that have stretched and strained virtually every part of its roster.
From starters to relievers, stars to bit players, no one has been immune.
Yet as the summer begins to heat up, the Mets have lingered atop the NL East like unexpected party guests. They only lengthened their lead Friday night, beating the Braves, 5-3, to move 1 1/2 games ahead of the Nationals for divisional supremacy.
Shortstop Wilmer Flores bashed his team-leading 10th home run and John Mayberry Jr. hit a two-run shot, adding to what has been an encouraging turnaround for what had been a woefully unproductive bench.
Meanwhile, Bartolo Colon improved to 9-4, tying the Pirates' Gerrit Cole for the big-league lead in victories. "It's a great feeling," said the age-defying Colon, who held the Braves to two runs in six innings.
It mattered little that the 42-year-old veteran took the mound without his best command. And that as a result, the fastball pitcher had to mix more breaking pitches into his repertoire. "Tonight he really had to work for it," manager Terry Collins said. "And he kept us in it."
With the win, the Mets improved to 22-11 against divisional foes while improving to 23-10 at Citi Field, the second-best home start in team history through 33 games.
Those successes have helped to cover up some of the sting that has come since the end of an 11-game winning streak in April. The downturn has coincided with mounting injuries.
David Wright and Daniel Murphy remain on the disabled list. And yesterday, the bullpen took another hit when the Mets sent rookie Eric Goeddel to the disabled list with a strained elbow.
Meanwhile, the expected birth of Jeurys Familia's first child brought forth yet another added complication. Collins couldn't know for sure whether he'd have his closer available for a save situation.
However, in the ninth Familia survived a bases-loaded scare to nail down his 18th save. With one out, he allowed a hit and a pair of walks to bring up cleanup hitter Nick Markakis. But Markakis hit into a game-ending double play.
"Huge pitch right there in that situation," Collins said of Familia, who then headed straight to the hospital so he could tend to his fiancee.
Familia had a lead to protect thanks to an offense that tagged Braves lefty Alex Wood (4-4, 3.56 ERA) for four runs over 6 1/3 innings.
Flores, starting in the cleanup spot for the first time in his career, quickly looked the part. His solo shot in the second gave the Mets a lead they would never relinquish.
"He has been able to tune out a lot of critics and overcome a lot of things," said Michael Cuddyer, who ripped an RBI double to give the Mets an insurance run in the seventh.
Flores' 10th homer tied him with Jhonny Peralta for the major-league lead in homers.
Few had envisioned such power from Flores, who has used his surge at the plate to steadily quiet concerns about his lack of defensive range at shortstop. "That is in the past," Flores said. "I don't even remember that."