It just so happened that over the course of this very strange, very young baseball season, the Mets have acquired a certain set of peculiar skills.
No, it doesn’t have too much to do with baserunning or pitching or defense, though all those things looked great in their three previous games with the Phillies. It has to do with doing nothing at all — adapting to postponement after postponement while still keeping fresh and honing their game for what feels like the rare days they actually play.
They got to practice a little more on Thursday, when they were greeted with their third postponement in the last five days, and their sixth overall, as the series finale against the Phillies was pushed back because of rain. The game was rescheduled for June 25 as part of a single-admission doubleheader, with Game 1 starting at 4:10 and both games being seven innings long.
Previously, Luis Rojas was concerned about all the lag time — he saw his batters struggling to catch up to the fastball or identify the breaking ball, and he was looking at his bullpen struggle. That wasn’t so much on display anymore Thursday, after the Mets suffered back-to-back postponements earlier in the week only to string together three straight convincing wins against the Phillies.
"We just [adapted] when we had the two games before this series" pushed back, Rojas said. "So I think the guys will be prepared [for whatever] comes our way. Yeah, we didn’t play today — we wanted to play — but what else can we do? We just [look] toward tomorrow and see what comes our way."
Naturally, Friday isn’t looking all that great, either: The Mets travel to Colorado, where the temperature is predicted to be below freezing and snow is in the forecast. Jacob deGrom, who was scheduled to pitch Thursday, will be moved to Friday night, Rojas said.
That particular change was courtesy of a hard-earned lesson: Last Sunday, the Mets burned Marcus Stroman after only nine pitches before the game was suspended because of rain. They were wary of doing anything resembling that with their ace Thursday, and deGrom didn’t even warm up. By the time the game was called, he felt fresh enough to play some casual catch (in the rain) with Tomas Nido.
"It happened to us on Sunday and we made a big mistake there," Rojas said.
Joey Lucchesi will get the start on Saturday, and Stroman will close it out on Sunday. Lucchesi has thrown only two innings this season, but the Mets seem confident that he’s adequately stretched out; they also plan to forego an opener for him, Rojas said.
"He had a heavy bullpen the other day . . . simulating a start, so he should be ready to go as long as he can give us," Rojas said. "Then we’ll see how the game is unfolding" and go from there.
Either way, Rojas says his team has shown significant progress the last few days, and believes it will just continue in Colorado, where the thin air has done little to boost the ailing Rockies offense — they’re hitting just .221, 23rd in the league. Mets pitching, on the other hand, is third-best in the league, with a 2.81 ERA.
"The guys are looking better and better the more chances we have to play," Rojas said. There’s "a lot of success from all areas. We played really good defense, we pitched really well. I think those two went hand in hand and that led to us staying in the game and getting some big hits and [that allowed] the confidence level of the hitters to rise up a little bit."
Though the Mets weren’t formally able to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day because of the rainout, Rojas said he was meditating on the Hall of Famer’s contributions in breaking the color barrier.
"It’s a big day," said Rojas, who is Dominican. "We can only say thank you to Jackie Robinson . . . Me being here right now and doing what I love on a daily basis is because of him. I think he led to a lot of doors being open for the inclusion of different ethnicities in the game . . . He impacted a lot of people. He impacted a lot of lives."
Sign up for Newsday’s Mets Messages for updates directly to your phone via text, free with a Newsday digital subscription. Learn more at newsday.com/metstext.