Consider the landscape just one week ago, when the Mets were the Titanic and the front-running Nationals were a well-placed iceberg.
No matter the names, or the order in which they appeared on the lineup card. manager Terry Collins endured the same middling results. That collective failure threatened to sink a season of promise.
But since that three-game sweep, the Mets have found new life. Now, when the Nationals arrive here on Thursday, they’ll still be entrenched in first place though well within reach for the Mets.
“We have our work cut out for us this weekend,” Collins said, after Wednesday’s 4-2 victory over the Marlins.
Complicating matters, of course, will be the absence of Matt Harvey. About two hours after the game, he was placed on the 15-day DL with shoulder discomfort.
The club announced that he will see a St. Louis-based vascular specialist, and a source told Newsday’s David Lennon that the Mets have concerns that Harvey is dealing with thoracic outlet syndrome, which stems from the compression of blood vessels and nerves.
It is the latest blow to what has been a horrific season for Harvey, the owner of a 4.86 ERA. He and the club have insisted throughout his struggles that he’s been healthy.
Harvey was slated to start on Saturday. It’s unclear who will take his place.
But by sweeping the Cubs, and taking two of three from the Marlins, the Mets have steadied themselves even in the face of more bad news.
On Wednesday, Giancarlo Stanton smashed two homers off Jacob deGrom, the slugger’s second straight multi-homer game and his fifth against the Mets, the most against any opponent. But he was matched by Wilmer Flores, who slugged a pair of homers himself.
Flores’ second two-homer game in four days came as Jose Reyes showed his first signs of life, setting up an intriguing battle for who will man third base.
“I feel very good, getting good pitches to hit, and seeing the ball well,” said Flores, who may be forced back into a utility role that proved to be an ill fit earlier this season.
Reyes is in line to supplant Flores, who has caught fire since playing every day in place of David Wright. One night after going hitless in his first game for the Mets since 2011, Reyes ripped a pair of doubles, finishing 2-for-4 in his second game since being promoted.
“Today was just like a normal day for me,” said Reyes, who battled nerves the night before.
Indeed, Reyes looked more comfortable in the second day of his second chance with the Mets, all following his 52-game suspension from his Oct. 31 arrest for domestic violence. Again, he was showered with cheers.
So, who plays third base moving forward? Collins refuses to say.
Meanwhile, despite sagging velocity early in the season, deGrom capped an impressive first half, improving to 5-4 after holding the Marlins to two runs in seven innings. In his final start before the All-Star break, deGrom tossed a season-high 117 pitches.
“It’s better than where I started,” said deGrom, who lowered his ERA to 2.61. “
Curtis Granderson, moved into the second spot with Reyes leading off, took advantage of a chance to deliver with runners on base. With runners on second and third, Granderson laced a one-out single to right, clearing the bases in the third and giving the Mets a 3-0 advantage.
Granderson entered play hitting just .132 with runners in scoring position.
But that’s the kind of week the Mets have enjoyed, fortunate timing ahead of a meeting with the Nationals.
“We’re going to approach these next four games as any other game,” Mets second baseman Neil Walker said. “But at the same time understanding where we are right now and where we want to be.”