Mets pitcher Sean Reid-Foley reacts after the last out against...

Mets pitcher Sean Reid-Foley reacts after the last out against the Padres during the ninth inning of an MLB game at Citi Field on Sunday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Turns out the Mets are who they were supposed to be after all.

So don’t make those alternative October plans just yet.

David Stearns’ blueprint for the 2024 season was a fairly simple one for his rookie season as the team's president of baseball operations: Evaluate the in-house talent, don’t go crazy with the owner’s checkbook and conservatively build a competitive roster that has a legit shot at a wild-card berth.

Stearns had checked the first two boxes, but the third was looking a bit iffy at the end of  May. It’s time to put a checkmark there, too, after the Mets — now “hitting on all cylinders,” in Pete Alonso's words — completed a three-game sweep of the Padres with Sunday’s 11-6 victory before a crowd of 31,054 at Citi Field.

Stearns told everyone what this team was going to be. So did Steve Cohen. But it took the players until mid-June to deliver on that modest pledge, and there’s no reason to think  they can’t keep this going for a while.

Since their May 29 team meeting, the Mets are 11-4, slashing their wild-card deficit to 1 1/2 games, and are only four games under .500 (33-37).

Maybe that doesn’t fit some people’s idea of what a traditional playoff team should look like. But in 2024, with the expanded October tournament, the Mets are very much alive in the wild-card race. And if you’re wondering how they stack up to the five teams ahead of them (the Mets are tied with the Cubs) Carlos Mendoza & Co. just kicked around the Padres, the club currently even with the Nationals for the third wild card.

 

“I thought we always were in the postseason race,” said Francisco Lindor, whose leadoff homer — the 19th of his career — sparked the Mets’ four-run first inning. “Some people had us out. But in my mind, I felt like we got the team, we have the personnel. I still haven’t looked at the standings, I still haven’t looked at the record, but we just got to keep climbing the mound.”

That mound doesn’t look like Everest anymore. And if the Mets can sustain the type of offensive attack they unleashed Sunday against Dylan Cease and the Padres, it could be a steady ascent.

This wasn’t merely the J.D. Martinez Show, though the DH did run his consecutive on-base streak to 10 straight plate appearances (two walks, two-run double) before finally striking out in the eighth inning.

Alonso (five RBIs) homered for the first time since June 4, a three-run blast in the first inning, and Luis Torrens added some much-needed insurance by going deep to lead off the eighth, when the Mets scored four runs to match the Padres' output in the top of the inning. The previously slumping Brandon Nimmo had his first three-hit game since a 4-for-4 game on April 8 in Atlanta. Every Met in the starting lineup reached base at least once — even Jeff McNeil, who joined the club in the eighth inning with a 66-mph looper into shallow rightfield that he turned into a hustle double.

Lately, it’s not unusual to see groups of Mets discussing their at-bats in the postgame clubhouse, something that Lindor said started after last month’s series in Cleveland, where Carlos Beltran — now an assistant GM — helped facilitate those talks. The locker-side chats seemed to intensify following the players-only meeting after the Dodgers disaster, and it’s probably not a coincidence that the Mets have been one of MLB’s best offensive teams since then (.284 batting average, .840 OPS, 20 homers in those 15 games).

So how’d it happen?

“I think our self-belief, the amount of work that we put in and the pride that we take in what we do,” Alonso said. “I also think that over the course of a 162-game season, certain things early can get highlighted — either success or struggles. But now we’re kind of progressing, we’re starting to come into ourselves, understand our identity and hit our stride a little bit.”

Unlike Lindor, Alonso instantly copped to knowing the Mets’ wild-card deficit after the game. But they’re a long, long way from October. The next big date on the calendar is July 30, aka the trade deadline, and the Mets likely are changing Stearns’ viewpoint regarding any roster makeover.

Two weeks ago, a fire sale seemed all but guaranteed. But the Mets’ resurgence, which now officially feels real after the 5-1 homestand, should be changing some minds. With mediocrity run amok in the National League, these Mets — maybe spurred by some pitching help at the deadline — could easily qualify for October.

Finally, the Mets are doing what they were designed to do. Cohen OK’d the last-minute signing of Martinez because he figured the elite DH could be a difference-maker. After a sluggish start, he's barely made an out lately. He delivered his first career walk-off homer Thursday, followed that with what proved to be a game-winning two-run double the next night and smacked a pair of homers Saturday afternoon. In the past five games, Martinez is hitting .500 (9-for-18) with three doubles, three homers, five walks and nine RBIs.

“Impressive, but that’s how special he is,” Mendoza said. “To see him get hot like that, he can carry a team.”

If the Mets’ full-lineup outburst Sunday was a legit preview of what’s ahead, they won’t need to be carried. Or worry so much about the bullpen’s wobbly performance (mostly attributed to Jake Diekman’s meltdown).

“We’re in a good spot right now,” Lindor said.

Or you could say the Mets are right where they’re supposed to be.

ONE-DAY SALE26¢ for 5 6 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME