Mets starting pitcher Luis Severino reacts to a play against...

Mets starting pitcher Luis Severino reacts to a play against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the third inning of an MLB baseball game at Citi Field on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Mets completed a three-game sweep of the once-but-no-longer-surprising Pirates with Wednesday’s 9-1 rout. And in the truest sign yet their fortunes may be changing, the game’s final out narrowly beat the heavy rain at Citi Field by a matter of minutes.

As for brooming the Buccos, here were three pivotal plays from each comeback win.

Monday: a double steal, executed by Jeff McNeil and DJ Stewart, tees up Harrison Bader’s go-ahead, two-run double in the eighth inning.

Tuesday: Pete Alonso jogs home with the go-ahead run when Pirates reliever Jose Hernandez commits a balk before even throwing a pitch.

Wednesday: McNeil, with two on and none out in the sixth, lays down a sacrifice bunt that Tyrone Taylor (three hits) cashes in later with a two-run single.

Swiping bases? Bunts? Bader and Taylor shouldering the offensive load on days that Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso take a back seat?

Resourceful doesn’t begin to describe what’s happening in Flushing these days. This Mets’ 10-3 streak, after the 0-5 start, is more than just taking advantage of opportunities. They’re figuring out ways to win.


“It’s just good baseball,” McNeil said.

And let’s be honest — doing things we didn’t really expect them to do. With Luis Severino’s six innings (one earned run) Wednesday and another scoreless effort from the bullpen, the Mets’ 3.15 ERA is the lowest in the National League. It was Severino’s first quality start since August of last season (wearing darker blue pinstripes across town) and he now has a 1.13 ERA over his past three starts.

We thought this could be possible for a healthy Severino, but best-case scenarios don’t usually happen when it comes to the Mets’ rotation. Somehow, despite losing two starters by the season’s first week — first Kodai Senga in spring training, followed by Tylor Megill after one start — the starting staff patched together by president of baseball operations David Stearns is holding up its end. The innings count is a little light, forcing the bullpen to work overtime in April, but Stearns is seeking strength in numbers. Wednesday’s finisher Grant Hartwig was the 20th different pitcher used by the Mets through the first 18 games.

“I think everybody here has something to show,” said Severino, who signed a one-year, $13 million prove-it contract to revive his career at age 30. “I think they came here to show everybody that we’re not done. We still have a lot of years to play and we’re still good players.”

That’s what Stearns was banking on when he assembled a roster on short-term deals (and shunned big-money free agents) to embark on this year’s 2024 Mets Evaluation Tour. Determine what he had in-house while creating the flexibility to promote the club’s top prospects in the near term.

Did Stearns and owner Steve Cohen have designs on the playoffs? Sure. Cohen even threw some last-minute money at J.D. Martinez in what turned out to be a sale price impulse buy at the end of March. But even without the $12 million DH — currently in Port St. Lucie rehabbing his sore back — the Mets are operating at an efficiency the former Brewers GM aimed for back in small-market Milwaukee.

As hungry as the Mets were for offense before the Martinez signing, they’ve scraped together enough over the last 11 games (.292 BA, .815 OPS) to get them above .500 (10-8) for the first time since June 3 of last season. They’ve also outscored opponents 71-45 during that stretch.

And this has all been accomplished with shockingly little from the team’s $341 million centerpiece, Lindor, who even with Wednesday’s sixth-inning single (only his fifth hit in 51 ABs off a righty this season) is batting .151 with a .478 OPS. Starling Marte, moved into the No. 2 hole to help Lindor get fastballs, put the Mets in front to stay Wednesday with a two-run homer, No. 150 of his suddenly rejuvenated career.

“We’re playing with a lot of energy,” Marte said.

That comes with winning, of course. And tends to be infectious. Watching Severino jump around the mound, applauding teammates after big defensive plays, was emblematic of that behavior. Alonso made a great diving stop to quiet a Pirates’ rally in the second inning and Zack Short — who started at third due to Brett Baty’s achy hamstring — chipped in with a pretty charging scoop, throwing across his body, to help strand another Pirate in the fourth. Severino’s only run came on Bryan Reynolds’ 63-mph infield single that Lindor ran out of time to throw.

There can be such a thing as too much energy, however. Exhibit A was Francisco Alvarez stealing second base in the second inning, an unexpected dash that had manager Carlos Mendoza holding his breath when he wrenched his wrist holding onto the bag. The smiling Alvarez cracked up the Mets’ bench when he flashed a running motion toward them — “I was wearing my fast cleats today,” Alvarez told me later — but Mendoza is more worried about his young catcher staying healthy than chasing Rickey Henderson’s record.

No worries. Despite Alvarez later taking a Henry Davis backswing off that same wrist, he looked fine shooting hoops with Severino in the clubhouse as the Mets waited for their flight to the West Coast. There’s plenty to feel good about now.


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