BY JOE RINI
While fireworks light the sky above Citi Field after the Mets- Rangers game on Friday July 4th, the Mets and their fans will hope the upcoming 10 game homestand provides a spark with the team heading toward the All-Star break and the second half of the 2014 season.
The homestand starting this weekend follows a period where the Mets had played 25 of their last 33 games on the road. After playing respectably for most of this stretch, the Amazins dropped five of six games at Pittsburgh and Atlanta, falling to a season high of 10 games under .500 after Tuesday’s 5-4 loss to the Braves at Turner Field.
Games decided by one-run have been particularly difficult for the Mets this season. While the Mets and the first place Braves sport similar numbers offensively, their records in one run games are nearly reverse images with the Braves at 17-10 and the Mets at 10- 20.
The Mets hope the return of David Wright on Friday will provide a boost to the lineup. The Mets third baseman has been out since last Friday when a sore left shoulder flared up again. As Wright rehabbed this week, manager Terry Collins said, “I thought it was important to make sure that when he comes back, we don’t have issues. The doctors said, ‘Hey look, he’s going to be great by Friday.’ So we’ll just get by until then.”
Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson continued his inspired play of June with two hits and a two-run homer on the first day of July against Atlanta. Also, catcher Travis d’Arnaud has shown that his hot hitting in Las Vegas did not stay in Las Vegas as he has batted .333 since his return from the Mets Triple-A affiliate. Speaking of
his current approach at the plate, d’Arnaud said, “It’s a whole mindset thing. If I hit the ball hard at somebody, I don’t get down on myself. As long as I hit the ball hard, that’s when I’m content.”
On a sad note, the Mets mourned the passing of Frank Cashen this past Monday at the age of 88. The “architect” of the 1986 championship team, Cashen had been an executive in the front office of the great Baltimore Orioles teams of the 1960’s and 1970’s when the Mets new ownership of Fred Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday hired him for the general manager’s job in 1980. His astute trades brought Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, Bobby Ojeda and the Mets second World Championship to New York.
Speaking of Cashen, Ojeda said, “He was by far the smartest baseball man I’ve ever been in contact with. What the players loved about him was he cared more about you as a person than what you did on the baseball field.”
The Mets enter play on Wednesday with a record of 37-47 and nine games out of first place. The upcoming 10 game homestand includes series against the Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, and Miami Marlins.