By Mike Steffanos
Game 5: Braves 3 - Mets 1
Last year my biggest frustration with the Mets was with how often in games against the Braves and Phillies they seemed to lack the focus and determination of their opponent. I have to admit coming into this series against the Braves, I wondered what I would see in this regard.
Well, one rainout and two dreary losses later, I guess I'm grateful that the Mets seemed to have left that lackadaisical attitude with the rest of the baggage from last year. Even in two games where their offense left much to be desired, the Mets were taking good at bats for the most part, even if the results weren't there. I'm grateful that I'm not watching them drop games that they seemed to take for granted. Also, while I suspect the offense might be an issue all season, they're certainly better than we saw the last two days.
On the other hand, they did lose both of the games actually played this weekend. I appreciated today's ninth inning rally, but the phrase "too little, too late" would definitely apply here. I won't go crazy 5 games into the season as some seem inclined to do, but the bottom line is... well, it's the bottom line.
So, while allowing a nice pretty gold star for competing, ultimately this team will be judged, and rightfully so, on getting it done -- finding ways to beat Atlanta, Philadelphia and their other opponents night after night. The jobs of the manager, many of the players and to some extent the GM hinge on the 2008 Mets being "can-do" rather than "we'll get them next time."
You can dissect individual plays. The one run against Santana scored on a 2-out hit that Pagan should have made the play on. Heilman simply has to learn how not to leave that changeup up in the zone in spots like this. I respect what he's done here, but that simply happens too often in key spots. Schneider was robbed of a game-tying double in a ninth inning that featured some nice at bats in a key situation -- but why was Carlos Beltran out looking at a fastball with two strikes?
In the end, all that matters is the final score. They didn't get it done this weekend, and they have to find a way to change that. Playing hard isn't enough.