Obviously, what happens in the first three games of the season doesn't actually mean anything. (Yankees fans and Red Sox fans are whispering this over and over to themselves as they rock back and forth in the fetal position, naked in the shower, screaming.) Mets fans shouldn't get too excited about their three-game sweep of the Braves, the same way that the Braves shouldn't feel horrible. This is basic, established information; there's no need to go much more into it, yes? All right, cool, because hey, Mets fans: That was kind of awesome, wasn't it?
The Mets blasted the Braves this weekend, outscoring Atlanta 12-7, and it felt like the margin was actually larger than that: A shutout in the first game, a multihomer game for Lucas Duda on Saturday, and a no-hit bid yesterday by Jon Niese will do that. Frankly, the Mets felt in control of every game, start to finish, even when they were tied. It's the very definition of a small sample size, but it's not like the Mets are some sort of sub-major-league team, destined to lose 120 games in their 50th anniversary season in some sort of sadistic kismet. This is a real, live team.
One of the main reasons, as pointed out by David Schoenfield of ESPN's SweetSpot blog, is that the Mets know how to take pitches. None of the Braves starters over the weekend made it into the sixth inning, thanks to the patience at the top of the lineup. (Schoenfield also reminded us that the Mets led the NL East in runs scored last year.) Every Mets hitter has some sort of highlight — even Jason Bay — except for Ike Davis; the Mets' cleanup hitter is zero-for-twelve so far. When the guy who many anticipate will be the best hitter on the team this year is hitless, and you're 3-0, you must feel pleased. Particularly when Duda is hitting homers, like he did Saturday, that wouldn't have been out last year.
But what are we talking about? The real reason the Mets swept the Braves was their pitching. Johan Santana was great if not particularly impressive, if that makes sense, R.A. Dickey was his steady self, and Jon Niese — who a good Mets friend of ours is certain will be the first Met to ever throw a no-hitter — was particularly outstanding yesterday, taking a no-hitter into to the seventh inning before the Braves finally broke through. Frank Francisco, the supposedly shaky closer who notoriously has trouble at the beginning of seasons, saved all three games. Someone actually used the word "Byrdakmania." It's heady times.
The Mets have 159 games left to go — the first of them is tonight at Citi Field against Washington; the pitching matchup is Mike Pelfrey versus Edwin Jackson, which is not nearly as exciting as that Johan Santana–Stephen Strasburg matchup on Wednesday — and they're going to lose a lot of them. Maybe (probably?) most of them. But right now, the Mets are 3-0, and the Yankees are 0-3, and everything is just terrific in the land of Mr. Met. For this first time in many a moon, his smile doesn't feel faintly mocking!