A 2–4 start is not that big of a deal. After all, the 1969 Mets started 2–4, and they ended up winning the World Series and reuniting Dennis Quaid with his father. But for this year’s Mets, this is a very bad time to be starting 2–4.
The Mets had, arguably, their two biggest competitors for third place in the NL East — now there’s a goal! — in town for the first week of the season, and they lost both series. Sunday’s loss, being shut out by Livan freaking Hernandez, was particularly demoralizing and inspired manager Jerry Manuel to say his team was “unprepared,” which is never a smart thing to say when you are the man in charge of preparing one’s team. Considering the pressure on Manuel and general manager Omar Minaya to produce some results as early as possible, it feels like it’s getting late early. Minaya, always an expert in calm, steady leadership, is nonplussed.
“It’s early in the year. One week you have one concern, the next week you have another. You always like to be around .500 and we have a tough road trip. But we got Jose Reyes back. … If we had won (Sunday), we would’ve ended the home stand at .500.
He’s right, obviously: A 2–4 stretch at any other time of the season would be little to worry about. But the Mets do have a tough trip coming up: three games in Colorado and three games in St. Louis, both teams that made the playoffs last season and are arguably stronger this year. What do the Mets have to do in the next six games to not make everyone more worried? 3–3? Another 2–4 puts them at 4–8, and any worse, this thing will really get away from them. A 3–3 trip keeps matters manageable. And a 3–3 trip is gonna be tough. It’s John Maine versus Greg Smith in Coors Field tonight, but it’s really about the bats. And it’s really about keeping this situation under control.