What a strange phenomenon these 2008 Mets are.
They have been so frustrating, yet at times so fun to watch, that it makes me hope they frustrate me in this way right through the end of October. (Unlike, say, June, when I couldn't wait for the season to be over.)
Mr. Frustration himself, Carlos Beltran, caused the latest excitement with his 9th inning grand slam Friday night in Florida, following two hits that came after the Mets were down to their last strike, and a hit-by-pitch to the other former Mr. Frustration (Carlos Delgado). The Mets survived their bullpen in the ninth to record the come-from-behind win.
And there's the strange part. Once again, the Mets have responded in a most unlikely way to the worst-case scenario. And maybe that's because of 2007.
Last year, the Mets lost one heartbreaker after another down the stretch, suffering the worst collapse in history, and missing the post-season. This year, after every heartbreaker, the Mets seem to come back stronger.
-Heartbreak: Tuesday night, August 26th, against Philadelphia - The Mets blew that 7-0 lead in Philly, and lost 8-7 in 13 innings. Just a horrible loss. What did they do?
Response: They came back to win the second game in that 2-game series by coming from behind in the 8th inning, and then had their most dramatic win of the season in Florida Friday night.
-Heartbreak: Monday, August 11, against Pittsburgh - The Mets took a 5-1 lead into the 7th inning, then gave up 6 runs over the final three innings (3 in the ninth) to lose, 7-5.
Response: They responded by running off six straight wins against the Nationals and the same Pirates in Pittsburgh.
-Heartbreak: Tuesday, July 22, against Philadelphia - The Mets had a 5-2 lead in the 9th inning (after 8 strong innings by Johan Santana), when a parade of relievers gave up 6 runs to lose, 8-6 against the Phillies.
Response: The Mets took the next two against Philly.
-Heartbreak: Friday, July 4, against Philadelphia - Another wasted effort by Johan Santana - 8 strong innings with nothing to show for it. A run in the bottom of the ninth against Duaner Sanchez wins it for Philadelphia.
Response: The Mets won their next ten games, straddling the All Star break, to put themselves back in the picture as not only a team to beat in the division, but in the National League.
This resilience the Mets have shown throughout the year, especially against the Phillies, is a big part of what was lacking down the stretch last season. It's the sole reason the Mets are 10-5 against the Phillies this season, with three head-to-head games remaining. And it's a big part of why they have a 2-game lead in the division as we enter the final month of the season.