CHICAGO — First of all, let us stipulate for the jury’s benefit that the Chicago White Sox are not a particularly good baseball team at the moment.
Then remember that we’re discussing a Mets team that, back in May, got swept by the Marlins, the National League’s worst entity. And that played for more than three months without winning a road series.
So for these Mets to dispose of these White Sox over three days at Guaranteed Rate Field (worst ballpark name ever), before and after the trade deadline … if it definitely ain’t everything, it surely ain’t nothing, either.
We’re in August, and the Mets, now four games out of a National League wild-card spot, remain surprisingly compelling.
“You see a lot of talent on that side,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said Thursday after Zack Wheeler and the Mets blanked his guys, 4-0, for a series sweep and seventh straight win. “And I think that certainly the three arms that we faced [Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Wheeler], those are probably three No. 1s on any particular ballclub.
“I saw some pretty good at-bats against us. We threw some guys that were throwing pretty well, as well. So I think when you face good pitching, at the end of the day, you’ve got to be able to take advantage of any mistake that somebody makes, take those that you can get. They were able to do that against us in this particular series.
“It’s a pretty good-looking ballclub.”
Wheeler, in his first start since not getting dealt at the deadline, dominated the reeling Chisox, who have lost eight of nine, allowing four hits and no walks over seven innings while striking out seven. It marked a promising first step in a perilous route toward his free agency, which can now be seriously complicated and compromised by the qualifying offer the Mets can and should tender to him. Robinson Cano, who began the day in a 2-for-30 rut since going deep thrice on July 23, homered and doubled and drove home two runs. Shortstop Amed Rosario and right fielder Jeff McNeil supported Wheeler with stellar defense.
“Everything’s clicking right now, and we’re just rolling,” Wheeler said. “Hopefully, we can keep it going.”
On they went to Pittsburgh, where they’ll face the same lousy Pirates team they just swept last weekend at Citi Field; new guy Marcus Stroman will make his Mets debut on Saturday night at PNC Park. From there, it’ll be back home for four games with those craptacular Marlins. They’ll need to feast on those carcasses, for the schedule turns serious after that with the Nationals coming to New York and then a trip to Atlanta to face the NL East-leading Braves.
Remember last winter when new Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen celebrated his team’s additions while ignoring the work the Nats, Braves and Phillies also did? The Mets must make sure not to repeat that mistake of arrogance, since they still stand in fourth place and each of their superiors upgraded at the trade deadline just as they added Stroman.
To reiterate a point made previously under this byline, the Mets’ sort-of-all-in approach doesn’t pass any reasonable smell test, and they’ll pay the price sooner than later for their constant draining of their farm system. Why worry about tomorrow, however, when today is so much fun? And these Mets, at the moment, are fun.
“We’ve got a good chemistry in here,” Cano said. “When you win, you get to celebrate.”
Plenty of celebrations going on in Mets Land. Considering that this season’s two immediate predecessors were dead in the water by the start of August, well … you’ll take what you can get, right?
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