Mets already have shown how to hold off Braves in NL East

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Look, as much as we try to convince Mets fans that, no, the baseball gods do not conspire in judgment against them, they always provide a thick pile of rebuttal arguments. There have been June swoons. There have been September sags. Last year, of course, they were in first place for 103 days, none of them after Aug. 7.

So it is a bit of a unique thing, urging the utility of rose-colored glasses.

It is a bit odd, advising against sitting vigil for the inevitable skyfall.

It is a bit strange, counseling the constituency that maybe, just maybe, this is the new normal.

So the most compelling testimony the Mets can provide their most fiercely devoted (and most fervently pessimistic) true believers is precisely what they did Tuesday night: shutting out the Brewers 4-0 behind eight brilliant innings from a resurgent Chris Bassitt, opening a seven-day homestand that follows a 10-game road swing west that, despite a 5-5 record and a shrinkage of 5 ½ games off their lead, had to be termed successful.

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The Mets celebrate it’s 4-0 win over the Brewers on Tuesday.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Mets fans must get used to a different kind of tone around this team. There are no absolutes anymore. As the Braves and Phillies have recently proven they will not, in fact, clinch the NL East by July 4, but neither will they likely be entering the tuck position off the high board, either. It has been, to date, a season of balance and nuance.

Let’s just take some of Tuesday’s prevailing issues.

Both Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom reported positive steps in their comebacks from, respectively, oblique and shoulder issues. This flies in the face of the way seemingly 85 percent of Mets injuries have been perceived (and, let’s be real, there are still many Mets fans who won’t believe deGrom is OK until he makes three starts in a row). But both pitchers insist: it’s true. It’s real.

Even the stampeding Braves and the charging Phillies can offer something beyond concern, if you let them. For weeks we heard about how the Mets were beating up on teams with losing records. Well, a huge chunk of that were the 16 games the Mets had played against the Braves and the Phillies, who were both languishing. Now, those 16 games have come against teams with winning records.

That didn’t do it for you, either?

Then just keep it simple: the Mets continue to play terrific baseball. That 5-5 West Coast trip? There isn’t a Mets fan alive who wouldn’t have signed up for 5-5. And Tuesday, the Mets turned in one of their quintessential drip-drip-drip rallies to put a 3-spot on the board early, thanks to a few good bounces and few more great at-bats. Bassitt faced two batters over the minimum, his best start in a month.

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The Mets opened their homestand with a win over the Braves.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

You play that well in Queens, it doesn’t matter how things go in Atlanta, or in Philadelphia, or anywhere else. It was always hard to take that 10 ½-game cushion too seriously; the defending-champ Braves’ engine was going to fire eventually. It has fired. They win every day. And are still five games in arrears.

“We did a lot of good things tonight,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said.

They’ve done a lot of good things all year; the fact that the Braves and Phillies have decided to join the party doesn’t alter the Mets’ narrative at all. It has, from Day 1 , been a fundamental element of the ’22 Mets’ DNA that they are almost obsessively unconcerned with any of the other 29 teams in baseball, any of the other 14 teams in the National League, any of the other four teams in the East.

Even when some of those teams seem to have flames shooting out of their bats.

“I know you might roll your eyes,” Showalter had said before the game. “I haven’t looked at the standings since we left, except for the plane coming back.”

Of course he didn’t. All the standings do is tempt you to keep your eyes off matters at hand. If the East standings had been tossed upside down by a 12-game Mets losing streak, that’s one thing. Not a thing any of them can do about the Braves. So they move along. And keep winning. Do that, everything else will take care of itself. Even a pessimist knows as much.



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