On the field, the Mets had a fabulous month of July. They went 18-8, including a 10-game winning streak from July 5th to July 17th that vaulted them back into contention and put them, briefly, into first place. The streak was their longest in 17 years, the longest this year in the NL, and tied with Minnesota for the longest this year in the majors. Jose Reyes tied for the major-league lead in hits for the month with 39 and was tied for the most triples with 4. Fernando Tatis, given the chance to play regularly with the injuries to Moises Alou and Ryan Church, led the majors with a .397 batting average for the month. Carlos Delgado went on a tear at the plate and returned to the clean-up spot. Oliver Perez led the majors with a 1.38 ERA for the month. More details about the Mets’ performance for the month are available in the the MLB “Gameday Press Pass” for August 1.
Off the field, however, things didn’t go so well. Ryan Church continued to suffer from the effects of post-concussion syndrome. Moises Alou tore a hamstring and was lost for the season, with retirement a stron possibility. Pedro Martinez’s father passed away. And Omar Minaya failed to make any deals by the non-waiver trading deadline of July 31 to bolster some of the team’s weakenesses.
The first three days of August have borne out the seriousness of those weaknesses. Minaya was in the market for a corner outfielder but failed to land ex-Met Xavier Nady, who went to the Yankees from the Pirates. Now the mets are platooning two rookies, Nick Evans and Daniel Murphy, in left field, with Endy Chavez returning to his role as the fourth outfielder and lead bench player.
Probably more significantly, Minaya was interested in upgrading his bullpen, after closer Billy Wagner had an MRI and had to miss a day and Duaner Sanchez failed miserably as his understudy, in what turned out to be a waste of eight superb innings from Johan Santana and a come-from-behind Phillies win in the ninth inning (July 22). But July 31 came and went with no help for the bullpen.
And so what happens? The bullpen blows the first two games in August, both of the losses charged to Aaron Heilman, the second occurring after Wagner fails to hold a two-run lead in the ninth. And then, on August 3, the offense hints that it might have been playing over its head during the previous month and fails to score any runs. All this to the Houston Astros, who — even with the sweep of the Mets — are four games under .500 and 13 games behind the Cubs. Meanwhile, John Maine has been put on the disabled list, and Wagner may follow him, pending the results of another MRI.
Just when when we were ready to think that the team had finally put last year’s choke behind them . . .