The Arizona Diamondbacks were established in 1998, a newly minted National League expansion team. They have had their fair share of success in a pretty short time frame, winning the NL West in only their second year of existence, winning a World Championship two years later – wrecking the Yankees’ latest dynasty in the process – and reaching the post-season three more times after that. All in the space of 17 seasons. All in all, they have been one of the most successful expansion franchises in MLB history.
Except when the Mets show up.
Historically, the Mets have always seemed to face Arizona at the precise moment they’ve needed to get well. Let’s take 2006 as an example. That was a great year for the Mets, wasn’t it? They took off in the third game of the season and never looked back. True. But after their blazing 8-1 start, they leveled off at the 10-12-games-over-.500 range. Not exactly bumping along, but not setting the world afire anymore, either. They arrived in Arizona smack in the middle of a bizarre and seemingly grueling road trip that took them from San Francisco to Los Angeles to Arizona to Philadelphia. One would think they’d be worn out and weary. One would be wrong. The Mets destroyed the D-Backs in that four-game set, winning the scoring battle 37-9 in a four-game sweep. That was really what propelled that team forward, that team that got all the way to within a strike of the World Series. That was really when 2006 became 2006. The Mets have simply enjoyed facing the Snakes whatever the occasion, be it playoffs – hello Todd Pratt! – or regular season.
It was no different the past three days. The Mets arrived in Phoenix absolutely reeling, having dropped two-of-three to the Angels. What was needed was stout pitching and clutch hitting – elements missing from the series in Anaheim. That’s just what the Mets got. In the first game, Zack Wheeler pitched his best game of the year, the bats came through when it mattered and the Mets won 7-3. In game two, Jenrry Mejia pitched his best game of the year and the bats exploded and the Mets won 9-0. In the finale, Dillon Gee pitched his best game of the year and the Mets generated just enough offense to keep the lead until the Diamondbacks decided to throw the ball all over the field in the ninth and the Mets won 5-2. This was enough to turn the fans giddy, despite the fact that Arizona has the worst record in the majors, that their pitching staff has started off the season in a full nosedive and that there’s a general funk around the Diamondbacks right now, one that rivals the black cloud over Citi Field. The Mets are coming home over .500! Even your most cynical intrepid columnist has to admit that this nine-game road trip turned out a lot better than was originally projected. I was hoping for 5-4, “knowing” that at best they’d go 4-5. But 6-3 and coming home over .500?
Shows you what I “know.”
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