(Citi Field on Friday afternoon – Photo by Jason Schott)
The Mets host the Washington Nationals on Friday night at Citi Field on quite a roll, as they won 13 of their prior 14 games.
They have run their record to 59-56, and trail Milwaukee by a half-game for the second Wild Card spot, and the Nats by just 2 1/2 games for the top Wild Card seed.
This is quite a turnaround in a couple weeks for the Mets, and far different than when Washington came into New York in late May with both teams hanging on for relevancy and with the job statuses of both managers, the Mets’ Mickey Callaway and Washington’s Dave Martinez, a point of discussion.
“I’m excited that the Washington Nationals are here in front of our fans in this situation,” Callaway said of getting to play their rivals in meaningful games in August. “This is what our fans deserve, there’s going to be energy and it’s going to be fun.”
Callaway then said of the fact that they can prove how good they are against Washington after racking up wins against three weaker teams in Pittsburgh, Miami, and the Chicago White Sox, “I think that, obviously, we understand what the schedule’s been, but we’re playing good baseball, and if we continue to play the way we have and sync everything up, we’re not too worried about who our opponent is. We have to take care of ourselves first, play to our strengths, do all the small things right, and I feel like we have the talent to compete with everybody.”
Marcus Stroman will make his Citi Field debut for the Mets against Washington’s Stephen Strasburg. His debut with the team, after his stunning acquisition on July 28, came last Saturday night in Pittsburgh.
Callaway said before the game of the energy Stroman brings to the team, “I think we’re going to find more and more out about that as we go, right. We’ve seen him pitch once; even when he’s in the weight room, our strength coaches are like ‘this guy’s energy’s off the charts,’ you know, he’s bouncing off the walls, he’s getting his work done, so we’re excited that he’s like that. It’s good to have different personalities. I’m sure you guys know how laid back most of our starters are, and to have one that’s a little bit of a different mold is pretty cool, and what an athlete, and I’m excited to watch him pitch here in New York.”
Callaway said on whether he feels any vindication for this recent hot stretch the Mets have been on after being questioned if he’s up for this job, “You know what, I don’t think, when I look at my job, that I’m trying to be someone special. My only motivating factor is to do something special with a group of guys. So, none of that stuff really bothers me, I come every day and try to do my job to the best of my ability, and that’s what I hang my hat on at the end of the day.
“I think everybody’s entitled to their opinion, and I understand at times things have not gone great, and I share in their frustrations during those times, I promise them, but my job is to be consistent, to be a leader, and to make sure these guys never quit.”