Mets 2-0. Magic number: 161

DuqThe Mets are crisp like a cracker (or, matzoh), from the pitching to the defense to the timely-enough hitting. El Duque was terrific, making one wonder if it would be the Mets receiving their championship rings today and not the Cards if he weren’t so fragile last October. And the rest of the team came to play, too, as the Mets handed the Cardinals their second consecutive defeat in as many games this season on Tuesday, a nice 4-1 win in which El Duque showed his worth from the plate, too.

It all adds up to a magic number that’s just …
161.

Mets 1-0. Magic number: 162

Glavinejpg275 Mets baseball, how I missed you so. We had more than 162 games last year, but, boy, did I feel like we should have had another four to seven games. Alas, the 2006 NL East champions will go down as one of the franchise’s best, but shy of elite.

That takes us to this year. Tom Glavine was terrific, as he has been for the last two or so years, the defense was spectacular, which isn’t something quite so common for recent Mets clubs, and the hitting was what we’ve come to expect out of this club.

Does the Mets’ 6-1 dowsing of the Cardinals on Sunday’s season opener make up for Game 7 of the NLCS last year? **** no. But it sure starts ’07 off on the right foot.

Because now, after one game played, the first-place Mets are 1-0 after one game played, lowering their magic number to a mere …

162

Lets go Mets! And don’t believe what everyone says about the pitching staff. They’ll be fine.

The Mets are the National League East champions

Dscn5160The last time I had to wait 18 years for something, I was rewarded with a Selective Service registration card. I consider today’s treat far superior.

Steve Trachsel was brilliant under pressure, offering the kind of out-of-the-blue clutch performance I always seemed to catch Bobby "Fresno" "white" Jones deliver, and John Valentin’s wild mustache ride reached it’s most important stop with a fantastic two-homer performance (both were no-doubters) as the Mets blanked the Marlins, 4-0, on Monday. It was a night frustrations recent (three failed tries at nailing down the clincher) and prolonged (an 18-year wait for a division crown) were both satisfied. Because with that tidy victory, the Mets’ magic number vanished to …

0.

And with it, the 2006 Mets are the National League East champions.

Had the Mets not taken care of business so quickly, they could have "backed into" the NL title, with the Phillies looking ugly in an 11-6 loss to the Cubs. (As an aside, I found it hilarious when others would refer to a 90-win club with a double-digit lead as "backing into" the division crown.) The Mets lead is back to 14 1/2 games (15 in the loss column) over the Phillies with 13 to play (12 for Philly). The Mets are on pace to win 99 games.

The vibe at Shea, where I was able to enjoy the game in person, was electric, although the building didn’t shake quite like it would on occasion in the ’80s (and, particularly at the ’88 clincher, which was was lucky enough to attend as well). The Mets’ return to the top of the NL East is appreciated more than we all probably predicted it would be. The two playoff appearances (one a trip to the World Series) in what will eventually be called  — if it’s not already —  the Piazza Era were utterly unforgettable. But there’s a tangible difference in winning the division outright.

Whether the prolonged drought for a club that never hesitated to spend money (see: Vince Coleman, Eddie Murray, Bobby Bonilla, Bernard Gilkey) spoke more of the excellence of the Braves or of the collective futiilty of the Phillies, Marlins, Expos and Mets is a subject for debate. (The two most recent teams other than the Braves to win the NL East since the Mets last won it are now in the NL Central: the Cubs and the Pirates.)

But what can’t be questioned are the beautiful sights ahead: A new beginning for the Mets, both in the immediate — with the postseason beginning in just two weeks — and in the more distant future as the club is so very well set to begin a division winning streak of their own.

I’ve given much internal debate as to how to continue on with this blog now that the Mets have actually clinched the division, taking my lark of a project in April to an utterly convincing and satisfying conclusion. And while over the next two weeks I’ll likely return sporadically to discuss baseball and the Mets as thoughts come to me, I think it’s proper to deem a new beginning here, too.

That’s because the Mets really do have a new magic number, considering the three NLDS wins, four NLCS victories and four World Series triumphs they’ll need.

So as it stands, putting aside the balance of the regular campaign, we reset the Mets’ magic number, which is barely daunting at just …

11.

And since I can never say it enough — LETS GO METS!

Mets clinch tie for NL East championship

A fait accompli has become a fact: The Mets will play in the postseason.

Thanks to the Philies’ 4-1 loss in Atlanta on Thursday, the Mets’ magic number dropped a thin …

1.

And what that means is the Mets clinched a tie to win the NL East crown with the Phillies, meaning the worst they can do is tie for the division championship. One Phillies Mets victory or one Mets Phillies loss from now through the end of the season will clinch the division for the Mets.

And how magic is the No. 1 in Mets history? Look no further than Mookie.

The Phillies loss, incidentially, dropped them to 16 1/2 games out of first place (17 in the loss column) with 16 to play. The Mets have 17 to play.

Update (10:13 pm): Many thanks to oxfdblue for pointing out my above err. The hand moves faster than the brain sometimes.

Mets 90-55 after 145 played

ReyesglavineIt could have been the night it all was over.

Alas, a late Philly rally over the Braves in their opener of their twin bill dashed the hopes of the Mets clinching the NL East on Wednesday, and the Phils carried the momentum into the nightcap. All the sweep did was delay the inevitable, of course.

Carlos Delgado resumed his role as Captain Clutch, forcing extra innings in Miami, then the Mets let the Marlins do the rest, and their sloppy play led to a 7-4 NY victory.

The win eliminated the Marlins from division contention, while it dropped the Mets’ magic number to clinch the division over the Phillies — the lone rival still in play — to just …

2.

A magic number to this Mets fan, certainly: Old schoolers would cite Marvelous Marv, but for me, it’s all about the greatest manager this franchise has seen: Bobby V.

With the win, the 2006 club became the 10th Mets team to reach 90 wins.

Mets 89-55 after 144 played

CalrosIt’s been ugly for a few days for the Mets, and it looked to be more of the same as Tuesday night’s game sailed (sailed, because of the all the water falling Miami, you see..) into the middle innings. But after a missed opportunity in the seventh, Carlos Delgado punished his former mates and the Mets propelled themselves to a nice 6-4 comeback win over the Marlins.

The happy outcome led to a magic number that shrank to just …

 

3.

That’s over the Phillies, who were rained out vs. the Braves. Oh, yes, the Braves, who cannot win the division. The Mets’ win eliminated "America’s Team" and thus ended Atlant’a insufferable streak. Always happy to see it end, I’m wildly happy that it was the Mets who were able to do it.

Three, by the way, has been quite the digit for light-hitting championship shortstops in Mets history, with both Buddy Harrelson and Rafael Santana donning No. 3 all the way to the World Series crown.

The Mets’ lead is now at 16 1/2 games over both the Phillies and the Marlins. A Mets win tonight would eliminate Florida from the NL East.

Mets 88-54 after 142 played

First off, thanks to Dave, who correctly pointed out my err in projecting what could have happened on Sunday (but didn’t anyway).

The Mets screwed up a bit, too, falling utterly flat against another rookie Dodger in an ugly 9-1 loss. But regardless, the Fish took advantage of a brilliant outing from Dontrelle Willis (who I often will refer to as "keeper league Dontrelle Willis), to stop the Phillies and thus lower the Mets’ magic number to …

4.

Nails. Rusty. Swoboda. Ventura. The Duke. THE MUSTACHE.

A very magic number.

Mets 88-53 after 141 played

Duque_3Add a bit of El Duque doing what he does best this time of year (and will hopefully continue to do into next month) along with what David Wright and Carlos Delgado doing for most of the season (and especially lately) and it yields a silky 3-2 victory Saturday over the Dodgers. Combine that mixture with a Fish comeback over Philly and the Mets’ magic number drops to a barely perceptible …

5.

That’s over the Phillies, with the Marlins at 4. Since that pair conclude their set on Sunday, the best the Mets can lower their magic number Sunday to to clinch the division is 4.

Five, of course, is a very magical number in Mets lore, especially because of a pair of Davids. The first — actually a Davey — led the Mets to World Series glory 20 years back. The more recent David is a blogger here at MLBlogs, but he’s better known as an All-Star on today’s squad trying to equal Johnson’s World Series championship feat. A John and an Ed also took No. 5 to the Fall Classic, and a Tsuyoshi was sparkly, if not a great hitter overall.

The Mets lead, incidentially, is now 16 1/2 games over the Phillies. A Mets win and Braves loss on Saturday would end that damned division streak once and for all.

Mets 87-52 after 139 played

Jose, Jose Jose Jose… Jose.. Jose. Jose, Jose Jose Jose… Jose .. Jose.

On second, third and fourth thought, leadoffman Reyes may just be the MVP. The Mets are always scoring in the first inning — for the most part thanks to his always getting on base — and he’s put together a year worthy of his instructor, Mr. Rickey Henderson himself.

Jose scored a pair, drove in three on an inside-the-parker — his 18th round-tripper of the season — and David Wright and Shawn Green stayed hot to support an absolutely solid Tom Glavine as the Mets shamed the NL West-leading Dodgers, 7-0, on Thursday. Ideally, it’s a playoff preview.

As of this writing the Phillies are leading the Marlins, but regardless of the outcome (since that pair are tied), the Mets’ magic number falls to just …

7.

JOSE, JOSE JOSE JOSE.  And it’s not just the Mets’ current sparkplug who makes this number magic in Mets lore — Todd Pratt (who offered this moment to Mets history, perhaps the greatest I’ve been able to attend in person),  Hubie Brooks (a childhood fave), lunatic Kevin Mitchell and the Mets’ Methuselah, Ed Kranepool, have all donned No. 7.

Mets 86-52 after 138 played

Green_1Laaaareeeee…. Laaarreeee.

Ok, so Larry "Chipper" Jones is out with some kind of ****** strain, but that doesn’t make a Mets sweep of the Braves any less satistying, especially when he’s still in the house and most especially when that damned division streak nears its end.

We’ve already spoken on the Mets doubleheader opener victory, and it was more of the dominant same in the nightcap (really, late-afternooncap). Shawn Green continued to give tzedukah with another homer and a few more hits, while Oliver Perez showed why he was such a stud a few years back with the Bucs and why the Xavier Nady deal may just turn out OK in the end.  And it all added up to a sweet 8-0 win at Shea in Game 2 of the twin bill, capping a remarkable doubleheader in which the Mets swept the BRAVES — I agree, it used to resonate more, but still — behind the likes of Dave Williams and Oliver Perez, and beating John Smoltz in Game 1.  Magicical year for the Mets. And speaking of…

With the sweep, and combined with the Phillies’ loss to the Astros, the Mets’ magic number dipped to a mere…

8.

Eight! Single digits!  The KidYogi!  Um… Carlos Baerga?! Who cares, it’s single digits.

That’s over the Phils AND the Marlins, who we offer props to for having baseball’s first no-hitter since 2004 behind rookie Anibal Sanchez. Good stuff, congrats.

The Mets’ lead swells to 16 1/2 over Philly and Florida after today’s action, and the Mets’ 85 wins after 138 played puts them on a pace to win 101 games.