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Mets finally getting Citi Field mojo back

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The Mets did a lot of things right last year, and because of that, the first 56 games this year have been cast in an especially unfriendly and unforgiving shadow.

The starting pitching was better last year, even when Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer took their respective sabbaticals. Edwin Diaz was lights-out, and it didn’t seem as if the Mets had the army of Quad-A arms marching in from the bullpen that they do now. A lot of hitters who are struggling now were dependable then.

That’s one reason that 29-27 this year was 37-19 last year.

But the thing that was easy to forget was this: the Mets were virtually bulletproof at home in 2022. They were 54-27 at Citi Field, easily their best record in the history of that ballpark. Only the 1988 Mets (56 wins), 2000 Mets (55) and 1986 Mets (55) ever won more home games at old Shea Stadium, and as dominant as that 108-win ’86 team was, the ’22 Mets, at .667, were the ’86 Mets at Citi.

(And they assembled that record despite going only 10-10 in their last 20 home games last year, too, assuming you include the wild-card series against the Padres.)

The Mets are still uncertain about the status of their rotation, even if Cookie Carrasco spun a stout six-inning shift Wednesday night, following Kodai Senga’s seven-inning gem from the night before, to help the Mets to a 4-1 win over the Phillies. The bullpen is still an issue, even if Adam Ottavino and David Robertson teamed up to close out the Phils for a second straight night. And Mark Canha took a time machine back to last summer by driving in all four of the Mets’ runs, but the offense still sputters too often.

Mark Canha watches his fourth-inning home run as the Mets won again at Citi Field.
Robert Sabo for NY Post

They have now won seven games in a row at Citi, however, and if you’re looking for one good reason to believe that the Mets may have finally fired up their batteries, that’s a good place to start. The Mets started their season losing nine of their first 16 games at Citi Field, and more than a few of those games featured a well-earned soundtrack of boos.

But starting with a wild 8-7, 10-inning win against the Rays on the last homestand, the Mets have slowly begun to build a genuinely good feeling in their own backyard. The 2-4 stretch in Chicago and Denver that came in between was proof enough that there are still plenty of things they need to tighten up, since neither the Cubs nor the Rockies are especially good baseball teams.

Brett Baty and Pete Alonso
Pete Alonso and Brett Baty celebrate after scoring on a Mark Canha single.
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

But back home, the streak swelled to seven with the victory Wednesday.

Back home, in front of 39,641 satisfied customers, the Mets resemble what they are supposed to be, and on Thursday they will see if Scherzer can follow his strong start last Friday in Colorado with another one against the scuffling Phils.

“I know one thing: the path always to a good season, you have to play well on the road,” Mets manager Buck Showalter warned. “But you want to feel like you have a little advantage at home. We’ll see how that plays out over a long season.”

The Mets line up for high fives after their win
The Mets have now won seven straight at Citi Field.
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

He’s right, of course, because good teams tend to be good wherever they play. The 2022 Mets were a pretty imposing team away from Citi too, going 47-34. Still, the 2023 Mets have been flailing for two months for something positive to latch onto, something positive to help slingshot them in the right direction.

It’s a small step. But winning home games is a step nonetheless.

“It’s completely different,” Carrasco said of the Mets’ Citi Field mojo, after he allowed only six hits among his 82 pitches, kicking his fastball up to the 94-95 mph range a couple of times. “We just go out and play hard, man.”

Playing hard helps, sure. Playing well is better. Across seven straight games in Flushing, the Mets have approximated the team they aspire to be. It’s still early. It’s now June. As the wisest Met said: we’ll see how that plays out over a long season.

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