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MLB

The Mets Can Do No Wrong Right Now

Travis d'Arnaud is tagged out by Tomas Nido
Adam Hunger/Getty Images

It went against everything that an infielder is taught from the very beginning of his career. Starting pitcher Max Scherzer even said in the post-game that his initial reaction was “What the hell is going on?” But Luis Guillorme knew what he was doing.

In the fifth inning of the second game of the Mets’ doubleheader with the Braves on Saturday, with New York leading 3-0 but Atlanta threatening with one out and runners in the corners, Ehire Adrianza smacked a ball directly at the second baseman Guillorme on the far edge of the dirt. The hit and run was on with the man at first, which meant the double play was taken out of the realm of possibility. Baseball wisdom dictated that Guillorme toss the ball to first, let the run score from third, and settle for two outs and a runner on second with a 3-1 advantage.

Guillorme, though, noticed a small opening. Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud had hesitated just a bit making his run from third, and Guillorme’s internal measurement system came to the conclusion that the throw would beat the runner home. Surprising everybody in the ballpark, Guillorme just fired it to the plate instead of taking the easy out, and he managed to nail his man by a split second. What a beautiful, dramatic, unexpected play at the plate this was.

Guillorme, who can play second, third, and short, probably hasn’t put in enough time at any one position to merit Gold Glove consideration, but his instincts and execution here were the most compelling support yet for all the plaudits his defense receives around the Mets organization. Here’s the slo-mo from a great angle that shows Tomás Nido getting the tag on d’Arnaud just before that hand touches safety.

Watching on a screen, it looks very, very tight, and consequently a very risky choice to make. But Guillorme didn’t have any doubts. Asked afterward if he was nervous before seeing the result of the play, he responded, “Off the hand I knew I had him. I didn’t know how close it was going to be, but I felt really good about it.”

Guillorme’s confidence is indicative of the larger mood surrounding the Mets, who boast a 69-39 record after winning 11 of their last 13. This is a franchise that’s spent the last five years out of the playoffs and earned its reputation for poor front office decisions, organizational misconduct, and just plain bad luck. Their impressive start to the year, which launched them ahead of the defending champion Braves in the division, has led to a waiting game: How humiliating and heartbreaking is the Mets’ eventual screw-up going to be? This five-game series at home against Atlanta, with about a third of the season remaining, stood out as a possible turning point—the moment when the Mets might lose first place for good. But instead, with convincing wins in three out of four, New York has extended the lead to 5.5 games. And after Scherzer turned in a great outing on Saturday night, Jacob deGrom closes the series by making his first start in Queens since July 7, 2021.

Even another victory, however, likely won’t shake the nerves that come with watching this team—the feeling that any error or lapse in judgement might mark the dividing line between when the Mets were good and when the Mets blew it. But those moments continue to come and go without causing a scene. Ten days ago they blew a lead to the Yankees in the eighth, only to come back and sweep the Subway Series with a Starling Marte walk-off. On Thursday, star closer Edwin Díaz was pushed to make a six-out save, which is not in his wheelhouse, but he did so nearly flawlessly. Friday, after a cursed start from Taijuan Walker dropped them in an early 8-0 hole, the Mets didn’t give up, and though they still lost 9-6, the fact that Atlanta’s bullpen was not able to coast through the night (they used six pitchers) surely played a role in the doubleheader sweep the following day.

Even after they underwhelmed at the trade deadline, their moves for the big boy DH platoon of Darin Ruf and Daniel Vogelbach have already paid dividends both on the field and in the dugout.

I say this with complete sincerity, without any jokes or cynicism to undercut it, even if it goes against my natural disposition: The Mets are very fun, and they are a good baseball team.