Mets had first successful road trip and need to carry winning at home

Rich Mancuso

Over the .500 mark after a successful three-city road trip, their first one of the young season, now, it is time for the New York Mets to continue that success at home with the start of a 10-game home stand at Citi Field Friday night.

Yes, it is time for the Mets to win games at home, something they have not been accustomed to doing much since the opening of their new ballpark in Flushing. And, this has been a stigma that the players, who have come and gone, can’t seem to figure out.

Neither can a Mets fan seem to have an answer. If anything, they are frustrated. Because if you add the road wins to a better percentage of success at home, well the Mets can be contenders no matter how many flaws the team seems to have.

The manager, Terry Collins said, after his team departed Arizona Wednesday with a three-game sweep and 6-3 road trip, “We’ve got to pitch. It starts there.” At home, it has been a combination of good starting pitching, a late bullpen collapse, and failure to hit with runners in scoring position.

And, with Atlanta, St. Louis, and the Marlins coming to Citi Field, it is important, as early as it is, for the Mets to make a statement. More so, it is crucial to the fan base that the team shows, they can win in their home ballpark.

Citi Field, with the exception of Opening Day, last year’s All-Star game, when the Yankees come to visit, and when Matt Harvey is on the mound, is rarely full. And at times, those in the press box will say “Count how many fans are here on your hand.”

That will eventually change, if and when the Mets are in the hunt for October baseball. But, getting a ticket to Citi Field could become more difficult if the team gets accustomed to winning more games at home. Though, the baseball experts have said, some teams just play better on the road.

In that respect, the Mets have become a much better team on the road, and there is no valid explanation as to why.

Last season, away from Citi field, the Mets went 41-40. And that record would have been significantly better had they improved their 6-15 mark tied after eight-innings. Obviously, that is where the bullpen failures come into play and those same issues accounted for a season opening 2-4 home stand.

Those first six games at Citi Field, New York led and scored first. They fanned 61-times at the plate, allowed 58 hits and 30 runs. Again, obvious these marks have to improve at home, and it has more to do as to where and when the baseball bounces.

Collins has never had an answer, only to say again, “We have to play better at home.” 

“We have to play better at home and prove to our fans we can win here,” said the captain David Wright when the Mets departed for Atlanta almost two weeks ago. He added, “We have to find a way. We are capable of winning here as much as we win on the road.”

Last season, players in the clubhouse were frustrated. It was the same questions, and the similar response.  Some would say, it is the game of baseball and sometimes that’s how it works. And for the Mets, it hasn’t worked at home, but it is frustrating.

Displeasures coming from the slim crowds at Citi Field are heard. The Players try to block that and go along with their business. However, it is something that can’t be avoided. They want to hear more cheers, more importantly, see more fans in the stands.

“I open my eyes and I am thinking, here I am back in triple-A,” said one current player last September when the Mets played before a neat empty ballpark. “We have to do something about this,” he said.”

Winning ballgames in your ballpark will help. Games in April, are as important as late in the season and those home losses at times will come back to haunt you. The Mets know that, so do their fans.

But winning now at home is crucial for these 2014 New York Mets. They are still in a rebuilding stage, and not expected to contend for another year or two. And getting that fan base for support is important for their mindset, and of course financially, ownership can’t afford to lose money another year at Citi field.

Many will say, it is the team ownership is putting on the field. Yes, that is true also to a certain extent because that same team that wins games on the road does not have a winning record at home.

So now is the time to win at home. The Mets need to do that, and of course for their loyal fan base, and it needs to start tomorrow night with the Braves, the Cardinals and Marlins visiting Citi Field for seven more games.

If not, once again Citi field will be desolate on those late summer nights in August and on chilly nights in late September.