Tatis' tater caps off sweep of Giants
Outfielder drives in four runs as Mets win sixth straight game
NEW YORK -- Moments after delivering the news that Moises Alou's season had likely ended, Mets general manager Omar Minaya looked up and forced a smile.
"It's a good day for Fernando Tatis to have a good day," Minaya said.
His words offered some sense of solace, and perhaps something more, considering that the Mets have been faring just fine without Alou. That much continued Thursday, and Tatis was the primary reason why. His two doubles kept the Mets in the game, and his two-run homer won it. Following the game, the Mets were not lamenting the loss of Alou so much as they were basking in the afterglow of six straight victories -- their first six-game winning streak in nearly two years.
And there's no reason to believe that this most recent win, a 7-3 final over the Giants, might mark the end. The Mets are playing more consistently than they have at any point since last May. They are within striking distance of both the National League and NL Wild Card lead, and they have done nearly all of it without Alou.
"You would think that the offense was going to scuffle even more, be even more inconsistent than it's been this year," third baseman David Wright said.
Logic would agree, though logic doesn't often side with 33-year-old utility men who spend years out of the Majors, show up to Spring Training late and then try to make a big league roster.
But logic, clearly, has never met Tatis.
Neither had Sergio Romo; the two had never faced each other before Tatis strode to the plate with one out in the seventh inning and Wright on second base. Romo threw him six pitches, the last of which Tatis knocked into Shea Stadium's left-field bleachers, snapping a 3-3 tie and putting the Mets six outs away from a series sweep.
For the bullpen, the six outs weren't a problem, and for Tatis, neither was the homer.
"I feel great," Tatis said. "I feel pretty good at the plate, and it's amazing the kind of baseball we're playing right now."
It's the kind they've seemed capable of playing for so long, but haven't achieved since the waning moments of 2006. It's complete baseball. Almost.
Only John Maine seemed upset following Wednesday's win, berating himself for "an all-around bad performance." He struck out eight Giants over 4 2/3 innings, but also walked five of them. He allowed three earned runs and needed 109 pitches to do it.
His non-pitching forearm, which ailed him during his previous start in Philadelphia, responded fine. But Maine did not.
"I had nothing all game," he said. "It was a wasted start. The only thing positive that came out of it was that we won."
That's positive enough, considering the Mets hadn't been able to achieve such fortune at other points this season. Normally, the Mets would find enough inconsistency in one part of their game -- be it pitching, hitting or defense -- to throw the other parts out of whack. But they did enough on this afternoon to keep everything in sync.
Maine faltered, but the bullpen picked him up. And the offense, too.
After Tatis homered, Nick Evans singled and scored on an error, and Jose Reyes singled home the seventh run.
Back in the third inning, Carlos Beltran drove in one run with a single of his own, before Tatis knocked in two with the second of his two doubles. Somewhere, not too far away, Alou was pondering surgery on his torn left hamstring. So indeed, Tatis could not have picked a better day to have a good day.
Wright kept comparing it to his team's playoff run in 2006 -- "I hate going back to '06," he said, though it's sometimes hard to believe him -- and noting the important role the Mets' bench players played in that success.
This year, it's a different cast -- only Endy Chavez remains among that group of backups -- but similar results. And Tatis, who made the team only after proving too advanced for Triple-A pitching back in April, is perhaps the key to it all.
"Any time those guys that are considered bench players or role players come in and play an even bigger role -- especially in a win -- it adds tremendous life to a team," manager Jerry Manuel said. "They're the guys that are constantly working to get that opportunity. Once the opportunity comes and they take advantage of it, it's inspiration to the whole team, no doubt."
There is a sign that hangs in the Mets' clubhouse listing workout routines for every Mets pitcher in need of such things. And at the bottom is a quotation.
"Faith," it reads, "is not belief without truth, but trust without reservation."
These Mets trust in Manuel -- several of them noted so Wednesday -- and they have no choice but to believe. So they'll proceed in an imperfect situation, with Alou almost certainly gone for the year and Ryan Church in relatively poor shape himself. But then again, perhaps this situation isn't as imperfect as it once may have seemed.
Tatis is hitting and the Mets are winning. For now, that's plenty good enough.
"When you lose those two guys, you think of replacing them with like pieces," Manuel said. "But if you look around, you might have that piece staring you in the face."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.