Mets enter second half on heels of familiar foes

Mets enter second half on heels of familiar foes

NEW YORK -- The Mets will head into the All-Star break the same way they left Nationals Park two weeks ago -- scuffling while they watch Washington soar above them in the National League East standings.

New York managed to claw its way to within three games of the division lead following Thursday's series-opening win, but after three straight losses -- capped by the Nationals' 3-2 victory at Citi Field on Sunday -- the Mets find themselves in a familiar place as the second half approaches.

"It's a very disappointing end to the homestand," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "But we have to get ready for next weekend, when we get into [Philadelphia], and that's when we really have to get it going on all cylinders and not look back."

On June 29, the Mets suffered the same fate they did on Sunday. Losing eight of their last 12, New York had to face the Cubs and Marlins, as well as the Nationals, during an 11-game homestand.

Through the first eight games, they scored 55 runs en route to sweeping the Cubs, taking two of three from the Marlins and winning the series opener against the Nationals. Then, three straight losses put them back at square one.

"That's a good team that is playing very well over there with the Nationals," Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson said. "They are doing an excellent job of hitting and pitching. You obviously want to go ahead and pick up some more victories against them, but you have to give credit where credit is due."

Now at 47-41, the Mets' record is nearly identical to what it was at the All-Star break last year (47-42), when they went on to win the division and the NL pennant.

The Mets currently sit six games behind the Nationals in the NL East and are tied with the Marlins for the final Wild Card spot, but the break allows them to get a battered roster healthy, including the likes of Yoenis Cespedes and Noah Syndergaard, before they open up the second half with a nine-game road trip that includes stops in Philadelphia, Chicago and Miami.

"We're still in the race, but we're banged up," Collins said. "That's why we are taking these four days and hopefully recuperating. We've been in this situation one year ago, where things looked bleak, and we ended up playing in the World Series. So we're upbeat, and we are going to take the rest and get ready for the second half."

Troy Provost-Heron is a reporter for based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.