Irrelevant in April? You may be wrong

NEW YORK -- Just when you thought the New York Mets' season was already over, it's not.

It certainly appeared that way on Wednesday night. That's when they stumbled and bumbled on the base paths en route to an ugly loss to the lowly Houston Astros. Many cringed not just at how poorly the Mets played but because it was their seventh straight home loss and made them 1-8 at Citi Field, the worst mark in first nine games in franchise history.

Worse, it was the Mets' ninth loss in their previous 10 games. At 5-13, they had the worst record in baseball and poorest Mets' start since 3-15 in 1964. You almost couldn't blame those fans who wore paper bags to the game.

It made many disgusted and wonder if it was the start of the season to nowhere. Instead of a late-season collapse, as we have seen in Flushing way too often, it would be a freefall from the beginning and make it nearly impossible to watch this team the rest of the season.

The Mets, who weren't expected to do much anyway this season, looked dead, like they simply wouldn't matter anymore after April.

Instead, they are alive and kicking.

The Mets completed a three-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks on Easter Sunday with an 8-4 victory. By doing so, the Mets have now won a season-high four in a row and are back to respectability at 9-13.

"It's great," said Mets starter and winner Jonathon Niese, who allowed two earned runs on six hits in seven innings of work. "We're playing good baseball right now -- everybody."

It's a reason to feel good, but not celebrate. No one is saying the Mets are back in the race on the National League East. The sun set on that when the Philadelphia Phillies inked starter Cliff Lee via free agency.

It's also worth noting that the Mets beat up on the D-backs (8-12), no powerhouse. Still, before this weekend, there was no guarantee the Mets could beat anyone, even the also-rans.

Once the Mets lost seven games in a row after a 4-4 start, it evoked the thought of a bummer summer, with fans holding thrill-less tickets for games that simply wouldn't matter by the time the weather warmed up.

It's not so.

The starting pitching is back on track. With Niese's seven innings, Mets starters have pitched six or more innings in their last six games. "The hitting has been better," said third baseman David Wright, who hit two home runs. "But it all starts with our starting pitching."

It's for that reason that Mets fans should have some hope as they head out on the road. They head to Washington against the Nationals, starting Tuesday. A few wins there and the Mets are closer to .500 and back where many hoped they'd be.

"We still have a long way to go," said Mets manager Terry Collins, who wasn't ready for a parade for their modest win streak. "Washington is playing good now and the Phillies are the Phillies.

"The confidence in the room is up. I'm excited to get out there Tuesday and see how we play."

And all of a sudden, there are plenty of players you want to watch. Sure, many of them might not be here later this season if the Mets can move their contracts for minor leaguers.

Jason Bay is back and hitting. He's has hit in all three games since coming off the DL. He's batting .333 with a homer and three RBIs. Carlos Beltran is playing surprisingly well. He made a nice sliding catch in right field. Plus, he had two more hits and is hitting .296.

Wright, who had an 0-for-20 slump, is officially back to being a threat. Ike Davis is off to a great start. In the six-game homestand, he batted .381 with three homers, two double and six RBIs.

In the end, it won't be enough to shock the world and win the division.

Knowing that, plus all the issues with ownership and money, it looked as if the Mets were going to throw in the towel, not put up a fight.

They decided to fight, keep playing.

That's why fans should be happy with the Mets and their current win streak. It was good to see them get some good pitching, a few clutch hits and hit some long balls.

Hey, those tickets for this summer might be good after all.