I don't typically subscribe to the idea of the "must-win game" - I've always seen it as a made-up creation by sportswriters eager to sell a newspaper. How can one game, particularly early in the season, be must win? Would it be nice in some cases to win a statement game in May? Yes. Would it make the road easier to beat a division rival and stay within 4 GB in June? Sure. But the bottom line is those "must-win" games, you can survive losing... so by definition, they aren't what people claim them to be.
However, the Mets are staring down a couple series right now which will make-or-break their season, if it is not already broken. The Mets - a depressing 9.0 games off the pace in the NL East - have one last desparate chance to make a run at the division. If so, here is how it will go:
Next up, three games at home against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies are 5.5 games ahead of the Mets today -- but if the Mets sweep the series, at home, that lead will shrink to 2.5 games. If the Mets sweep, they'll be 60-57.
The next 13 games are as follows: at Houston, at Pittsburgh, vs Florida, vs Houston. The best of these teams, the Marlins, are at .500, while Houston and Pittsburgh are arguably the two worst teams in the National League.
If the Mets can go into Houston and win three of four, and win the series in Pittsburgh -- not a huge task, considering their futility -- they will not only make up ground in the East, but they will finally have won a series against a National League team on the road, something which they have not done this year.
If the Mets go 9-4 in these games, they will be 69-61 when they travel to Turner Field in Atlanta on August 30th.
It's a lot to ask the Mets to sweep a series, but not so much at home, where they've been great. It's a lot to ask the Mets to win on the road, but not so much against teams with 65 (Houston) and 74 (Pittsburgh) losses.
The Braves currently sit at 66-48, and have just lost Chipper Jones for the season. If they go .500 over their next 16 games, which includes 4 against the Dodgers and 3 in Colorado without an off day, they will be 74-56 on August 30th.
If the Mets are only 5 games behind the Braves, going into Atlanta for a four game series, destiny in their own hands -- will you Believe?