Mets have won 12 of their last 13 games

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With a 5-0 shutout of the Marlins on Tuesday night, the Mets won their fifth consecutive game. It is, in fact, their 12th victory in their last 13 games. Granted, it wasn’t the most difficult part of the schedule as those 13 games include a game against the Padres, six against the last-place Pirates, three against the third-place White Sox, and three against the last-place Marlins. But the Mets took full advantage, gaining ground on every other team in the NL East. Once as far back as 14.5 games on July 14, the Mets are now 8.5 games behind the Braves and could move into second place as soon as this week depending on how the Phillies and Nationals fare.

In Tuesday night’s game, Zack Wheeler — assumed to be on his way to a new team on July 31 — tossed a gem, blanking the Marlins over eight innings on eight hits and a walk with five strikeouts. Wilson Ramos hit a three-run homer and Pete Alonso also went yard for his 36th dinger of the year.

Entering Tuesday’s action, the biggest contributors on offense since July 25 (when the aforementioned streak began) have been Michael Conforto (5 HR, 11 RBI), Jeff McNeil (5 HR, 9 RBI), J.D. Davis (3 HR, 9 RBI). Meanwhile, Noah Syndergaard has an 0.63 ERA in his last two starts. Jacob deGrom has a 1.29 ERA over his last three. Seth Lugo has been perfect since July 18.

A month ago, manager Mickey Callaway said, “We can sneak into the Wild Card. We can sneak back into the division.” We all kind of laughed at him. I even wrote, “If they were to even sneak in and claim a Wild Card spot, that would be one of the most surprising things to ever happen in baseball.” Well, who’s laughing now? The Mets are two games out of the second Wild Card slot in the National League.

That being said, the Mets’ schedule gets tougher going forward. They still have nine games against the Braves remaining as well as six against the Nationals. Outside the division, the Mets will face the Indians, Cubs, and Dodgers three times apiece. The Mets did what they were supposed to do, taking advantage of a weak part of the schedule. Now they need to hold their own against better teams.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.