By Ed Coleman
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Granted, it’s not 18 out of 20. But this 8-4 stretch that the Mets just persevered their way through three time zones to achieve is significant, and it had its genesis after a bad loss at Citi Field on June 15.
And it was the captain, David Wright, who did what a leader is supposed to do — get the ship back on course as quickly as possible.
Wright does not like team meetings. He’d prefer to avoid them. Sometimes they’re necessary — and on June 15, one was.
The Mets had just dropped to 2-10 since sweeping the Yankees in interleague play, losing in lackluster fashion for the second straight day to the just-as-anemic Chicago Cubs. They were 1-6 on the homestand, hearing the boos, feeling the heat. Wright sensed despair, and knew he had to act.
So, what did he say to his teammates?
Wright made sure to emphasize the point that players had to take it pitch by pitch, step by step, inning by inning, grind it out — you couldn’t hit five-run homers and make up 15 games (the Mets were 24-39 after the June 15 loss) all in one fell swoop.
The next day, the Mets were headed to yet another stomach-turning loss, held to just three hits by Cubs pitchers through eight innings and trailing 3-0 entering the bottom of the ninth. But they stuck with it, and Marlon Byrd, who embodies the grinder attitude espoused by Wright, homered to lead off the inning and get the Mets on the board. Lucas Duda then walked, John Buck followed with a single, and after Omar Quintanilla sacrificed, Kirk Nieuwenhuis blasted a game-winning three-run homer to deliver an improbable victory.
Lo and behold, almost exactly what Wright had preached to his teammates had come to fruition the very next day.
The captain deflected credit as usual, saying he just wanted to keep negativity to a minimum and prevent guys from getting down on themselves.
And it’s had some staying power as well. The next night they suffered a crushing loss in Atlanta when Freddie Freeman homered off Dillon Gee in the ninth for a Braves walk-off win. But they bounced back behind the kids — Harvey and Wheeler — to sweep a doubleheader the following day and go on to take three of five from Atlanta, then two of three in Philly, a split with the White Sox in Chicago and a makeup win over the Rockies in Colorado, the latter accomplished with Wright enjoying a day off at Coors Field.
Manager Terry Collins was quite proud of this turnaround stretch.
They’ll take the results. And justifiably so.
C U soon
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