Winning can be contagious and it’s happening for the Mets

Rich Mancuso

Last week there was that helpless feeling for the New York Mets, and a 1-6 road trip did not help their cause. The first place Atlanta Braves added to that helpless feeling after taking all three games over the Mets at Turner Field.  But baseball is a long season and all of a sudden winning has become contagious.

Even more contagious now at home for the Mets who took their third consecutive game from the Braves with a 4-1 win Wednesday night at Citi Field. It was their season high fourth straight win and they have won 11 of their last 16 games at home.

“It’s very different, guys are having a lot of fun,” said Dillon Gee who pitched seven good innings in his first start since coming off the disabled list.

A team out of contention last week looks totally different. The Mets are scoring early and often, the timely hits, home run ball, good pitching and the save. Despite being 42-49, seven games behind the Braves in the NL east, there is optimism. It also shows in the post game locker room.

There are the comments and a feeling that this revival will continue. Of course, there is still a lot of baseball to be played. And, it has to be remembered, last year before the all-star break the Mets had a streak of wins, and after the break all the momentum reflected in one loss after another.

Manager Terry Collins said before the game, this was the team he hoped for the first three months of the season. Then, Curtis Granderson was hitting an anemic .198, David Wright struggled often and Wednesday ignited a rally with a double as he hustled into second, and Lucas Duda had more strikeouts than getting on base, but that has changed.

Ruben Tejada saw his job at shortstop coming to an end. The pitching was a strong point and consistent, keeping the Mets in ballgames. And the bullpen was in shambles.

There was a change in the hitting coach and Granderson is the new leadoff hitter. No need to recap what has occurred, the past six games against the Texas Rangers and Braves. Winning though has become contagious.

“Winning is contagious as losing,” said manager Terry Collins. “It’s a different atmosphere in the clubhouse, different on the field. Our guys have a different frame of mind.” He was referring to the situational hitting, and how Duda has been a different hitter and moving runners over via the fly ball instead of the strike out.

Contagious against the Braves, as Collins said his team knows “How big this series is.” Huge was the word before the Braves came in, and that may have been alluding to the fact that the Mets needed to take at least two of the four against Atlanta to keep their dwindling hopes alive.    

And it has been good to see Travis d’Arnaud, now a different hitter since his return from Triple-A Las Vegas.   He has reached safely in all 13-games since returning on June 24 and hit a two-run home run in the seventh inning that added runs and a win for Dillon Gee, now 4-1. Jenrry Mejia got his ninth save and everyone went home happy after another Mets win at Citi Field.

“What we’re seeing right now is everything we heard,” said Terry Collins about d’Arnaud. “He’s got tremendous hand strength. The bat speed is still there. The power is still there. Whatever adjustments he made have been huge.”

The adjustments made in Las Vegas have shown, 10-hits for d’Arnaud compared to the six before he left. d’Arnaud is now 15-for-50 with three home runs in 13 games, his batting average up from .180 to .213.

“I don’t think it was urgency,” Vic Black said about the series. He set up Mejia in the eighth inning and also said the same thing. The Mets are moving runners over and hitting in situations.

“We are hitting with men on base, doing the little things,” said Tejada who got the walk-off winning hit Monday night in the first game of the series with the Braves.   “We’re playing the right way. We are trying to do more in situations late in the game. Hope we keep going the same way and do the same thing, and no matter what score runs.”

As for Gee, Collins said, “"He was sailing along about as good, as you can possibly do. He made pitch after pitch. That's the Dillon Gee we have known to love."

The Mets are sailing along and interesting again. And they hit home runs at Citi Field as the weather got warmer in Flushing. Now, if they sweep the Braves Thursday night and take care of the Marlins after that, a team that is struggling, all of that momentum hopefully will continue after the break.

If not, contagious winning becomes contagious losing again. With the Mets, anything is possible.

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