With break approaching the Mets are rolling

Rich Mancuso

After a series finale with the Miami Marlins Sunday afternoon at Citi Field, and with a chance for a three-game series sweep, the New York Mets await a four-day hiatus for the all-star break.  And as much as the Mets need some rest the feeling is keep playing.

The prevailing thought is, keep playing. And why not, because the Mets are on a roll and feel confident that they will be a part of an interesting second half of baseball when play resumes next Friday night in San Diego.

The Mets are rolling. Pitching and situational hitting again late Saturday afternoon were a theme as they assured their third straight series win on the 10-game homestand with a 5-4 win. It was their 20th come-from-behind victory of the season and they did it with the home run ball.

The home run ball once again, which has become a major part of their revival at home came off the bat of pinch hitter Chris Young, a two-run shot to deep left in the seventh inning that tied the score.  It was the eighth home run for Young, the second of his career off the bench and came with one-out off a slider from Marlins’ reliever Bryan Morris.

Young, who has been regulated more to the bench, because of a six outfielders on the roster and starting only against left-handers, has not been a fan favorite with that one-year $7 million dollar contract and getting only one hit in his last 19- at bats.

“By the time it’s all said and done, I know that the belief in myself and what I feel like I bring to the table will show,” commented Young. “I’ll be happy at the end of the season knowing that I put everything I had into this season and things turned around and got positive. And, next thing you know, you’re the guy that people want to go to in the big situation, hopefully. That’s always the goal.”

And it is a goal that the Mets can get more big hits from Young, off the bench or when he starts. It will only add to their momentum and make believers of fans who gave up on this team less than two weeks ago.

It was that type of home run, and the proper attitude that has the Mets believing more that they will have an impact in the second half.   Will a potential sweep Sunday over the Marlins stop the momentum going into the all-star break?  Ask the manager, Terry Collins and he knows his team needs a break, but they would rather continue.

“To keep going,” Collins said, when asked about the break. “Be very satisfying coming around tomorrow and getting another win. We’ve had some big wins. That might be the biggest win of the year for us.”

And, Collins commented, “For a lot of reasons. No. 1, we talked coming into the homestand about having a good homestand. And then Chris Young has really had a rough first half. To come through in a big way, it’s great for him. You know he’s a tremendous teammate. The guys only want him to have success. There were a lot of pieces to that win today. That’s why it’s big.”

The Mets, 44-50, overcame two-run deficits twice and won for the seventh time in nine games on the homestand. They are six games under .500 for the first time since June 25. That is quite an accomplishment considering the team was 11-games behind first place Atlanta, a week ago when they lost the second game of a three-game series to Texas.

Small ball and situational hitting have helped their cause.  Ruben Tejada was part of a squeeze play bunt in the fifth inning and the throw from Marlins’ catcher Jarrod Salatamacchia took Christian Yellich off the first base bag. That scored Kirk Nieuwenhuis who doubled in the inning. Moved over on a ground-out, and that tied the score at 2-2.

Forget about the four Marlins’ runs scored on errors by Mets corner outfielders, including one misplayed by Curtis Granderson in the sixth inning that sailed over his head for a double. So different now, because the Mets feel they can get the hit they need and come right back.

”You have to come back with the same mentality and energy,” Tejada commented when asked if the momentum can be sustained after the break. It was the second suicide squeeze of the season for the Mets, and Tejada said he may have had one earlier in his career.

Situational hitting again came in the eighth inning.  Travis D’arnaurd, got a two-out extra base hit to left that went for a double. Then on a 3-2 offering from Mike Dunn, Eric Campbell off the bench, hitting for Niewwenhuis, lined a single to center that scored d’Arnaurd as the Mets took the lead for the first time, 5-4.

“I had a pretty good idea of what his (Dunn) stuff does, so that helped,” said Campbell who got the bulk of playing time when David Wright sat for a week with a bad shoulder. He also said, the Mets are confident that the momentum and winning will continue after the break.

And through all of the pains the Mets had, before this resurgence at home the past week, pitching has always been consistent. It was again Saturday.  Dice Matsuzaka pitched six-innings and matched a career high with 10-strikeouts and threw 120 pitches.

The bullpen did the rest, Vic Black (2-2) got the win, before that Carlos Torres pitched a scoreless inning and Jenrry Mejia with a perfect ninth got his 10th save.

Said Collins about the enthusiasm and momentum, something seen from an almost full house at Citi field, “What we’re hoping for when we come out of the break, that we’re playing well and people want to buy tickets to come see us, because we have not quit all year long. It’s a fun team to be around. It’s a fun team to watch play.”

Too bad it will be break time after Sunday because the Mets right now don’t want to lose that winning atmosphere.

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