There are new faces liberally sprinkled among the more familiar ones on the Mets these days as salary dumps and rebuilding moves reign. And amid the comings and goings — including the goings of some important clubhouse guys — manager Terry Collins stresses one thing above all.
These guys are ballplayers, paid to do their job. So do it.
“We’ve got to get the attention back on the game and play the game right,” Collins said. “I’m a true believer in I don’t care whose name is on the uniforms, this is the big leagues and you’ve got to go play.”
So Saturday, the Mets did.
They fielded, turning five double plays, four in consecutive innings. They pitched with Rafael Montero producing a second straight sound effort after a bunch of duds. And they hit, using a seven-run fifth inning that included a pair of two-run homers by Wilmer Flores and just recalled Kevin Plawecki.
Dominic Smith added a solo shot in the eighth. Mold it all together and the Mets ended a five-game losing streak with an 8-1 drubbing of the Marlins at Citi Field.
As the dismantling continued with the trade of Curtis Granderson to the Dodgers and the Cubs’ waiver claim of Rene Rivera, the Mets found themselves without five players, also including the traded Lucas Duda, Neil Walker and Jay Bruce, who had accounted for 83 of their 180 homers entering Saturday. So they looked to what was on hand to win.
Montero (2-8) exited down, 1-0, after six innings, but the Mets responded in a big way in the home sixth. Matt Reynolds walked pinch hitting for Montero then Brandon Nimmo laced a full-count single to right. Asdrubal Cabrera’s sac fly to right tied the score and finished starter Vance Worley (2-3) in favor of Drew Steckenrider. The Mets were just getting started.
Yoenis Cespedes singled and a wild pitch set up Michael Conforto for a hard shot at shortstop Miguel Rojas, who made the first of his two errors and the first of three by Miami, in the inning. Two runners scored. Flores then crushed his 15th homer for a 5-1 lead.
Smith, who led off the eighth with his second career homer, reached on another Rojas error. One out later, Plawecki, recalled from Triple-A, belted his first homer. About the only guy with a worse night that Rojas was Tyler Moore. who hit into three of the Miami double plays.
“I felt good with my swing back to last year when I got called up,” Plawecki said. “I just haven’t gotten the consistency to take it day-in and day-out.” It’s just trying to get the swing as consistent as possible each and every night. Just getting the consistent reps has really allowed me to feel the swing and get the confidence level where it needs to be.”
Montero sought to build off a strong no-decision outing against the Yankees that came after five previous starts where he was 0-3 with a sickly 6.49 ERA.
Montero’s biggest weapon proved to be the double play grounder. The Mets entered having turned 89 double plays — only the Yankees with 78 had fewer in all baseball. But Montero survived early, inducing a double play in the second inning. And the third. And the fourth. And the fifth.
The double play that ended the third, by Giancarlo Stanton, produced a moment that sort of negated the whole be prepared, be focused stuff from Collins. With the inning over, the Mets team momentarily stayed on the field. Maybe they just were stunned by double plays in back-to-back innings. If so, they probably needed defibrillators after the fifth.
In the sixth, Worley dumped a single just over Cabrera at second. Dee Gordon delivered another bloop, but Worley was forced out at second by center fielder Nimmo. Gordon stole second and eventually scored on Marcell Ozuna’s RBI single.
Montero pumped his fist when he kept the damage at one run and struck out J.T. Realmuto, who proved to be his last batter. Montero’s line showed six innings, six hits three walks, five strikeouts and one earned run.