As one presidential candidate would say, “It was Yuuuuge.”
With slugger Yoenis Cespedes risking limbs and fans’ lives diving for an uncatchable foul ball and Terry Collins managing his bullpen like it was the playoffs Wednesday afternoon, the Mets squeaked out a 2-1 win over the Marlins at Citi Field.
“It just shows you that they want to win,” the Mets manager said. “I think that was a message that has to be sent: We’re not sitting back just on our laurels. I just thought, we had to send a message, to leave this homestand, our opening home stand showing we can win some games.”
Kevin Plawecki drove in two runs and Logan Verrett threw six scoreless innings as the Mets (3-5) snapped a four-game losing streak and avoided being swept by the Marlins (3-4).
While the calendar says otherwise, Collins managed the last three innings like it was time to clinch a playoff spot.
Logan Verrett fills in for Jacob deGrom on Wednesday.
Collins used Jim Henderson, who threw 34 pitches in Tuesday night’s loss, to start the seventh and got into immediate trouble. He had to go to Hansel Robles, who was supposed to be off Wednesday, with the bases loaded. Robles got two outs before lefty Jerry Blevins came in to get Dee Gordon and end the seventh inning threat. Blevins was charged with a run in the eighth before Collins went to closer Jeurys Familia, on his third straight day of work and fighting a cold, for the final five outs.
Collins admitted that was a move he would not have made if the Mets’ had not just lost four straight.
“Never,” Collins said, “he would’ve pitched the ninth inning and the ninth inning only.”
It was clear how important it was to Collins, who was defiant and feisty in his postgame press conference defending his decisions. He felt there was a misconception about this team out there that needed to be corrected.
Mets trainers gather around Yoenis Cespedes.
“I am not worried about the confidence, I was worried about the perception that there is no energy here, which is completely not true, that we’re not prepared, that we’re over-confident, that we’re not taking things seriously,” Collins said. “I heard that last night and it made me sick to my stomach that people actually think that this team, (which) accomplished what it did last year, would have any semblance of that type of makeup.
“So I said we got to win this game today. We got to show people we mean business.”
Cespedes said he felt the same way when he went hurdling over the outfield fence into the stands and fans for a foul ball. “I tried to jump to get the ball,” the slugger said, “just to give max effort for the team to see if we could get a win.”
Cespedes hit the seats just above his knees and was down momentarily. He said both legs bothered him after that, but “they shouldn’t take me out of any games.”
Wilmer Flores (l.) greets Asdrubal Cabrera at home plate after they both scored on Kevin Plawecki’s single in the seventh inning.
The slugger, who struck out in his first three at-bats Wednesday, walked out and remained in the game and was hit by a pitch in the elbow in his final at-bat.
David Wright admitted it was a game the Mets wanted, with the offense struggling and Verrett stepping in for injured new father Jacob deGrom.
But it wasn’t “must-win,” in his eyes.
“The offense isn’t clicking,” Wright said. “We’re definitely not firing on all cylinders, so to speak. Every win is important. A win is win and we’ll take it, especially with the way we are playing.”
Kevin Plawecki hits a 2RBI single in the seventh inning.
Verrett was excellent in his spot start for deGrom, who besides being skipped because of a “tight,” lat muscle on his right side, was in Florida for the Monday night birth of his son. Verrett scattered three hits, struck out six and walked one.
“We knew it was a big game for us, we wanted to get back on that winning train,” Verrett said, “and we went out there and took care of business. All in all it was a good day.”
And as far as the Mets are concerned, for an April win it was “Yuuuuge.”