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Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda homer in Mets' rout of Phillies
By the end of Wednesday's's 11-2 pummeling of the Phillies, the non-waiver trade deadline was just 24 hours away. And like every other team in the major leagues, the potential for change lingered over the Mets.
The players themselves, however, seemed unconcerned about the possibility of a different clubhouse come tomorrow. To them, a major shift already has taken place, one more significant than what could materialize before Thursday's 4 p.m. cutoff.
"I feel like we're a whole different team from the beginning of the season,'' said pitcher Zack Wheeler, the personification of this change. "From swinging the bats, to the pitching, all around we're more consistent right now.''
When the Mets reconvene Friday, it's likely that righthander Bartolo Colon still will have a locker at Citi Field, along with All-Star second baseman Daniel Murphy.
Multiple officials insist that no deals are on the horizon.
Nevertheless, what has changed with the Mets may best be reflected in what they've done amid swirling rumors. Re-energized by a young core that is beginning to show its promise, the Mets have watched potential turn into production.
The Mets had stumbled badly, creating a double-digit gulf between themselves and the .500 mark. But they roared to a 15-10 record in July, closing to within four games of the break-even point, just enough to remain on the fringes of contention.
"You could just go on and on with pieces of the puzzle that have kind of fit together to show that they're going to be part of the future, part of the solution,'' David Wright said.
It can be seen with Travis d'Arnaud, the catcher who has become an offensive force since his demotion to the minors. It's obvious with first baseman Lucas Duda, whose July power surge at times carried the offense.
Closer Jenrry Mejia and setup man Jeurys Familia have become a dangerous tandem. And in the rotation, rookie Jacob deGrom has become a Rookie of the Year candidate and Wheeler is pitching like an ace.
And in one afternoon against the Phillies, all of those puzzle pieces once again came together.
It began with Wheeler, the 24-year-old righthander who has taken a quantum leap in his own development. Wild inconsistency has been replaced by steady production. Even without command of his fastball, Wheeler endured, holding the Phillies to two runs in 62/3 innings.
When he was given the lead -- Murphy's three-run shot in the fifth put the Mets up for good -- Wheeler (6-8) sharpened his focus. In his last six starts, he's 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA.
Then there was Duda, the blossoming cleanup hitter who conquered a personal demon by lashing a run-scoring single off a tough lefthander, Mario Hollands. Later, Duda added an exclamation point with a two-run homer into the Pepsi Porch.
It was Duda's 19th homer and 60th RBI, both team highs. He has knocked in a run in a career-best six straight games.
"It's just amazing, the transformation in such a short time period,'' Wright said. "To where he's one of the most dangerous hitters in the National League.''
Ruben Tejada, Juan Lagares an Murphy had three hits apiece, and d'Arnaud doubled home a run to extend a five-run barrage in the seventh.
With the game still close, Familia tossed 11/3 scoreless innings. As a bonus, he collected his first career RBI by ripping a single to left. In the dugout, Terry Collins couldn't help but smile.
Said Collins: "We're a lot better because we're playing the way we should.''