ATLANTA - It's the Collins Doctrine. Look at the bright side. Do your job. Don't worry about numbers. Stop dwelling on disappointment; there's nothing you can do about it now.
From Saturday night's 4-2 victory over the Braves, the Mets can draw spiritual strength. Lefthander Jonathon Niese (9-11, 3.50 ERA) pitched seven shutout innings before being chased by three consecutive one-out Atlanta singles in the eighth. It was 161/3 innings into this three-game series before Atlanta scored a run.
Twenty-year-old second baseman Dilson Herrera, all 5-10 and 150 pounds of him, walloped a two-run homer. Mountain man Lucas Duda drove in his 86th run. Curtis Granderson, with his eighth-inning homer, picked up his 13th RBI this month. Eric Campbell, with a rare start in rightfield, made two slick, on-the-run catches. Wilmer Flores extended his hitting streak to seven games.
Of course, the Mets could mope over the fact that Herrera pulled up with a limp after beating out an infield single in the sixth. Or that Granderson was thrown out at the plate on a single by Campbell in the second.
Or that things got plenty dicey in Atlanta's eighth, when Josh Edgin -- called in to bail out Niese with the bases loaded -- surrendered a two-run single to Freddie Freeman.
But that's another piece of manager Terry Collins' credo: Don't expect it to be easy. Carlos Torres immediately replaced Edgin and induced two Atlanta groundouts to stanch the bleeding and Jenrry Mejia mopped up in the ninth.
And, as this middling 75-80 season winds down, the Mets appear to have bought into Collins' ideology.
Maybe the Mets still can finish second in the National League East. But that, Collins said, "is not discussed. The only things you talk about are good at-bats and quality innings. And I think all that stuff plays out."
Maybe Daniel Murphy can hit .300; he's at .298. "That's not something I'm seeking out," Murphy said. "I want to get base hits to help us win."
Maybe Duda, with 28 home runs, can get to 30. "I mean, I don't really think about it, you know," Duda said. "I try to win. That's the main goal. If it happens, great. If it doesn't, you know . . ."
There really are bits of encouragement for the Mets to draw from the season's second half. They are 38-32 since July 4. Jacob deGrom has emerged as an elite starter and Zack Wheeler seems to have hit his stride.
Duda is realizing his power potential. Travis d'Arnaud found his offense during a demotion to Las Vegas. Mid- and late-season call-ups Flores and Herrera, with recent bursts of offense, are trying to argue their way into future jobs.
Plus, the Mets have carried on without their best pitcher, Matt Harvey, and lately have had to make do without their best everyday player, David Wright.
"We've just got to play the game," Collins keeps saying. "Go out, do the right thing. We'll finish up strong and have some fun on the way.
"We've got some young guys. If [players] pack it in, you won't see 'em again. That's why it's nice, this time of year, to bring these young guys up. They add a lot of energy to the team."
Things will get better, the Collins logic goes. Skip the regrets.