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More clutch hitting leads Mets to 7-2 record on homestand
Much of the first half of the Mets' season has been defined by a lack of timing.
Over and over, they found themselves falling just one run short, forced to dissect every break that didn't go their way.
So it was easy to understand why manager Terry Collins declared Saturday's 5-4 victory over the Marlins as "one of the biggest wins of the year for us."
One by one, the Mets delivered in the clutch in clawing back from a pair of two-run deficits.
Perhaps the biggest blow was by Chris Young, who came off the bench and delivered a tying two-run home run in the seventh inning.
In the eighth, second baseman Daniel Murphy made a leaping grab to save a run.
The scoring ended in the bottom of the inning when pinch hitter Eric Campbell fought off a pitch on his hands and blooped a single to center. The hit drove in Travis d'Arnaud, who triggered the rally by lining a two-out double down the leftfield line.
"We kept fighting," said d'Arnaud, who had two more hits, part of a surge since returning from his demotion to Triple-A Las Vegas. "It shows where all our heads are at right now. We're having fun."
At the beginning of this 10-game homestand, much of the conversation surrounding the Mets centered on the trade deadline and which pieces could be jettisoned to contenders. General manager Sandy Alderson insisted that the coming days would determine whether he would be a seller.
The Mets have responded with perhaps their best stretch of baseball this season.
The chances of a playoff berth remain minuscule. But the Mets' recent surge -- they are 7-2 on the homestand heading into Sunday's finale, their last game before the All-Star break -- has brought them to within seven games of first place.
Though they are six games under .500, the Mets have responded to the challenge laid down by Collins, who implored his club to finish strong in the first half. A victory Sunday would complete a three-game sweep of the division rival Marlins and lift the Mets into third place.
"We have not quit all year long," Collins said.
Nor did they quit against the Marlins, who led 2-0 after David Wright's error in the third allowed a run to score and Christian Yellich homered in the fifth.
After the Mets made it 2-2 in the fifth -- they scored the tying run on a daring suicide squeeze by Ruben Tejada -- the Marlins answered with two runs in the sixth. Juan Lagares missed a diving catch and Curtis Granderson misread a ball in rightfield, leading to a pair of run-scoring doubles that put the Mets in a 4-2 hole. But they didn't stay down for long.
The clutch hit came from Young, whose season-long struggles already have deprived him of playing time and soon might cost him a roster spot. Nevertheless, after Tejada walked, he needed only one pitch from Bryan Morris to tie the score. "Never have I given up," said Young, who is hitting .199. "I always realize how many games are left. I always realize what's possible."
The shot might have been moot had Murphy not leaped to rob Adeiny Hechavarria of a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth.
"I just jumped as high as I could and I caught it," Murphy said. "It was one of those plays where you're at the mercy of your own athleticism. And fortunately, I barely had enough."
Later, the Mets would say the same about Campbell, whose jam shot won the game.
The Mets have lost 20 one-run games, the most in the big leagues. But they've won three straight one-run games. The difference is obvious.
Said Campbell: "We're getting big hits now."