PHILADELPHIA - Eight days ago, the Mets fired hitting coach Dave Hudgens and released reliever Jose Valverde after a brutal loss on Memorial Day. A season that started with thoughts of 90 wins seemed to be disintegrating into chaos.
Fast-forward to Tuesday: The Mets will wake up in Chicago with six wins in seven games since those changes, thanks to Monday night’s 11-2 wipeout of the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
At 28-29, the Mets are tied with Washington for third place in the NL East.
“I think it got people’s attention,” manager Terry Collins said of the Memorial Day moves. “That’s for sure.”
Bartolo Colon pitched his third straight gem, Wilmer Flores hit a grand slam and drove in six runs, and Matt den Dekker stole a home run and threw out a runner at the plate as the Mets ended a very long five-game series. “It was great for us to be able to sit back and relax for a little while,” Collins said. “We got some runs and we got a couple big hits and during the course of the ninth inning, some real big hits.”
The Mets took four of the five games, including two of three marathons over the weekend. The teams played 14 innings on Friday and Saturday and 11 innings Sunday.
Monday night’s regulation-sized game was a makeup of a rainout from April 20. All told, the teams played 57 innings and 20 hours, 36 minutes of baseball. “We’re tired,” Collins said. “I’m not going to make any bones about it.”
Colon (5-5) was charged with two runs in seven innings-plus in winning his third straight start (1.61 ERA in 22 1/3 innings).
Colon had his scoreless streak snapped at 16 1/3 innings when the Phillies scored in the sixth inning. But the Mets already were in control by then, thanks in part to the defensive prowess of den Dekker, who was filling in for the injured Juan Lagares.
Den Dekker had spent Sunday in Philadelphia (and in limbo — he even visited the Liberty Bell) as the Mets waited to see if they needed to put Lagares on the disabled list with a rib-cage strain. They did Monday. Den Dekker soon showed why he once was considered Lagares’ defensive equal.
The Mets were leading 1-0 thanks to back-to-back doubles by Bobby Abreu and Lucas Duda in the second against Roberto Hernandez. Ryan Howard led off the bottom of the inning with a long drive to center. But den Dekker leaped high above the railing and caught it to rob Howard of a sure home run.
Den Dekker struck again in the third when he gunned down former Yankee Reid Brignac at home on a single by Ben Revere. Den Dekker made a perfect throw to cut down Brignac by plenty after an unwise send by third-base coach Pete Mackanin. Den Dekker had the ball before the runner even got to third.
“I didn’t think they would send him,” said den Dekker, who said all he was trying to do was hit the cutoff man.
The game stayed 1-0 until the Mets scored four in the sixth to knock out Hernandez (2-3). David Wright had a two-run double off Hernandez and Flores had a two-run double off reliever Mario Hollands to make it 5-0.
Curtis Granderson added a two-run single in the ninth before Flores’ grand slam capped the Mets’ six-run inning.