- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
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Collins was particularly disappointed with the Mets' approach at the plate. They had two in scoring position with none out in the second inning on Sunday, but Anthony Recker, Darrell Ceciliani and Ruben Tejada consecutively struck out. An inning later, with two on base and one out, Michael Cuddyer and Daniel Murphy consecutively struck out.
The Mets struck out 36 times in the series.
Since an 11-game winning streak, they are 11-18.
Collins also wanted to guard against a "woe-is-me" feeling considering the weekend news that David Wright will miss a prolonged period with renewed lower-back discomfort. And he wanted players to speak up if they are hurt. Lucas Duda had denied to his manager Saturday that he was hurt, despite Collins witnessing Duda grab his right hamstring after sliding into second base earlier that day.
"We're just not executing," Collins said. "For five years, the effort has never been a question. We've just got to go back and start doing the little things. And this is not about who is not here. This is about who is here. If they're here, they're good enough. So we've got to start playing like it.
"Right now we're on the edge because of the news yesterday [with Wright] -- some of the things that have happened physically to some guys. You've got to go play. Every team goes through it. Every team is going to go through it. This is our stage. We are not dead. We're not dead in the water by any stretch of the imagination. They've just got to get it going. We plan on starting tomorrow."
Collins rejected a suggestion that the Mets are at a "critical" stretch of the season as they open a season on Memorial Day against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field. He noted the team is 24-21.
"It's New York. There's drama," Collins said. "We've still got 119 [actually 117 to play]. It used to be that was a lot of games. And when you're two games out of first, I think it's safe to say it's not a critical juncture. But we've got to turn it around now."
Collins said it boils down to a better game plan at the plate.
"You go up with a better thought process," he said. "What always happens when you go through tough times is they want to be the guy that breaks it open instead of just doing their part and leaving it maybe for the next guy. So we have to get back to that.
"I've done this more than most of you have been alive," the manager continued as he addressed the media postgame "They're human beings. Everybody goes through it. Everybody gets frustrated. Everybody presses at some time. What you try to do is pick the right time to say, 'Knock it off. You're big league players. You're the best of the best. Let's just go play like it.'"
Players said they approved of Collins' message.
"He said all the right things," said Jonathon Niese, who was knocked out in the fifth inning of the series finale. "I told him in the cafeteria afterward, 'I couldn't have said it better myself.' Everything he said to us, I was thinking it. At this point, it's about execution. We can't feel sorry for ourselves. We've got to step it up and execute."
Said Cuddyer: "What he said was good. This series is over. We're going to go in where we've been playing really well, at home, and execute -- recognize situations and execute those situations."