Ike Davis may have saved himself from a demotion to the minors, again, on Wednesday. And the New York Mets continued their climb back to respectability.
A day after being told by team brass that he was on the verge of being shipped to Triple-A Las Vegas, Davis produced two hits against the New York Yankees, including a two-RBI single, part of a five-run first inning. And the Mets won their season-high fourth game in a row, and third straight against their crosstown rivals, 9-4.
"I just think there’s a different attitude in the clubhouse," Mets manager Terry Collins said afterward. "I think they now think they can win some games."
Davis took extra batting practice Wednesday, and said he was working on a couple of things, including standing taller at the plate.
"It definitely felt good to make solid contact twice and have decent at-bats," Davis said. "I definitely felt more comfortable in the box today."
Davis dismissed the notion that the meeting on Tuesday impacted his play the next day. "Basically, [they] just said I’ve gotta play better," Davis said. "That’s what I’m trying to do. I’ve been trying to do that for a long time now. So nothing really has changed.
"I just have to play better. That’s what I’m gonna try to do. Work my butt off, and see what happens."
Added Collins: "We’re all rooting for Ike. You have to root for him, he’s a tremendous guy, he’s a big piece of this team. If we’re gonna have a chance to win baseball games, Ike Davis needs to be in the middle of that lineup. To sort of get him started I think is a huge boost."
The Mets (21-29), who were 12 games under .500 just four days ago, are suddenly feeling very good about themselves.
Jonathon Niese and Matt Harvey both pitched extremely well in the first two games of this series. And Jeremy Hefner (1-5, 4.74 ERA) finally picked up his first win of the season Wednesday, allowing just three runs in six solid innings.
Hefner had pitched better of late, but the Mets were still 0-9 in games he had started -- one off the team record to start a season, set by Anthony Young in 1993.
"Obviously, the changeup was working tonight, the two-seamer was working," Collins said.
The Mets' bullpen, a sore spot for much of the first two months of the season, held the Yankees to just one run over their final three frames. Scott Rice, the 31-year-old rookie, made his 29th appearance -- tied for the major league lead. One night after picking up a win in relief, Rice recorded five more outs, giving up just one hit.
"Scott Rice has been unbelievable," Collins said.
At the plate, every player in the lineup Wednesday had at least one hit, except for Mike Baxter -- and even he reached base twice, via a walk and a hit-by-pitch.
(The only downer was the quadriceps injury suffered by shortstop Ruben Tejada in the ninth inning. Tejada left the game, and will be evaluated by team doctors on Thursday morning.)
Murphy thinks the Mets, written off before Memorial Day, could still make some noise in the National League this year.
"I still feel like there is a lot of baseball left," Murphy said. "I think the last four days, with the three games against the Yankees and the one against the Braves, we’ve shown what kind of baseball we can play. In this job, it’s about being as consistent as possible. And it starts tomorrow."
The Mets have never swept a season series from the Yankees. They'll try to make history in the Bronx on Thursday. But their manager thinks they've already accomplished a lot this week.
"We’re trying to get back in the mix of things. So it's huge for us," Collins said. "I don’t know about all the past games, all I know is it’s a great series, I know it’s a great rivalry, I know it’s in the greatest city going for baseball. For us, this is a big series. This may be the kick-start to what we hope will be a good summer."