Saturday, September 1, 2012
Mets regaining that winning feeling
By Walter Villa
MIAMI -- The New York Mets have won three straight series, which certainly doesn’t erase what happened in the previous weeks when the team dropped six series in a row, including a four-game sweep at home to Colorado.
Tracing it back further, the Mets had lost 11 of 13 series with one split before this positive stretch against Houston, at Philadelphia and at Miami.
All three of those opponents have losing records, but, still, a winning feeling has returned to the Mets clubhouse.
And when the team is winning, players can joke and enjoy the moment.
Take Kelly Shoppach, the hero of Saturday night’s come-from-behind 5-3 win over the Marlins. Shoppach, who the Mets traded for on August 14, is a funny guy.
When Shoppach hit a two-run single in the ninth to give the Mets a 4-3 lead, the backup catcher expected to stop at first base. But when Marlins center fielder Justin Ruggiano had the ball bounce off his glove for an error, Shoppach advanced to third.
Asked if he was thinking third base on the play, Shoppach laughed.
“Nooooooo,” he said. “Two bases at a time -- that’s my max.”
Mets rookie starter Jeremy Hefner was also in a light mood after his team rallied to take him off the hook for what would have been a hard-luck loss. (He allowed just two runs in six innings.)
Asked what was said in the dugout when Mets catcher Josh Thole ended an 0-for-30 drought, Hefner made a joke.
“I think he asked for the ball,” Hefner said.
Seriously, though, Mets manager Terry Collins said his hitters put up some “great at-bats” in the ninth, starting with singles by Daniel Murphy and David Wright to start the frame.
Lucas Duda got a one-out single, and Andres Torres drew a two-out walk, seeing seven pitches.
Shoppach said that was key because he had never faced Marlins closer Steve Cishek.
“That funky delivery (of Cishek), I got a bunch of pitches to see with Andres while I was up close (on the on-deck circle),” Shoppach said. “That helped a lot. It was a great at-bat by Andres. I saw all of his pitches.”