Collins held a closed clubhouse meeting in the wake of his team's 8-4 loss to the Marlins, and the Mets elected to option three players to Triple-A Las Vegas after the game. For Collins, this wasn't about one loss as much as it was about turning his team around for the long haul.
"This is when you reach down inside and you find out who belongs here and who doesn't," he said after his team's fifth straight loss to Miami. "I'll tell you what: We've been talking all along about the future. ... We've got to start getting everybody to understand what it takes to play here."
The Mets sent three players -- first baseman Ike Davis, outfielder Mike Baxter and left-handed reliever Robert Carson -- down to Triple-A after the game, and they will bring up some replacements before the team resumes its season on Tuesday against the Cardinals. And if the Mets were waiting for a perfect moment to push the button, they found it after playing 30 innings in two days against Miami.
The Marlins took a 2-1 win in 20 innings Saturday -- the longest Major League game since 2010 -- and Collins said Sunday that it was the most frustrating defeat of his career. But then came the finale, which saw the Mets take a 4-1 lead and then allow the Marlins to score seven straight runs.
New York got five hits in the first three innings Sunday -- two of which came on bunts -- and then had just one more hit for the rest of the game. Miami put together a go-ahead rally in the 10th against Bobby Parnell, and Carson allowed a two-run homer to Miguel Olivo to salt the game away.
And in the aftermath, the Mets decided they just couldn't go forward without making changes.
"It's tough to sit through 30 innings and score not even [get] a handful of runs," said general manager Sandy Alderson after Sunday's defeat. "So it's been frustrating for everybody. I'm sure it was frustrating for our fans, too. But we've got an off-day tomorrow and we've got to pick it up on Tuesday."
The Mets have lost six of their last seven games following four straight victories over the Yankees, and Sunday's defeat dropped them 12 games under .500 to equal their worst position all year. David Wright, the team's All-Star third baseman, said the changes weren't really a surprise.
"When things don't go well and you're struggling the way we're struggling, changes come whether you like it or not," he said. "I think what any player, what any coach and what any front office strives for is consistency. But you can't have consistency when you're a dozen or so games under .500."
New York (23-35) and Miami were tied after two innings Sunday, but the Mets pushed ahead with a three-run burst in the third inning. Wright doubled home two runs and cleanup hitter Daniel Murphy -- who had homered earlier in the game -- sent another runner home on a fielder's choice.
But the Mets would struggle to find any offense for the rest of the game. New York got just two baserunners after the fourth inning -- one on a walk and one on a hit -- and finished 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position a day after the Mets had gone 0-for-19 in those same circumstances.
"It's not about preparation," Wright said. "It's about execution. We know offensively that the chances to drive runs in when we're struggling like this are going to be few and far between. I think obviously guys are putting a little extra pressure on themselves to get that big hit. And then that kind of rolls over into the pitching staff. They feel like they have to be perfect because we're not scoring many runs."
Miami, meanwhile, couldn't solve starting pitcher Jon Niese and didn't really threaten until the sixth inning. Marcell Ozuna doubled in one run and another run scored on an error charged to center fielder Juan Lagares, but the Marlins made two straight outs with the potential tying run on third base.
Miami (18-44) got another chance to tie the score in the seventh, but Ed Lucas grounded out to third base with two outs and two runners on base. The heavy lifting had to wait until the top of the eighth, when rookie Derek Dietrich tied the game on a solo home run up the right-field line.
And that was just the beginning of the end. The Marlins stranded two runners on base in the eighth and ninth innings before crafting their winning rally. The go-ahead run scored on an error by Murphy at second base, and the Marlins added a sacrifice fly and Olivo's back-breaking home run.
"We knew that we had our work cut out for us," said Wright. "We knew it was going to be challenging. But I think that, needless to say, we've underperformed. Like I said, it's execution. And we're not executing on a number of different levels and a number of different areas in the game."
In the Mets' last 20 home games, they're batting .199 (135-for-680). They're averaging 2.3 runs per game and are 5-15 in that span.
Davis went 0-for-3 on Sunday to drop his season batting average to .161, and the Mets are hoping that a demotion to Triple-A will allow him to get his swing and his confidence back in order. Collins said that he's been pleased with the effort from his players, but bottom line, he needs better results.
"I do believe there's an honor to play here. There's a privilege to play here," Collins said. "You've earned the right to be here, but you have to earn the right to stay here."