Mets gain confidence in first game without Wright
Duda, d'Arnaud help fill void with captain on the DL
NEW YORK -- In a way, Wednesday marked the beginning of the rest of the year for the Mets. Gone was the pomp and circumstance of the season's first road trip, the home opener at Citi Field and the first Matt Harvey Day in a year and a half. Gone also was captain David Wright, lost to a strained right hamstring for at least the next two weeks.
In place of all that was a club looking to win plain, old regular-season games amidst plain, old regular-season circumstances. The type of games that, over a six-month season, separate great teams from good ones.
The Mets took another step in that direction by winning Wednesday, 6-1, to sweep the Phillies and move into a first-place tie in the National League East. For one day at least, the Mets not only survived without Wright, but thrived, proving superior to one of several NL teams they are supposed to beat.
"The guys seemed like, 'Hey look, it's just another day,'" manager Terry Collins said.
When general manager Sandy Alderson discussed Wright's condition earlier in the afternoon, he did not express a hope that the Mets would rebound. He expressed an expectation. As if to vindicate that, the Mets went out and bashed two more homers in the win, one of them a moon shot by Lucas Duda over the center-field fence -- the old, old center-field fence, behind the twice-renovated blue one.
Duda finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs, and may not have even been the night's brightest star. Competing for that title was catcher Travis d'Arnaud, who said it "meant the world" to him that Collins moved him into Wright's No. 2 spot in the lineup. Lifting his own home run down the left-field line, d'Arnaud reached base three times, scored twice and guided starting pitcher Jon Niese to 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball.
As a result, the Mets won their fourth straight for the first time this season -- a feat that last year, took them until July to achieve.
"It means a lot," Collins said. "It means a lot to our fans and it means a lot to our organization. I looked at today's game as a very big game for us due to the loss of David. I wanted to see how the guys came out. They came out this afternoon ready to go."
That included Wright's replacement at third base, Eric Campbell, who took a late-night flight from California to Las Vegas and an early-morning one from Vegas to New York, sitting near a crying baby and arriving at Citi Field on three hours of sleep.
"I'm tired," Campbell admitted late Wednesday afternoon, before going out and scoring the Mets' first run of the night.
There will be other points this season when the Mets are tired. There will be points when they are even more battered. There will be points when they find themselves playing stronger teams than the Phillies, whom most experts predict to wallow near the bottom of the NL. But as long as the Mets respond like they did on Wednesday, it shouldn't matter.
"We're going to go through a lot more adversity during the season," Niese said, referring specifically to Wright's injury. "This is just one speed bump in the road. I know we're going to be able to get through it. We've got a good team, good camaraderie in the clubhouse. We all fight for each other."
Added Duda: "I think we can all band together and make this thing work."