Ike Davis used words such as "terrible" and "awful" to describe the way he began the season. He wondered aloud if the writers covering the team could have done better. When times got really bad, each at-bat felt so foreign, he likened the experience to playing the game for the very first time.
"Obviously, I wasn't myself," Davis said.
Which is why the milestone he reached in Monday night's 6-2 win over the Pirates at Citi Field looks even more impressive. With a pair of home runs, Davis reached the 30-homer mark for the first time in his career.
"I at least made myself feel a little better about my season," said Davis, whose 17 homers since the All-Star break rank second in the National League.
Davis hit a two-run shot in the fourth before drilling a three-run homer in the fifth. He finished with a career-high five RBIs.
"It's huge," said manager Terry Collins, who has dealt with a mostly punchless lineup all season. "And you can't just find those guys."
Davis' outburst helped Mets starter Jenrry Mejia to a first of his own. Until Monday night, Mejia had never recorded a major-league victory. But the 22-year-old tossed five scoreless innings, bouncing back from his previous start on Sept. 15, when he lasted just three-plus innings.
"I felt a lot better tonight," said Mejia, who scattered four hits but finished with four strikeouts and just two walks.
Mejia sidestepped some of those issues that derailed him against the Brewers. Generally, he avoided leaving fastballs over the heart of the plate. Even when he did make a mistake, the Pirates failed to inflict major damage.
It took only one inning for Mejia to improve in one important area. In a scoreless first, he generated three swings and misses, two of them to record a strikeout. He blew 95-mph fastballs past both Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones. He also got Jones out in front of an off-speed pitch, which set up the strikeout. The signs were especially encouraging considering that he failed to miss a bat even once in his start against the Brewers.
Mejia needed 72 pitches to get through his first three innings, once again falling behind in the counts. However, he needed only 24 to finish his last two frames.
Mejia helped himself by keeping the ball on the ground. He recorded eight ground-ball outs compared with just one flyout. And of the four hits he surrendered, Neil Walker's second-inning liner was the only one in the air.
Davis, who has endured a tumultuous season, made sure it would be a winning effort. In the four-year history of Citi Field -- this season the first with fences brought in -- Davis became the first Met to finish with at least 30 homers.
Said Davis: "It's a cool milestone."
Notes & quotes: Closer Frank Francisco remains day-to-day with tendinitis in his right elbow. Because he has suffered no structural damage to his elbow, the Mets hope Francisco pitches again this season . . . Daniel Murphy swiped second base in the first inning as Pirates starter Kyle McPherson rubbed up the baseball . . . David Wright's run-scoring single moved him within two hits of Ed Kranepool's franchise hits record of 1,814.