Mets romp past Marlins, 11-5
MIAMI - In search of a symbol to make their own, the Mets reached back into the childhood of their rightfielder, Curtis Granderson.
He grew up in suburban Chicago, coming of age just as his hometown Bulls began a run of three straight NBA titles. Role players Cliff Levingston and Stacey King often waved towels, their way of celebrating from the bench, an image that stuck with Granderson.
"For some reason, that popped into my head," he said after Sunday's 11-5 thrashing of the Marlins. "Hopefully, it can be a little something that keeps us going."
They waved after each of the 17 Mets hits, equaling a season high. They waved after Daniel Murphy's three-run homer, his sixth of the season. And they waved when pitcher Jonathon Niese executed a perfect bunt, pushing a run across on a daring suicide squeeze.
Even though the Mets looked like a surrendering army -- the towels happened to be white -- they blitzed through the Marlins to take three of four in the series.
After falling to a season-worst nine games under the .500 mark, the Mets (35-41) have reeled off four wins in five games. "We've been waiting a long time to break one open," Terry Collins said.
This time, there was no drama, as the Mets jumped to a 7-0 lead and never looked back. It was a welcome reprieve for Niese, who has emerged as one of the league's best starters but won for only the fourth time because of a chronic lack of run support.
"It was great, a good feeling, to kind of hit them hard and hit them early," said Niese (4-4), who allowed three runs in six innings.
By the seventh, every Mets starter except Niese had at least one hit.
Recently promoted outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis made the most of his spot start, smashing a pair of doubles that ignited two-run rallies in the second and fourth innings. Lucas Duda added three hits, as did Granderson, who hopes to begin a new Mets tradition.
"The good thing is it's not a rally thing, so you don't have to wait for it," Granderson said.
Getting the towel-waving to catch on took some time, with the Mets in need of somebody who would reciprocate after reaching base. They crossed that barrier Wednesday afternoon in St. Louis during one of the season's most memorable moments. Veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon hammered the first double of his major-league career and Eric Young Jr. followed with a double of his own. When Colon shuffled home, Young stood on second base and spun his hand as if he were waving a towel,
Later, he said he had done it at the behest of Granderson.
Said Granderson: "Hopefully, that will be our thing . . . especially if the fans are feeding off of it."
By the end of the road trip, which the Mets finished 4-3, the towel waving had taken hold. As the Mets piled on the runs against the Marlins, even the pitchers sitting in the bullpen had joined in, as had a contingent of fans at Marlins Park. Before the end of the game, Granderson said he tossed five or six towels into the stands for those who felt they were missing out.
"I guess every team needs some sort of gimmick," Mets captain David Wright said. "I guess that's ours."