Nearly two weeks ago, the Mets arrived at a critical juncture, their season in danger of entering a tailspin.
They had slipped to a double-digit deficit in the standings. Their underperforming lineup looked even worse with David Wright nursing a bad left shoulder. They badly needed to right the ship during a 10-game home stand heading into the All-Star break.
Now the Mets might want to skip the break altogether.
In thrashing the Marlins, 9-1, Sunday, the Mets extended what has arguably been their best stretch of baseball this season. They wrapped up the home stand at 8-2, completed a three-game sweep of the division rival Marlins and positioned themselves to climb into contention. The Mets (45-50) pulled into the break in third place in the NL East, seven games out of first and seven games out of a wild-card spot.
"If we continue to play like this," manager Terry Collins said, "September is going to be a fun month."
The notion of fun seemed out of reach not long ago, when the offense was sputtering and the Mets routinely wasted strong starts from their pitchers. But that has changed.
"We're playing complete games," Wright said. "The offense hasn't had to pick up the pitching. The pitching hasn't had to pick up the offense. It's all come together these last 10 days or so. It's been fun to be a part of."
Citi Field, which had been a house of horrors for the Mets, has suddenly became a safe haven. The Mets improved to 25-23 at home, where they hadn't held a winning mark since going 7-6 in April 2013.
Entering the home stand, the Mets were generating only 3.9 runs per game. In their 10-game stay, they upped that mark to 5.5 runs. "These guys just stepped it up, got the offense and the pitching going at the same time, and that's how you put streaks together," Collins said.
Rookie Jacob deGrom (3-5) held the Marlins to one run, which came only because of a miscue in the outfield, in seven innings. In his last five starts, he has pitched to a 1.65 ERA, with 38 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings.
Wright had two RBIs, giving him seven in nine games since missing more than a week with a sore left shoulder. Chris Young also drove in two runs. Curtis Granderson had three of the Mets' 14 hits, including an RBI double, continuing his ascent after a brutal start.
Lucas Duda, Juan Lagares, Anthony Recker and deGrom added run-scoring hits.
On the first day of the home stand, Collins said it would be "tremendous" to win seven games. The Mets finished with eight, six against division rivals Atlanta and Miami.
The Nationals and Braves, who are in a virtual tie for first in the NL East, have a seven-game lead on the Mets, and by at least one estimate, the Mets have only a 2.2 percent chance of closing the gap in the division, and a 3 percent probability of making the postseason.
But with the way they've rebounded, the Mets believe that with 67 games left and 35 remaining against their own division, it's not too late to make some noise.
"We know that they're both very talented teams and teams that have a lot of household names," Wright said. "We might not be there yet. But we're playing very, very good baseball and we plan on giving them a run for their money."