What the Mets derived from a less than successful homestand was the belief that Juan Lagares is headed in the right direction.
Terry Collins, displeased with the 4-3 loss, wasn't in the best mood Monday after the Giants took three of four games. But the manager did brighten when his centerfielder's name was mentioned.
Lagares had three hits and was 11-for-25 (.440) during the seven-game homestand at Citi Field. His average is up to .283. "He's starting to swing the bat,'' Collins said. "I keep saying this kid is going to be a really, really good player.''
Lagares ended the last road trip 0-for-17. "That's going to happen,'' the centerfielder said. "You're going to go 0-for 5, 0-for-10, 0-for-20. Keep working in the batting cage. When you think too much, it's going to be the most trouble.''
Hitting with consistency will make Lagares a complete player. He already provides Gold Glove-caliber defense and has one of the best arms in baseball. He displayed it in the seventh inning when he fielded Pablo Sandoval's single up the middle and threw out Gregor Blanco at the plate.
"With as strong as his arm is, I knew if we had an accurate throw, we had a chance,'' catcher Travis d'Arnaud said. "I know I caught it, put the tag down. I felt like he was sliding right over my glove.''
"You just go aggressive to the ball and make a good throw," Lagares said. "You never know what's going to happen. I don't remember the last time I threw somebody out at home. Thank God I made a very good throw.''
Earlier in the inning, leadoff batter Hunter Pence hit a triple that landed near the 370-foot sign in left-centerfield on a play in which Lagares and leftfielder Chris Young both jumped to catch it and nearly collided.
"We both felt like we had a chance at the ball,'' Young said. "It could have been a little bit of confusion as we're both going up at the same time. Things like that happen. One of those in-between balls -- you feel like you have a shot so you just go after it. I'm just happy nobody collided and got hurt. It was unfortunate we couldn't make the play.''
Lagares tried to throw out Pence at third on the play. "If that's on the bag,'' Collins said of the throw, "Pence is out. And he threw that ball 280 feet in the air.''
Young has had other teammates with great arms, mentioning Yoenis Cespedes, Gerardo Parra and Josh Reddick.
"Lagares is right there at the same level,'' Young said. "He has a strong arm and he's accurate. He's able to make big plays.''