MIAMI — It was around this time a year ago that injuries gutted the Mets. For two months, it was as if they could only watch the air slowly leak out of their balloon, helpless to stop the bleeding after a hot start.
So they operated as if under siege, a challenge they face again one year later, now that David Wright has officially landed on the disabled list.
“Guys have got to start doing some things better,” manager Terry Collins said Friday night after the Mets beat the Marlins, 6-2. “I think they know that.”
First baseman James Loney hadn’t homered off a lefty in nearly two years. Third baseman Wilmer Flores hadn’t knocked in a run in nearly a month. Catcher Rene Rivera hadn’t ever shown much, aside from his skill on defense.
Injuries have thrust all three into more prominent roles. And for one night, each gave the Mets what they’ll need if they are to weather this storm.
Recently acquired in a trade to fill in for Lucas Duda, Loney hammered his first home run as a member of the Mets, a two-run shot off lefty Mike Dunn in the seventh that put them ahead for good.
Flores gave the Mets their first lead on a two-out, broken-bat single in the fourth. It followed Asdrubal Cabrera’s home run to lead off the inning.
“You just have that feeling that you’re going to get the opportunity tomorrow to play,” said Flores, who went 2-for-3 in his first chance at extended playing time after struggling badly coming off the bench.
Rivera added some needed insurance with a two-run homer in the ninth, the Mets’ 10th hit of the night.
For Noah Syndergaard, the support was more than enough. The dominant righthander used his typically nasty array of 100-mph fastballs and low-90s sliders to handcuff the Marlins.
“That’s the thing about us,” said Syndergaard, who permitted only two runs and six hits with nine strikeouts. “We have the ability to pick one another up.”
Syndergaard hadn’t allowed a home run or an earned run in any of his appearances since May 11, when he gave up a solo shot to the Padres’ Yasmani Grandal. But with one powerful swing, both of those streaks came crashing to an end.
Marcell Ozuna’s booming homer in the second gave the Marlins a 1-0 lead. It was the first earned run off Syndergaard in 22 1⁄3 innings.
He did not allow another run until the sixth. Ozuna again delivered the big swing, lifting a game-tying sacrifice fly to drive in Martin Prado.
But by the end of the night, Loney was parading around the clubhouse wearing the WWE-style belt awarded to the player of the game. Loney snapped a 2-2 tie with his first homer since Aug. 7, while with the Rays.
“Who doesn’t want to hit a home run?” Loney said before posing for pictures with his championship belt.
The Mets can’t afford to wait for more help. They must help themselves first. This was the message that Collins imparted when he met with his coaching staff before the series opener, and one that seemed to trickle down to the clubhouse.
“This may be what we’re running out there,” Collins said. “So we’ve just got to get the most out of every guy.”
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