It took five pitches.
Five pitches for the Mets to change the tenor of their season, for anxious excitement to turn into dizzy bedlam, and for this team to say loudly and emphatically that this is for real.
Five pitches for a one-run deficit to turn into an eventual 5-2 win over the Washington Nationals Sunday night that created a virtual tie for first place in the NL East between the two teams.
"I've seen a lot of things and been a lot of places," Terry Collins said. "But I've never experienced the emotional roller coaster that we've lived through in the past 10 days here at home."
From the ascent of Wilmer Flores, folk hero, to Lucas Duda's offensive outburst and the addition of four key players via trade, it's been a crazy stretch in Flushing, but in a charged third inning, it finally came together in a way only the most zealous of fans could imagine.
With two outs and the Mets down by one, Curtis Granderson blasted a 2-and-2 curveball to right, a sky-high fly ball that landed in the Pepsi Porch for a two-run homer.
The crowd, a tense gathering that had mostly filed into Citi Field well before first pitch, exhaled. They screamed. They danced. And they didn't sit down much after that.
The next pitch, Jordan Zimmermann's 96-mph fastball to Daniel Murphy, took the same trajectory. But after Murphy's drive high into the Pepsi Porch, the Home Run Apple stayed down, unable to recuperate from Granderson's home run.
Yoenis Cespedes took a ball before stroking a single to left, his first hit as a Met. Then came Duda, who had hit eight home runs in seven games and promptly added to that streak on Zimmermann's first pitch.
"The last three games against the Nationals have been unbelievable, really, the energy," said Duda, who loves to underplay things ("I just got lucky," he said of his home run).
It was the first time the Mets hit three homers in an inning since 2007.
Duda's towering homer to rightfield gave the Mets a 5-1 lead and brought the type of raucous celebration usually reserved for postseason baseball.
No reason to calm down, though. Not even the Mets were downplaying the importance of the series and this particular game. "I kinda hyped this up myself," Collins said before the game. When it was over, he added: "We're excited. We know we've got 50-something [games] to go . . . But this is a big weekend for us."
The Mets still are a bit behind the Nationals in winning percentage, .52427 to .52381. Still, by sweeping the Nationals in a three-game series for the first time since 2009, they are in a virtual tie for first place.
Noah Syndergaard (6-5, 2.66) was able to work around home runs by Anthony Rendon and Yunel Escobar, giving up seven hits, walking none and striking out nine in eight innings (109 pitches).
With one out in the first, Rendon caught up to a belt-high, 98-mph fastball and blasted it to left-center. It originally was ruled a double, but a review showed it actually had hit above the orange line, giving Rendon his first home run of the season. Escobar homered to left-center to cut the Nationals' deficit to 5-2 in the sixth.
Former National Tyler Clippard pitched a scoreless ninth. In the end, both pitchers echoed the same sentiment. It's one that hasn't been heard too much around Citi Field in recent years.
"It's fun to be a part of this team," Clippard said. "I love this team."
Added Syndergaard: "It's so much fun . . . I'm looking forward to the things to come."
After all, if that much can change in five pitches, imagine what two more months can do.