Mets designated hitter J.D. Martinez gestures after he scored on...

Mets designated hitter J.D. Martinez gestures after he scored on his solo home run as San Diego Padres catcher Kyle Higashioka looks on during the seventh inning of an MLB baseball game at Citi Field on Saturday, June 15, 2024. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Mets have been making progress in their attempt to get off the road to nowhere.

“A combination of a lot of things,” manager Carlos Mendoza said. “At-bats, one through nine. Getting hits when we need it. Our bullpen now getting huge outs. Having [Edwin] Diaz back the last couple of nights. Starters keeping us in games.

“So there’s a lot of things going our way now that it was hard for us during the month of May.”

The manager was speaking before Saturday’s game against San Diego at Citi Field. His surging Mets showed up for work having won three straight, seven of nine and nine of 13.

Then they went out and beat the Padres, 5-1.

So make it four straight, eight of 10 and 10 of 14.

“Right now, we’re riding a good wave,” said Francisco Lindor, who made a defensive play that was a sight to behold. “We’ll ride it as long as we can and then we’ll find a new wave after.”

 

The surf has been up for J.D. Martinez in particular.

The 36-year-old DH had three more hits, including two homers, and three RBIs.

Jose Quintana turned in one of his best starts, allowing one run and two hits in six innings. Dedniel Nunez (two innings) and Reed Garrett (one inning) finished off the combined two-hitter.

So the Mets have gone from 11 under .500 to five under. They’re up to 32-37.

And look at this: They’re just two games out of the last National League wild-card spot, albeit with seven teams in the way.

“I feel like the guys have been feeling more confident,” Martinez said. “It’s just one of those things that I keep telling about it. It’s like just go out there and play well. Let’s have fun and not worry about winning and losing. Let’s just play our game and kind of just take the pressure off everybody.”

This stretch of good results started after a players-only meeting.

“When they got together, I think they were brutally honest with each other,” Mendoza said. “We’re talking about accountability here. It was just good. The fact that we started playing better, is it a coincidence? Maybe. But I expect this to [continue] because they’re too good of players there. They care and they prepare.”

Quintana arrived at 1-5 with a 5.29 ERA across 13 starts. The 35-year-old lefthander’s previous start lasted 3 2⁄3 innings, and the one before that lasted four.

This one was a vast improvement. He fanned a season-high six and walked two. Mendoza liked his pitch sequencing and Quintana felt he was reading swings better.

“I needed this kind of outing,” he said.

The Mets backed him with a three-run fourth inning.

Lindor hustled for a two-out double to left-center and Brandon Nimmo followed by lining an RBI double to right-center, ending the afternoon for rookie righthander Adam Mazur (0-2).

Martinez, who launched a walk-off two-run homer in Thursday night’s 3-2 win over Miami and had a two-run double in Friday night’s 2-1 series opener, powered a two-run shot to right-center off former Yankees righty Jhony Brito for a 3-0 advantage.

Jackson Merrill cracked a solo shot in the fifth to get the Padres (37-37) within 3-1. Martinez made it 4-1 when he led off the seventh against Enyel De Los Santos with another homer to right-center.

It was his eighth homer. It also marked the 23rd career multihomer game for Martinez, who has reached base in 19 straight games.

“For me, I love to hit,” he said. “I love to play ball. I know that I prepare. I know that I do everything I can possibly do to get ready for every at-bat.”

“He’s a master at hitting, and it’s fun to watch,” Lindor said.

Nimmo, emerging from a deep slump with two hits for the second straight game, added an RBI single in the eighth off Stephen Kolek.

And then there was the Lindor gem. It came with a runner on first and two outs in the fourth.

Donovan Solano hit a one-hopper that seemed ticketed for left-center, but Lindor ranged far to his left to stab it and made a backhand flip to Jeff McNeil at second for the inning-ending out.

“Amazing,” Quintana said. “Amazing.”

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