Terry Collins turned to words. It was all that was left. So Thursday, the embattled manager went on a rant in front of the television cameras about playing with energy and passion. He later reiterated the message to his players in a clubhouse meeting.
Deeds, however, carry much more weight. And a little luck never hurts, either.
It took 11 agonizing innings, the fortitude to fight back after a blown save, and one timely brain cramp. But the Mets beat the Padres, 3-2, on Saturday night, offering a sliver of hope that they may yet pull out of their tailspin.
“I thought he was going to turn two,” said Wilmer Flores, who knocked in the winning run on what should have been an inning-ending twin killing. “But that’s one of the things about putting the ball in play — anything can happen.”
And that includes Padres second baseman Ryan Schimpf throwing home — well wide of the plate — when he could have started a double play, with the plodding Flores chugging up the first-base line.
“We’re just hoping this turns the tide,” Collins said.
The Mets ended a four-game losing streak, even after squandering a brilliant outing by Jacob deGrom when closer Jeurys Familia allowed a tying solo home run to left by Wil Myers with two outs in the ninth.
“You’re kind of shaking your head going . . . how did this happen?” said Neil Walker, who would triggered the 11th-inning rally that helped the Mets climb back to the .500 mark and cut their deficit in the wild-card race to 2 1⁄2 games.
Gabriel Ynoa, promoted earlier in the day, pitched a a perfect 11th inning to notch the victory in his big-league debut. But it began with deGrom, who struck out nine and allowed just one run in seven innings.
“Every win’s big, especially now,” said deGrom, whose only mistake was a solo shot to Yangervis Solarte. DeGrom allowed only three hits and took a no-hitter into the fifth.
The righty has a 1.49 ERA in his last nine starts, making his early-season struggles a distant memory. But he got only two runs of support — on Walker’s RBI single to score Jose Reyes in the first and Kelly Johnson’s go-ahead sacrifice fly in the seventh.
It was almost enough. But Familia, after converting his first 36 save chances this season, has blown three of his last six opportunities. He had not allowed a homer in the regular season since Sept. 23 last season.
But during his tirade Thursday, Collins had pressed the Mets to play with passion. His intent was to make it known that their playoff chances were still alive. One day after the Mets rallied only to fall short, they finished the job.
In the 11th, Walker began the uprising with a leadoff single. After Jay Bruce flied out to deep right, James Loney poked a single to left. Running aggressively because the Padres were shifted, Walker made it to third with a headfirst slide, setting the stage.
Flores recorded his fifth career walk-off RBI — and his first since his memorable walk-off homer against the Nationals last July — all because Schimpf threw home. The decision surprised everyone.
At the crack of the bat, Collins thought he would watch a double play unfold, another rally-killing bit of failure. Flores ran hard but didn’t actually see Schimpf throw home, assuming he would simply start a double play.
Only the crowd’s reaction told Flores otherwise.
As he ran home, Walker admitted he was surprised to see the ball whiz past him and toward the backstop. But with the Mets scrounging for hope, he wasn’t going to question a rare slice of good fortune.
“We caught a little bit of a break there,” Walker said. “Hopefully, that will be kind of a catapult for us.”