SAN FRANCISCO - They've been snowed out, rained out, wiped out and knocked out. And while the statistic isn't official, they lead the league in unscheduled red-eye flights, thanks to their propensity for working overtime.
For some members of these marathon Mets, there has been little rest and plenty of extra innings.
"It's been a rough stretch," said shortstop Omar Quintanilla, who has played in all but one game since joining the Mets on May 30.
Quintanilla is one of a group of new faces who have rejuvenated the Mets at a time when they should be most worn down. They are 5-1 on their nine-game road trip and have won four in a row. In their last 25 games, they have gone 16-9 to move to 40-48. Coming off their final off day of the first half, the Mets will begin a three-game series Friday night against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.
The Mets' massive improvement in the last 25 games coincides roughly with a series of moves that effectively turned over the roster. It hasn't mattered that on some nights, their lineup has been composed primarily of guys who started the year as Las Vegas 51s.
"We've gotten some big hits and we've gotten some big plays from a lot of people," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "And we called some guys up from the minor leagues. I think sending Ike [Davis] down got some people's attention. I certainly think there's been a different atmosphere in the clubhouse."
The addition of Eric Young Jr. via a trade with the Rockies has given the Mets their first true leadoff presence since Jose Reyes left town two years ago. Young, who is hitting .290 with the Mets, has filled the void left by an injury to starting leftfielder Lucas Duda.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Juan Lagares have made up for spotty offensive production with strong defense in the outfield. And with his ability to hit lefthanded pitching, Josh Satin has made a bid for more playing time, even with the return of Davis from his temporary exile at Triple-A Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, Quintanilla has bailed the Mets out after replacing the underachieving Ruben Tejada, who went down with an injury and has remained in the minors even though he is healthy. Even by hitting .246 with steady defense at short, he has emerged as an upgrade over Tejada.
"They went down to Triple-A and again, they didn't mope," Collins said of the group that has helped the Mets perk up before the All-Star break. "They went out and played. They got themselves back. You salute that. Like I said before, they saw this opportunity, they saw guys struggling and they said, 'Hey, there's jobs here. I think I'll win one.' "
Perhaps more remarkable is how the Mets have endured despite freakishly bad luck with extra-inning games. By playing four games of at least 15 innings -- they're 1-3 in those games -- the Mets have matched a franchise record set in 1968. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Mets are the first big-league team in history to play four 15-inning games before the All-Star break.
"It does feel like it," said Quintanilla, who has played virtually every day because injuries have left him as the only major league-quality shortstop on the roster. "But I'm not up to a point where I need to ask for a day off or I'll say I can't play today. I'm tired, but I know I can get through it."
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