Frank Howard had a saying in his 116-game tenure as Mets interim manager in 1983. It didn't pan out for him, but it seems operative for the 2015 Mets.
"You're going to to win 60 and lose 60,'' Howard said. "It's what you do in the other 40 that matters.''
Terry Collins said nearly the same about his 63-55 Mets. "It's crunch time, 44 to go,'' he said Sunday.
The Mets begin a two-game interleague series on the road against the Orioles Tuesday night. Jacob deGrom gets the start, with Noah Syndergaard scheduled for Wednesday night.
The Mets lead the NL East by 41/2 games over the Nationals but left Citi Field wobbling after a three-game sweep by the Pirates.
The weekend was a missed opportunity for the Mets as the Nationals were swept by the Giants and saw their losing streak extended to six games.
"Would we like to be 71/2 up? No doubt,'' Michael Cuddyer said. "We can only control going out there playing the game. Unfortunately, the Pirates took three from us. One thing this team has been is resilient after the quote unquote tough losses. We've been able to bounce back.''
Daniel Murphy added: "I'm not concerned with what the Nats do. We were frustrated we lost three games. It's a 4-3 homestand, so we had a chance to make it a lot sweeter, but it's still a 4-3 homestand."
Two of the home losses to the Pirates came in extra innings and the third was a messy 8-1 defeat. "We lost two tough games. [Sunday] it got ugly,'' Collins said. "That frustrates me a little bit. I won't look back to what might have been. You can't do it.''
The Orioles are a hot team and have re-entered the AL East race. After sweeping the A's in a four-game series, they trail the first-place Yankees by four games and have a half-game lead over the Angels in the battle for the second wild card.
DeGrom, who allowed one run and six hits and struck out nine in seven innings in a win over the Orioles in May at Citi Field, has been studying their lineup.
"I kind of remember what I did against them,'' he said. "I look at some video of what I did come up with and game plan from there. I'm looking forward to going.''
Collins believes pitchers have the advantage in interleague games, saying: "In my experience, hitters are uncomfortable facing pitchers where they don't have any idea of what their stuff's like. And all the reports and all the films you look at, it's not like getting in the batter's box, so I always think the pitchers will have a little bit of advantage in their league.''
DeGrom isn't certain the pitchers automatically gain the upper hand, saying of the opposing batters, "They haven't seen you as much, but I think it all depends on whether you make your pitches or not.''
Travis d'Arnaud said it should not matter to deGrom. "Jacob's always ready to pitch anywhere at any time,'' he said. "I think he's going to do just fine.''
Curtis Granderson is looking forward to playing at Camden Yards, where he hit well during his career in the American League with the Tigers and Yankees. "I don't keep any written notes or anything like that. It's more mental than anything,'' he said. "I just like the way it feels, the closeness of it the way it's set up, the playing surface. A combination of all those things.''
Notes & quotes: Yoenis Cespedes was 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs in his last game at Camden Yards for the Tigers before being traded to the Mets on July 31 . . . The Mets announced that their interleague game against the Yankees on Sept. 20 at Citi Field has been switched from the afternoon to an 8:08 start on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. The Mets said a limited number of tickets to all three Subway Series games at Citi Field are available at Mets.com.