NEW YORK -- As he removed Jon Niese from Saturday's game, Terry Collins saw the fire and passion he wants from his team.
His starting pitcher didn't want to exit, preferring to stay in to throw one more pitch or face one more batter. That, Collins would say after the Mets lost 5-2 to the Cubs, is an example of what builds a winning club.
New York Mets
"Jon Niese didn't have his good stuff today. He battled through six innings. He didn't want to come out of the game. That's what I want," a fired-up Collins said. "I want guys who don't want to come out of the game. I want guys that say, 'I care enough, as much as you do, that I want to stay in the game.' We get more guys like that, we'll win more baseball games."
The Mets are searching to find a galvanizing force to turn this season around after losing for the 10th time in 12 games Saturday, falling to the Cubs at Citi Field. After their third straight loss, the Mets are a season-low 15 games under .500 and are on pace to lose 100 games.
"Guys need to dig down deep and go one of two ways," Mets third baseman David Wright said. "Either just go through the motions and play things out or get motivated by whatever means necessary and finish this thing strong. A lot of these guys are going to be part of the future."
Since sweeping the Yankees in May, the Mets have gone into a free fall. They've won just twice in June and have gone 0-7 against a pair of poor teams in Chicago and Miami. On Saturday, they couldn't get it done offensively, failing four times in the eighth and ninth with the tying run at the plate. They've scored just six runs in their past three games and just 37 in 11 games in June.
New York Mets
"You look up in the eighth inning, we have two stinking hits. Two!" Collins said. "Those are issues. Even our outs, as I've said before, once in a while you have to have some productive outs. Move people along. Try to get guys in scoring position. I know we're not driving in runs but still got to go up there with a game plan. 'Look, I'm going to get somebody over; I'm going to get somebody in.' We're not doing that."
Both Wright and Collins said they don't believe the team's issues stem from a lack of effort. Collins said he hasn't seen any player stop hustling or slack in his pregame routine. He worries, though, that losing is becoming too commonplace. Even Wright admitted these aren't the happiest of days in Flushing.
"These postgame questions, I'm starting to not have anything really new to say. It's a lot of the same issues, day after day, and that's something I say we have to correct because nobody's having any fun right now," Wright said. "It's not fun to come to the park and lose and lose in the fashion that we're losing."