Travis d'Arnaud saves the day

NEW YORK -- For the most part, Travis d'Arnaud had cleaned himself up after Sunday's game, but there was still proof he had just been the hero.

The whipped cream was still smeared into the collar of his shirt, and he still had speckles of it on his face and in his hair. There was no doubt who had received the celebratory pie to the face after the Mets' 1-0 win in 12 innings over the Marlins.

"That was pretty fun, for sure," D'Arnaud said.

The prized rookie catcher collected his first career walk-off hit as his RBI single propelled the Mets over the Marlins on Sunday afternoon at Citi Field. D'Arnaud said that hit was the first walk-off hit he's ever had in his career spanning all levels.

"It's big," D'Arnaud said. "Extra-innings game, bases loaded, and to get that hit is an indescribable feeling."

D'Arnaud, the main prospect the team acquired from Toronto in the offseason trade of R.A. Dickey, had struggled since taking over the everyday duties behind the plate in mid-August. He entered Sunday's game just 11-for-72 and was struggling to get on base.

He started Sunday's game 0-for-3 before singling in the 11th inning. In the 12th, with the teams scoreless, he came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. The Mets had loaded the bases with no outs but came up empty in the previous two at-bats, leaving it to d'Arnaud to save them.

On a 1-1 pitch, he hit a 95 mph sinker from Ryan Webb up the middle, and the ball got through the middle for the winning hit. D'Arnaud was mobbed between first and second base by his teammates before getting the pie to the face.

Mets manager Terry Collins said he hopes this hit gets d'Arnaud rolling at the plate. D'Arnaud finished 2-for-5 and collected his fourth career RBI with the walk-off single.

"He came with a huge reputation of being an outstanding hitter and has really struggled. This has got to help him," Collins said. "This has got to loosen him up and help him be the kind of guy everybody says he can be. We're so impressed with him defensively. We got to get it offensively, and I think today's a big start for him."

He added: "He's going to hit. We know that."

As he struggled at the plate, d'Arnaud kept a positive outlook, working hard with hitting coach Dave Hudgens to try to find his stroke. Collins noted how he never saw d'Arnaud's demeanor change despite him not producing through his first month in the majors. He called d'Arnaud a good student of the game, pointing out how the youngster had watched David Wright work in the cage.

D'Arnaud praised his teammates for being in his corner throughout his struggles, and recalled a bit of advice they gave him that ultimately came true Sunday.

"Fortunately for me my team's been there and had my back and told me to keep grinding and they'll start falling," D'Arnaud said. "Today, that's what happened."