Bronx breathes new life into Mets

NEW YORK -- The kids walk in with smiles.

They always do.

They're excited, sometimes too excited, the way Zack Wheeler was Tuesday. But they have energy, plenty of energy, enough that it can help lift an entire team.

We don't really know if that's what happened with the New York Mets over the past few days, but we do know that something happened. We know that a Mets team that was trending strongly downhill -- and actually for one night fell into last place -- has suddenly become the hot, fun team in town.

The Mets won again Tuesday, taking advantage of Yankee Stadium and, even more than that, taking advantage of the New York Yankees, picking up where they left off Monday in pounding out a 12-7 win in the second game of the Subway Series.

The series itself has helped lift them, the Mets believe. Playing in hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium has helped a lineup that was frustratingly stagnant just days ago. The Mets hit two more home runs Tuesday, giving them six in the two games at Yankee Stadium (and several of them would not have gone out at Citi Field).

But it feels like it's more than that, if only because everywhere you turn in the Mets' clubhouse, there's now a player who just arrived from Triple-A and is absolutely thrilled to finally be a major leaguer.

The new arrivals Tuesday were Rafael Montero, the kid who will make his big league debut Wednesday night at Citi Field against the Yankees, and Jacob deGrom, a kid who was called up to help the bullpen.

"They had a long flight [from Las Vegas], but you'd never know it," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "They're flying high."

So, once again, are the Mets.

No matter where they go from here, they've righted themselves from what looked last week like a possible bottom-is-falling-out collapse. They're back to .500, at 19-19, and doing well enough that they survived seeing their pitching staff issue 10 walks (six of them by Wheeler, in just 4 1/3 innings) Tuesday night.

"These two wins have by no means been well-rounded, but we'll take them," said David Wright, who just four days before was heard lamenting that "losing sucks."

Wright believes the additions to the roster have given the Mets a shot in the arm. He believes the Yankee Stadium-inflated offensive output will help, and that the enthusiasm from fans for the Subway Series contributed.

Most of all, he's just happy that things seem to have turned so quickly.

"Some of it's just baseball, and some of it's that roller-coaster ride we've been on through 38 games," he said. "You have to realize you're going to hit a bump in the road. But in years past, that would drag on for weeks, where you're losing series after series and you just can't right the ship."

Instead, the Mets ended their five-game losing streak with Sunday's big comeback win over the Philadelphia Phillies, followed that with the two Subway wins, and came out of Yankee Stadium feeling energized instead of depressed.

"[Monday] night helped us [Tuesday]," Collins said. "It was the feeling, 'We're going to score more runs, let's just hold them.' It adds a spirit in the dugout, that you can score when you need to."

Days ago, the Mets could barely score at all, certainly not when they needed to.

They knew they needed to change things. They knew they had to do it quickly.

Now they have.