Mets finally awaken at the plate

MIAMI -- About the only downside to the Mets’ 11-5 win against the Miami Marlins on Sunday was the players’ arms getting tired from waving towels in the dugout after each Mets hit.

The Mets finished off a series win by pounding out a season-high-matching 17 hits at Marlins Park on Sunday.

“We’ve been waiting a long time to break one open,” Terry Collins said. “We’ve been put in a lot of situations where one hit breaks the whole game open. We haven’t had it. Today we got it.”

Said David Wright, marveling at the growing phenomenon of Mets players waving towels to celebrate favorable game occurrences: “[Even] the bullpen is doing it now. I guess every team needs some sort of gimmick now. And I guess that’s ours.”

The criteria for what merits towel-waving?

“I don’t know,” said Wright, who is just following the lead of Curtis Granderson, who initiated it. “Guys just start doing it. I’m not exactly sure for what. Maybe good things.”

Jonathon Niese earned his first win in exactly a month because he finally got some run support. In his previous five starts -- four no-decisions and a walk -- the Mets averaged 2.6 runs per game.

“We kind of hit them hard and hit them early,” Niese said. “It was good. It’s a lot more comfortable going out there being able to pound the zone and execute pitches when you’ve got a big lead.”

Before the Mets grabbed a 7-0 lead on Daniel Murphy’s three-run homer in the fourth against Jersey native Anthony DeSclafani, Collins got aggressive trying to manufacture a run.

Once Anthony Recker’s sacrifice fly opened the scoring in the second inning, the Mets had runners on the corners with one out. The No. 8 batter Niese was due up, and Collins called for a suicide squeeze. Kirk Nieuwenhuis broke for home. He would have been out had Niese not successfully laid down a bunt to the first-base side.

“Luckily I was able to get a pitch that I could put down,” Niese said.

Said Nieuwenhuis, who had been unable to score on Friday on a deep fly ball to left fielder Marcell Ozuna, yet managed to score on a bunt Sunday: “It’s kind of fun. I’m just hoping he gets it down.”

Collins, trying to remember the last time he had called for a suicide squeeze, joked: “’06, probably.”

He was the director of player development for the Los Angeles Dodgers that year.

“We don’t do that much,” the manager said. “I didn’t want to just sacrifice [the trail runner to second base]. … That’s why Jon hits eighth, the same as Jake [deGrom]. They handle the bat fine. I’m not concerned that they’re not going to put the ball in play. We tried something different.”

It certainly was a light atmosphere Sunday, with the Mets now having won four of five.

After Murphy homered, he jokingly was threatening to slap third-base coach Tim Teufel in the face the next time, and shouted as much from the dugout to Teufel.

Seven different Mets had multi-hit performances in the same game for the first time since last August against the Minnesota Twins.

That included Granderson, who went 3-for-5 with a double, walk and two runs scored in the leadoff spot.

In five starts in the leadoff spot this season, Granderson now has reached base in 11 of 23 plate appearances, for a .478 on-base percentage.

Collins likes Granderson in that spot, too. Still, the manager is unlikely to bat Granderson first against the Oakland Athletics next series, since the Mets will face left-handers Scott Kazmir and Brad Mills.

Niese, the beneficiary of Sunday’s offensive outburst, ought to have been treated better in a three-run sixth against him. Granderson misplayed a leadoff fly ball into a double. Murphy failed to field a makeable play with two outs, resulting in a run-scoring single. Essentially, the Mets gave the Marlins five outs that inning.

“His line probably should have been a lot better than it was because of a few plays defensively we probably should have made,” Wright said. “But he’s been doing an excellent job just throwing strikes, keeping his pitch count down. Every time he takes the ball you think he’s going to go nine innings. Offensively, we haven’t done a lot to pick him up and give him a lot of run support. I’m glad we were able to do that today.”