"I don't want to ever challenge anyone's integrity, that's wrong," Collins said. "My players are professionals, and they didn't get here without being guys that played their hearts out all the time."
The 16-1 drudging marked the Mets' ninth consecutive loss at Citi Field and 16th straight home game in which they've scored three or fewer runs -- a franchise record. After the game, Collins didn't comment on whether he thought his team had quit on the season, only saying, "You'd have to ask them."
On Friday, Collins said his emotions boiled over after the loss when he ripped into his team for what he, at the time, perceived as a lack of effort, stating that it was only meant to invoke some motivation. Even after this sluggish second half -- New York entered Friday's series opener against the Marlins with a 20-43 post All-Star break record -- the skipper said he wants to silence any notion that his players have given up.
"There's a lot of guys playing for a lot of things in there -- be it contracts, be it jobs or just pride alone," Collins said. "But everybody plays for something, and I know they are. We just need to continue to battle through one of the worst times any of us have ever been through in the game."
Collins wanted to let his team know that, and in turn spoke individually to every player on Friday, stressing things like manager accountability and apologizing for his harsh words the previous night.
"I'm very proud of this team, the way they played all year," Collins said. "The one thing I will never, ever talk about is their effort. Their effort has always been there. ... The issue has been, as a manager, you sit here and you try to fix it, you try and figure out how to fix it. And you pull out all of your stops. No matter what you've done in the past, you try and find an answer, and when you don't have any answers, it's frustrating."
The Mets silenced a lot of critics with their play in the first half, but the second-half showing is more than just poor play. New York has sustained more than a handful of injuries this season, and just two members of its Opening Day rotation are still pitching.
But despite all of it, Collins said there is nothing that can totally excuse how the Mets have played in the second half, especially in front of their home fans.
"I believe in accountability that starts with me, and I want them to know that I'll be the first guy to stand up and be held accountable for what's gone on here," Collins said. "But I want them to know that we set the bar high, we set our expectations high and we're not living up to them."