NEW YORK -- The Mets couldn't deny there was something extra, something sweeter about this win. Five in a row is great, but these last four carried additional meaning.
After taking all four games from the Yankees with Thursday's 3-1 win, completing the first season series sweep of a Subway Series in franchise history, the Mets acknowledged what this stretch meant.
"You're talking about the Yankees -- 27 World Series," said Marlon Byrd, whose second-inning homer would be sufficient for the victory. "I think they were one game out of first place. They're a tough team. They know how to play, so to come in here and show we can play against them was huge for us."
After sinking to 12 games below .500, the Mets have a newfound swagger as a result their five consecutive wins, including two at Citi Field against the Yankees and the latest two in the Bronx.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time in team history that the Mets have swept a season series of four or more games from any opponent.
Manager Terry Collins said from the start that this was a huge series for his team. He even emphasized it before the Mets' series finale -- and the first win in this streak, against the Braves on Sunday. And maybe, just maybe, four big games under the spotlight against the Yankees could fire up a team that had looked lost.
"I think it was huge because of what we were doing prior to this series, the way we were losing games and the direction our team was going -- just that feel that you had," catcher John Buck said.
The Mets received exceptional starting pitching and quality work from their bullpen, and a lineup that was struggling broke out for nine runs on Wednesday.
This team needed wins, period. Many of the players said victories against any opponent are what the Mets are looking for as they try to climb closer to .500. This week, though, the Mets looked like they found a new life and the Yankees looked like reality was setting in for a team composed of veteran castoffs and young fill-ins.
Mets third baseman David Wright said this series wasn't about proving anything, but it certainly gives the team confidence. And it helps fulfill the hopes of Mets fans.
"It gives our fans some bragging rights," Wright said. "I'm glad we're able to give them that, because the Mets fans that came over here to the Bronx and supported us, they were loud and it was good to hear."
Even some of the players will take advantage of the bragging rights. Buck laughed that he was going to rag on his friends Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay at least a little bit.
Going into the series, some of the Mets said the team may have simply needed a series like this, one that's the center of attention in New York and adds some intensity to a late-May set.
"I think as players, there's that factor, but it is just another game in the middle of the season," Buck said. "It's just the fact that we're in the greatest market for baseball, the greatest city for baseball. That's what makes it a bigger game."
And this season, it was the Mets who claimed these bigger games against the Yankees. It was the Mets who earned their fans bragging rights.
For the Mets themselves, though, it eases the struggles they were going through just about a week ago -- a little bit, at least.
"A big series like this in the Subway Series," Buck said, "I think helps overcome a lot the feelings we were going through prior to this series."
Chris Iseman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less