"We talked on the plane the other night about his left-handed stroke, but it's amazing how he hits Josh Johnson," Collins said. "It's just one of those things, not many people do, he does. And he showed again today. He put some very good swings on him."
The six-run offensive outburst after the Mets had mustered just two earned runs in the first two games of the series against Miami -- both losses -- was enough to back Dickey, who had another stellar performance for his 15th win of the season, which tied him with the Angels' Jered Weaver for the most in the Majors.
The knuckleballer tossed his National League-best fourth complete game of the season and allowed just one run while striking out 10 for his sixth double-digit strikeout game of the year.
On the plane ride home from the team's West Coast road trip last week, Torres and Collins talked about the center fielder's hitting mechanics. The two discussed how Torres should try and get back to pulling the ball more to right field when he's batting from the left side of the plate, instead of trying to slap the ball the opposite way.
In 2010, Torres felt he was the kind of hitter who could pull balls out of the park, but since then -- and especially this season -- he's struggled to get his bat head in front of pitches and drive the ball deep.
On Thursday, he fixed his mechanics. After adding an RBI double to right field earlier in the game, Torres sent Johnson's 2-1, two-out pitch just left of the right-field foul pole for his second home run of the year -- his first ever at Citi Field -- and he nearly missed a long ball to the same spot in the eighth inning. That ball was ruled an RBI triple after a minute-and-a-half review from the umpires on whether the ball hit the top of the orange line on the wall.
"It was tough to say," Torres said. "I know it hit the orange on top, but I couldn't tell. I just saw the ball come back. I just tried to hit the ball as hard as I can."
The switch-hitting Torres had been struggling from the left side of the plate this season partly due to a finger injury that had contributed to his .183 average against right-handed pitching. For that reason, Collins dropped Torres to seventh in the starting lineup against Johnson.
As for Dickey, one of the key parts of his day at Citi Field was halting former New York shortstop Jose Reyes' career-high hit streak at 26, the longest in history for a former Met. And while Reyes' streak came to a close, current Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada continued his own career-high streak with a 2-for-4 day, extending his run to 14 straight games with a hit.
"It is what it is. I went 0-for-4 today, I've got to give some credit to Dickey," Reyes said. "I'll try to start a new one tomorrow."
"Hopefully we can capitalize on some things we did good today, and realize some things we've been doing poorly in the past and grow out of that," Dickey said.
Scoring with runners on base is certainly one of those things, as the Mets stranded 10 on Wednesday night, but went 4-of-13 in those circumstances on Thursday.
Johnson got himself in trouble in the second inning when he allowed runners to reach first and second base with one out and Josh Thole coming to the plate. The catcher sent a single into left, scoring Ike Davis to put the Mets up 1-0, but Dickey grounded back to the mound in the next at-bat to end the threat.
After the Marlins knotted up the game at 1 on Justin Ruggiano's home run in the top of the fourth, Torres came through with his RBI double with David Wright on second, breaking the tie and giving the Mets a lead they would never relinquish. The double raised Torres' average with runners in scoring position and two outs to .400, and he now has 15 RBIs in such situations.
Torres' home run came after 69 games and 205 at-bats without one. It was the first home run in his home ballpark since June 24, 2011, when he was a member of the San Francisco Giants, but he's hoping the adjustments he's made to his mechanics will help him become more of a power threat from the left side of the plate.
Collins hopes so too. Thursday's game reminded the Mets manager of how his team was playing at the end of the first half, and he expects the offense to continue.
"If that swing's back, we're going to score a lot more runs," Collins said. "He's going to be hitting in a different spot in the order."