PHILADELPHIA — As the Mets returned to New York early Friday morning for their last homestand of the year, six games against the divisions-leading Braves and Rays, they could promise: These games will matter.
They ensured that by beating the Phillies, 10-6, on Thursday to sneak away with a series victory and keep their playoff hopes alive. The Mets’ wins came in starts by Jacob deGrom and Seth Lugo, even though they combined for 3 2/3 innings and nine runs.
"That’s a great team win," said Lugo, who allowed six runs in 1 2/3 innings, requiring the Mets make a major comeback. "That’s big time for us."
With 10 games to go, the Mets are 23-27. That is good enough for 1 1/2 games behind the Phillies for the last National League wild-card spot — and three games behind the Marlins for second place in the NL East, which would guarantee a postseason berth.
Facing the Braves and Rays, though, will be a huge test. Those teams combine for a .614 winning percentage, as opposed to the Phillies (24-25).
"We know we’re right there," said Dominic Smith (3-for-5, two RBIs, two runs).
Brandon Nimmo had a tiemaking two-run triple in the sixth, then a tiebreaking homer in the ninth. That was the start of a game-winning four-run rally that included Robinson Cano's two-run homer. Pete Alonso hit his team-leading 12th homer, a solo shot in the sixth.
As Nimmo’s no-doubter soared toward the stands in rightfield, he admired it as he actually walked several steps toward first base, as opposed to his usual sprint.
"Not normal me," Nimmo said with a laugh. "This was a different moment, and I just saw it going. I was kind of like, ‘Oh my gosh. That just happened.’ Then I came to again and [thought], ‘I better get around the bases.’ It was a pretty special moment."
A smiling Luis Rojas added: "I’m pretty sure that’s the slowest he’s come out of the box in his career. He had fun. It was a big hit."
A rollercoaster of a game early turned into a bullpen battle late after Lugo and the Phillies’ Aaron Nola (5 1/3 innings, five runs) departed. Five Mets relievers combined for 7 1/3 shutout innings. Edwin Diaz, pitching for a third day in a row, let the would-be tying run step to the plate, but induced a groundout from Andrew McCutchen to end it.
Lugo got five outs — and allowed four homers. Bryce Harper, Alec Bohm and Didi Gregorius went back-to-back-to-back in the first inning, erasing the Mets’ 3-0 lead. Harper added another, off the face of the third deck in rightfield, in the second.
The 10 batted balls against Lugo had an average hit speed of 102.4 mph, which is extremely high.
He said he had a "pretty good grasp" on what went wrong, though he did not identify the problem.
"It’s tough when it happens that fast in one inning," Lugo said. "And then trickles to the next inning."
Another comeback began shortly thereafter.
"The guys had two choices there, either give up or keep fighting," Nimmo said. "And they guys chose to keep fighting."
Three of those runs came early. Nimmo and Michael Conforto walked to lead off the game. Dominic Smith had an RBI double, Cano a two-run single for the early advantage.
Nola worked into and out of trouble for much of the rest of the night, though Pete Alonso tagged him for a homer in the sixth. His 12th of the year, which leads the Mets.