Maybe it was the fall chill in the air.
Or maybe it was those black jerseys, so reminiscent of the outstanding teams of the late ’90s and early 2000s.
Or it could have been the fact that the Mets were playing the Yankees — something that, even after all this time, lends itself to a buzzing atmosphere in which great (or at least strange) things just seem inevitable.
No matter what it was, there was something different about this team, the one that scored at will and in so many different ways — the one with the spark and spunk.
On this night, the Mets looked like a playoff team.
In the grand scheme of things, one game — even a 10-3 win over their crosstown rivals at Citi Field — can only do so much, and mathematically, the Mets’ playoff probability still is very slim (about 4% going into the game, according to FiveThirtyEight). But if they’re even going to have a prayer, games like Friday night’s need to become the norm.
Tylor Megill got into some early trouble but settled in to retire 11 of 12 at one point. The Mets capitalized on the Yankees’ many mistakes, stayed aggressive no matter how big the lead got, played small ball and very big ball — Francisco Lindor hit his 14th homer in the fourth — and generally looked like a team not quite ready to quit.
"We just came from a tough series in Miami, a tough road trip overall [and] a couple of games we should have won and not winning them, and showing up tonight and playing this kind of baseball, it says a lot about this group," Luis Rojas said. "I couldn’t be any more proud of these guys."
The Mets scored five runs in the third and the top four hitters in the lineup combined to go 5-for-9 with three walks and seven runs in the first four innings. Megill had a career-high 10 strikeouts in a career-high seven innings, allowing two runs, four hits and a walk.
The Mets remained five games behind NL East-leading Atlanta and moved within a half-game of Philadelphia.
"It’s exciting," Megill said. "The energy definitely felt different from a lot of games. Knowing it was Yankees-Mets going into today, I had a really good feeling, and the energy with the crowd, it was fun. I had a really good time. I had a blast.’’
Brett Gardner’s triple and Aaron Judge’s RBI groundout in the first got the Yankees on the board, but the Mets got it back just as quickly, thanks to an unintentional assist by Gary Sanchez.
Jonathan Villar and Michael Conforto singled and with two outs, Javier Baez lined a sharp single to left. Gary DiSarcina made what looked like an ill-advised decision to wave Villar home as Joey Gallo fired a bullet to Sanchez. Villar was out by 15 feet, but thanks to poor footwork and an even poorer tag by Sanchez, the Mets tied it at 1-1 — but only after Ted Barrett’s out call was overturned by replay.
Gallo homered in the second to put the Yankees up 2-1, but it was the last lead they’d enjoy.
In the third, Jordan Montgomery allowed a leadoff single by Villar and three straight walks to tie it at 2-2, and the inning got only weirder from there.
With the bases loaded, Baez hit a grounder to Gio Urshela’s left for what looked to be a sure forceout and possibly even a double play, but Urshela threw the ball wide of Sanchez to make it 3-2. Jeff McNeil then laid down a perfect drag bunt for a single that put the Mets up 4-3 — a play, Rojas said, reminiscent of when McNeil was in Class A and didn’t have the power to drive the ball.
Kevin Pillar hit a sacrifice fly and James McCann’s two-out RBI double put the Mets up 6-2. They kept building from there.
They’ve got to build a whole lot more, though, to accomplish what they need to accomplish in such a short period.
"Every win counts here," Lindor said. "Every win is huge in September. We have to go out day in and day out and we have to give our best — whatever it takes, whatever it takes to play in that cold weather in October."
They hope a slightly chilly September night can be a start.
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