Depth can cure a host of problems that might suddenly confront a baseball team, such as an injury to a starter or a so-so outing by an ace.
Consider the Mets, 9-4 winners Wednesday night over the Phillies, despite Daniel Murphy's early departure with a quadriceps injury and Matt Harvey's most difficult start since June, in which he battled what the team later called fatigue and dehydration.
"He'll be ready for his next start,'' Terry Collins said of Harvey, whose next outing will come against the Nationals. "That's what counts.''
On a night in which the Mets took a 6-0 lead, then allowed the Phillies to claw back within three, the outcome never seemed to be in doubt. The Mets banged out 16 hits, including one for every member of the starting lineup. Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes homered.
Ruben Tejada, the Mets' shortstop and No. 8 hitter, collected four RBIs, including a two-run, inside-the-park homer.
Tejada jumpstarted the Mets, highlighting a three-run second inning with his inside-the-park homer. When Tejada rifled a liner down the line, Phillies rightfielder Domonic Brown whiffed on his attempt to backhand the ball. Momentum carried him to the side wall -- and then over it.
"I'm thinking hit, first,'' said Tejada, who became the first Met to hit an inside-the-park homer since Angel Pagan on May 19, 2010. "Then when I saw him in the stands, I ran as hard as I could.''
One night after absorbing a 14-8 shellacking, the Mets cruised to their ninth consecutive series victory against the lowly Phillies, the longest such streak in franchise history. Once more, they displayed the ability to bounce back.
"It's a big trait for us to have as we get into the last month,'' said Collins, whose team maintained its 61/2-game lead over the Nationals.
Through three innings, the Mets led 6-0, then watched as the Phillies chipped away to close within 7-4 in the seventh against Harvey. The righthander faded after a strong beginning on a humid, hazy night. He allowed four runs and nine hits in 61/3 innings.
Though he struck out nine, Harvey allowed at least four earned runs for the first time since June 10.
He did not speak with reporters after the game, although a source confirmed that the team expects him to start Tuesday.
Murphy left in the fourth as a precaution for what the team called "mild discomfort'' in his left quadriceps muscle. After the game, he acknowledged that the soreness likely is related to the injury that sidelined him for much of June.
"I felt like it was probably wise to get out of there,'' said Murphy, who will remain in New York to be examined Thursday as the team spends its off day in Miami. Murphy has been playing through quad issues, but his latest flare-up isn't considered serious.
Murphy said he has been dealing with the quad off and on since returning from the DL in late June. But when he felt soreness Wednesday night, he asked out of the game with the Mets leading big and Harvey on the mound.
Even if Murphy misses time, the Mets' depth has left them better prepared to deal with his absence.
Said Collins: "We're lucky because of the pieces that we have.''
For one night anyway, Murphy's injury and Harvey's ineffectiveness hardly made a dent.
Notes & quotes:Lucas Duda (back) has begun taking swings at the team's Florida complex, Collins said, although a return date remains unclear.
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