MIAMI — The horrors of Hollywood far behind them, and perhaps a grinning Big Sexy to look forward to? Yes, things indeed could be trending upward for these Mets, who rode six solid innings from Seth Lugo to Thursday night’s 6-3 victory over the Marlins, a feel-good win that closed out a 10-game road trip that seemed 10 times as long.
As a reunion with Bartolo Colon potentially looms on the horizon — thanks to the Braves’ decision to designate the former Met for assignment Thursday — Lugo is doing what he can to make people forget about the small UCL tear inside his right elbow. He allowed only two earned runs in those six innings, one a laser-shot homer by Giancarlo Stanton, as the Mets earned their fifth victory in six games after the Dodgers’ demoralizing sweep in L.A.
Now the Mets return to Citi Field for a three-game home stand against the weakling Phillies, and maybe, just maybe, the chance to dream of a long-shot revival.
“I don’t know if our fortunes have changed,” said Jay Bruce, who had two hits and a pair of RBIs. “We still have a lot of work to do. You can’t keep looking at the teams in front of you and you can’t keep thinking about the past. We’ve just got to keep playing.”
T.J. Rivera, who started at first base for the ill Lucas Duda, had three hits and two RBIs. Jerry Blevins and Josh Edgin each provided a scoreless inning of relief before Addison Reed struck out two in the ninth for his 12th save.
“We know we’re in a tough situation,” Rivera said. “We just have to go game-by-game and keep competing.”
If the Mets are going to muster any flicker of life in the coming weeks, the battered rotation is going to have to lean on pitchers such as the revitalized Lugo, who has been effective after missing the first two months with his elbow issue. Lugo is 3-1 with a 3.55 ERA and has pitched at least six innings in three of the four starts since his June 11 return.
“He moves the ball all over the place,” Terry Collins said, “so he’s tough to figure out.”
Lugo retired nine of the first 10 Marlins before Stanton opened the fourth with a thunderous drive that caromed off the leftfield scoreboard. Miami added a run in the sixth when Rene Rivera’s glove (and the ball) got scissor-kicked out of his left hand by Stanton as he scored. Another run scored on a wild pitch.
Heading into the final stretch of the trip, the Miami visit got off to a terrible start when Robert Gsellman was forced from Tuesday night’s 6-3 loss in the fourth inning because of a hamstring strain that put him on the disabled list. But Steven Matz followed with seven innings in Wednesday night’s 8-0 rout, and then it was down to Lugo, a true road warrior who entered Thursday night’s series finale 5-1 with a 2.91 ERA in 10 career appearances (six starts) away from Flushing.
The Mets who backed Lugo must have reminded him more of Triple-A Las Vegas, with T.J. Rivera at first base and Matt Reynolds — called up Wednesday to replace Gsellman — at third. No matter. Just as they had done the previous night with Matz, the Mets staked Lugo to an early lead and kept tacking on runs.
Curtis Granderson again sparked a first-inning rally, this time with a leadoff double that upped him to 13-for-32 (.406) on the trip. Two outs later, Bruce delivered an RBI single and T.J. Rivera added a run-scoring double.
In the third, Granderson reached on a replay-backed safe call on a throwing error, Yoenis Cespedes had an infield hit and Bruce added a bloop RBI double to leftfield. T.J. Rivera added an RBI single and Jose Reyes had a sacrifice fly as the Mets took a 5-0 lead.
After the gloom-and-doom sweep at Chavez Ravine, heading home with a 5-5 trip felt much better than .500. It represented at least a glimmer of hope.
“They didn’t just pack up,” Collins said. “They showed up and played hard. We’ll take it.”