The ominous signs started appearing over the leftfield stands at Citi Field on Saturday in the seventh inning. Storm clouds were encroaching on the ballpark, threatening the timely completion of the Mets-Phillies game.
At about the same time, Tommy Joseph of the Phillies sent a 2-and-1 pitch from Fernando Salas toward those clouds. The long, high drive ended up way back in the leftfield stands, a three-run homer that snapped a tie and appeared to be sending the Mets to a disturbing defeat.
Instead, the Mets overcame the Phillies (not that hard) and their own mistakes (not that easy) for a 7-6 victory.
After Joseph’s home run, Mets fans booed the team as it came off the field before the seventh-inning stretch. Those fans had watched a lot of bad baseball from the Mets for 6 1⁄2 innings.
Those same fans were on their feet cheering before the bottom of the seventh ended. The Mets retook the lead with a four-run outburst that started with a solo home run by T.J. Rivera and ended with a go-ahead two-run shot by Asdrubal Cabrera on his bobblehead day.
The Mets, who have won seven of eight to improve to 38-42, keep talking about making a run. If you’re going to make a run, you need to first get to .500. And you need to not lose to the Phillies, who at 26-53 have the worst record in baseball. The Mets were able to do that, and that’s what matters most of all. Just win, baby, even if it’s not pretty.
“These are the games when you’ve got to say to yourself, ‘Hey, we’re not out of it,’ ” manager Terry Collins said. “We’ve been preaching that we have a good team and obviously we can’t use injuries as an excuse. Now we’re starting to get some pieces back and I think the guys say, ‘Hey, let’s put a couple hits on the board and we’ve got the ability to hit one over the fence.’ ”
When the rain did come, delaying the game for 57 minutes in the top of the eighth, the Mets had a one-run lead. Collins was not happy when the umpires ordered the tarp onto the field before the heavy stuff came.
“We’ve got two outs and we need to get one more hitter to get out of the inning,” Collins said. “It wasn’t raining very hard at the time. I got the explanation from the umpires that there was a storm moving in. Lightning. Winds. And as, amazingly, we see here often, it never came. I want a job as a meteorologist in this town.”
When play resumed, a pair of rainbows appeared behind Citi Field (symbolism alert). Many of the fans already were on the Grand Central, but those who remained watched the Mets hold on for a much-needed victory.
The Mets made three errors, one by Rivera and one by Zack Wheeler that led to two unearned runs in the fourth. Travis d’Arnaud also had a throwing error that helped the Phillies tie the score at 3 in the fifth after Lucas Duda gave the Mets the lead with a solo shot into the Home Run Apple.
Jose Reyes got picked off second and later was thrown out at third on a grounder to second. Wheeler lasted only 3 2⁄3 innings. It was shaping up as a frustrating day for the home team.
And then came the meatball Salas threw to Joseph and a 6-3 deficit. The Mets were nine outs away from losing.
The Mets’ final rally made Salas the winning pitcher. That’s baseball. After the storm comes the rainbow. Sometimes two.