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SportsColumnistsAnthony Rieber

That tingly playoff atmosphere can't be denied by Mets or their fans

New York Mets third base coach Tim Teufel

New York Mets third base coach Tim Teufel congratulates Mets leftfielder Michael Conforto on his two-run home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the seventh inning of a baseball game at Citi Field on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Man, the playoffs at Citi Field are going to be fun.

Playoffs???!! Playoffs???!!

That's right, Jim Mora. We said playoffs.

Now, this isn't a guarantee that the Mets are going to reach the postseason. Their chances look good, even after Saturday night's 5-3, 14-inning loss to the Pirates. They still lead the second-place Nationals by 41/2 games in the NL East, thanks to Washington's 12-6 loss in San Francisco.

The Mets, who have dropped consecutive extra-inning games to Pittsburgh, are trying to end a measly eight-year postseason drought. The Pirates ended a 20-year drought in 2013 and liked it so much that they went back last season.

The Mets came back from a 3-0 deficit in the seventh on home runs by Juan Uribe and rookie Michael Conforto. But Pittsburgh went ahead in the 14th after a defensive blunder by fill-in first baseman Daniel Murphy, who failed to get Francisco Cervelli at third base on a high chopper with the score still tied.

"I took a shot," Murphy said. "It was the wrong play."

At least it helped allow singer Ne-Yo -- who was waiting to begin his postgame concert -- to finally emerge from the green room.

The last two games, and many of the Mets' recent ones at home, have featured a playoff-like atmosphere. But playoff-like is not the playoffs. Get ready for the Citi Field crowd to blow the (non-existent) roof off the place if the Mets make it.

One guy who won't talk about the playoffs is Terry Collins. Understandably. Collins has managed 1,643 major-league games and has never reached the postseason. He's not going to spike the football until the Mets are in the end zone and there are no flags on the ground.

"Got a long way to go," Collins said. "Got to worry about beating these guys right now. I don't even think about the month of October except for the last three games of the season against the Nationals."

Ah, the Nationals. Everyone's preseason pick to win the NL East, maybe the World Series, has lost five in a row, has fallen to 58-58 and is 10-19 since the All-Star break. The Mets are 16-12 in that span.

So as much as the Mets' resurgence has been about their own play, the Nationals have helped with their underachieving ways for underwhelming manager Matt Williams.

"I think they're very, very talented," Collins said. "They've got track records that they can get it done. And the team's got a track record that they can win . . . I know and I feel that they're going to start playing the way they can."

Until then, the Mets can afford to drop a few. On Saturday night, the crowd of 38,878 went bonkers when Uribe went deep to lead off the seventh and again when Conforto tied it.

When Wilmer Flores hit one in front of the warning track in left in the 11th, everyone jumped up, expecting a walk-off home run for the folk hero.

But it was not to be, and some measure of disappointment set in when the game ended.

"It's heartbreaking," starter Jon Niese said. He didn't look heartbroken.

The Mets know they still control their own destiny. It's OK if Collins in a private moment fantasizes about a Matt Harvey-Clayton Kershaw matchup in Game 1 of the NLDS at a sold-out Citi Field.

Just don't ask him to admit it.

"I've learned that you can't look very far forward," Collins said. "What's coming up here in the next two or three days . . . We've got Monday off. What's the Baltimore series going to look like? Who are we seeing in Colorado? That's about as far as I go."

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