Seventy-two hours earlier, the Mets had been five games into a losing streak, with their manager seemingly on the brink of unemployment, their general manager addressing reporters while the chief operating officer looked on grimly, arms folded, and their highest-paid player suffering from a mysterious ankle fracture.
The word “circus” came up more than once among journalists and fans observing the show.
But now it was 3 p.m. on Thursday, and a modest crowd at Citi Field was on its collective feet, cheering for a final out from closer Edwin Diaz, and some in the audience yelled, “Sweep! Sweep! Sweep!”
So it came to pass, a come-from-behind, 6-4 victory over the Nationals that gave the recently beleaguered, injury-depleted, oblivion-defying Mets four consecutive victories over Washington and a return to within one game of .500.
The winner was a three-run home run by Carlos Gomez, whose last homer as a Met had been hit on June 25, 2007. That’s not a typo. The first iPhone came out four days later. Pete Alonso was 12 years old at the time.
Gomez thus became the second fill-in outfielder in less than 24 hours to hit a three-run, eighth-inning home run after having been in the lineup for the Triple-A Syracuse Mets just last week. The other was Rajai Davis on Wednesday night.
The star of the day said he was not prepared to hit when he entered the batter’s box, having watched the Nationals intentionally walk Wilson Ramos ahead of him. He said he usually likes to swing a bat weighted with a doughnut while in the on-deck circle, and to take a deep breath.
“I no breathe, and I no put on the doughnut,” he said, smiling.
It turned out to be no problem, as the Mets recovered from coughing up a 3-1 lead when Robert Gsellman gave up three runs in the top of the eighth.
“We just hang in there,” Long Island’s own Steven Matz said after a strange start in which he allowed 10 hits in six innings but continually wriggled out of trouble and gave up only one run. “It’s just been awesome.”
None of this means the Mets have salvaged a season that seemed to be on the brink Sunday night. The Nationals have even more problems than they do, including a profoundly awful bullpen.
And the injuries continue to mount, with the news before the game that Robinson Cano and Jeff McNeil had been put on the injured list.
But the out-of-nowhere sweep at least bought some time and stability for manager Mickey Callaway and his players, who for now would do well to hang around and at least stay relevant into summer.
Hey, you never know. The sainted, 50th anniversary, 1969 Mets were 18-21 on May 24.
OK, sorry. One day at a time.
“We always focus on today; we don’t worry about forward,” Callaway said in a raspy voice he lost yelling during what he called a “crazy game.” “We’re just living in the moment and trying to take advantage of what we can.”
Callaway credited GM Brodie Van Wagenen with adding depth during the offseason, which now is paying off.
Closer Edwin Diaz said through a translator, “The clubhouse never was down at any point.”
Maybe. But Thursday their mood surely was headed upward. “We’re rolling right now,” Matz said.
The Mets last won three consecutive games in their final at-bat in 2013, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, so that was fun.
And they added a little history, too. They last swept the Nationals/Expos franchise in a four-games series at home in May 1972, before Van Wagenen, Callaway or any current player was born.
Now they all at least have some life again.