Had the Mets lost on Wednesday and Thursday, they would have been effectively eliminated from postseason contention. On each night, the Mets fell into a multi-run deficit only to storm back to win, doing so Thursday on Brandon Nimmo's go-ahead ninth-inning homer to score a 10-6 victory over the Phillies.
And so the Mets remain not merely alive, but a legitimate threat to remain so into October. It won’t be easy; they still must pass at least three teams in the National League standings to make the playoffs, with only 10 games remaining to do so. And they don’t have any games left against the teams they can realistically catch.
But when they departed Citizens Bank Park early Friday morning, the Mets stood just 1 1/2 games out of an NL Wild Card spot.
They’ll take it.
“These guys are ready to play, and ready to play as long as we can,” manager Luis Rojas said. “That’s what we’re doing every day.”
Rojas leaned on the word “resilience,” which tends to be overused in baseball circles this time of year. But the Mets have embodied it, erasing a four-run deficit on Wednesday and a three-run hole the following night. Wednesday, Jacob deGrom lasted only two innings due to a minor injury. Thursday, Seth Lugo simply didn’t have it, allowing consecutive home runs -- all on fastballs -- to Bryce Harper, Alec Bohm and Didi Gregorius in the first.
The Phillies scored two more runs off Lugo in the second inning, dropping the Mets’ win probability to around 18 percent.
Which, they determined, is more than zero.
“The guys had two choices there: You either give up, or you keep fighting,” Nimmo said. “And the guys chose to keep fighting.”
In the sixth, the Mets tied the game on Nimmo’s two-run triple. In the ninth, they went ahead for good on Nimmo’s homer. Typically the owner of one of baseball’s fastest home run trots, Nimmo stared down his 387-foot shot for an uncharacteristic second or two, before reveling in it some more as his teammates scored three additional runs in the ninth.
“You visualize it in your head, and then when it comes to fruition in a big moment like that, yeah, I did take a second there,” Nimmo said, laughing. “Not normal me. But this was a different moment. I saw it going and I was just kind of like, ‘Oh my gosh. That just happened.’”
So here the Mets stand, at 23-27 with 10 games to play. It’s possible they could go 6-4 the rest of the way and make the playoffs. Realistically, they’ll need to go 7-3. To be assured of making it, they’ll probably have to finish 8-2 or better against a brutally tough schedule, playing six of their final 10 games against the first-place Rays and Braves. Even their final four contests will come against a dangerous Nationals team keen on playing spoiler.
The Mets know it. They understand they’ve made countless mistakes over the course of their first 50 games to put themselves into a situation where they need to be near-perfect down the stretch. Or maybe they don’t. The past two nights, the Mets received poor starts from their two best starters. They came back to win anyway thanks in large part to the strength of their long relief -- four effective innings on Wednesday from Michael Wacha, then six on Thursday from Erasmo Ramírez, Chasen Shreve and Jeurys Familia.
It’s an unsustainable formula, given the extent to which it’s taxed the Mets’ bullpen. But the Mets don’t have to sustain it much longer. Just another 10 days, another 10 games, to see if they can make this late push matter.
Dominic Smith compared the current team to the 1999 Mets, who had walk-off wins in two of their final three games to make up a two-game deficit in the NL Wild Card race, forcing a one-game playoff -- which they also won -- against the Reds. More recently, the Mets won 15 out of 16 during one late stretch last summer, only to fizzle in September.
Nobody knows which path the Mets will follow this year, but as Smith put it, “We know we’re right there.”
“All we have left to do is fight,” Nimmo added. “There’s no other choice.”