Morning Briefing: Third place at break?


FIRST PITCH: Don’t look now, but a win on the final day of the first half would leapfrog the Mets over the Miami Marlins and put the Amazin’s in sole possession of third place for the first time since May 4.

Jacob deGrom (2-5, 3.38 ERA) opposes left-hander Brad Hand (0-1, 5.09) in Sunday’s 1:10 p.m. series finale as the Mets aim to sweep Miami.

Terry Collins plans to give Daniel Murphy off Sunday ahead of his busy All-Star break, with Eric Campbell likely to appear at second base for the first time in his major league career.

Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, right-hander Noah Syndergaard and catcher Kevin Plawecki will compete in the Futures Game at 5 p.m. ET at Target Field.

Sunday’s news reports:

Chris Young had a pinch-hit two-run homer in the seventh and Campbell had a tiebreaking pinch-hit RBI single an inning later as the Mets twice overcame two-run deficits to beat the Marlins, 5-4, Saturday at Citi Field. Murphy had a leaping two-out catch in the eighth to prevent the Marlins from taking a lead. Daisuke Matsuzaka had a career-high-matching 10 strikeouts.

Collins said the victory may be the biggest for the Mets so far this season.

The Mets have won seven of nine of their current homestand. With wins by division co-leaders Atlanta and Washington on Saturday, the Mets remained seven games back in the NL East.

Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record, Times and at MLB.com.

• Although Matsuzaka is expected to shift to the bullpen with Jonathon Niese poised to return from the disabled list, Collins said he needs to discuss with Sandy Alderson on Sunday whether there ought to be the intermediate step of putting deGrom in the bullpen for a week or two to conserve the rookie’s innings. Alderson has said deGrom should have 185 innings in 2014. Read more in Newsday.

• Although it has not been fully announced, a source tells ESPNNewYork.com that the second-half-opening series in San Diego should be Bartolo Colon on Friday, Dillon Gee on Saturday and Zack Wheeler in the finale. That pushes Niese to the opener in Seattle, where he can deal with lefty-hitting slugger Robinson Cano.

Niese is scheduled to throw at Citi Field before Sunday’s game against the Marlins to demonstrate he is fine to return from the DL in Seattle.

Matt Harvey continues to be more and more resigned to the fact he will not pitch in the majors in 2014. Read more in the Post.

Jeremy Hefner had a perfect inning in the Gulf Coast League in his first game since undergoing Tommy John surgery last Aug. 28. Taylor Teagarden (hamstring) also began a rehab assignment in that game. He only had two plate appearances as a DH before departing for a pinch runner.

• Marc Carig in Newsday profiles the All-Star-bound Murphy. Writes Carig:

Daniel Murphy is the antithesis of a star.

There is no grace in his game. There is no flash. There is no sense of ease. His value stems entirely from function, not aesthetics, and because of this, he knew long ago that his only way to the major leagues involved walking a fine line.

"I've always felt that at the point that I don't play the game with my hair on fire, I'm just not physically gifted enough to continue playing at this level," Murphy said. "So that's how I've always approached it."

• Steve Serby in the Post has a Q&A with Murphy.

• Jayce Boyd homered and had three RBIs as Binghamton beat Erie, 9-3. L.J. Mazzilli doubled and scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 10th as St. Lucie beat Lakeland, 5-4. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post compares LeBron James’ departure and return to Cleveland with the Mets’ trade and reacquisition of Tom Seaver.

• Laura Albanese in Newsday profiles Triple-A All-Star Allan Dykstra, who is not related to Lenny Dykstra.

• Stony Brook University product and new dad Tom Koehler discusses his no-decision Saturday with Mike Gavin in Newsday.

From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear revels in what it believes is the most scintillating Mets win of the year.

BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets catcher Mike Fitzgerald was born on this date in 1960.


YOU’RE UP: Can Jeremy Hefner be useful for the Mets later this season?