CINCINNATI -- Who needs sleep?
Using a lineup that included several backups because the team arrived at its Cincinnati hotel at about 3:30 a.m. ET, the New York Mets nonetheless beat the Reds 5-0 in a Labor Day matinee at Great American Ball Park.
The Mets (72-66) are one game behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the race for the National League’s second wild-card spot.
Manager Terry Collins also had resolved not to use setup man Addison Reed or closer Jeurys Familia, who closed out what Collins described as a “huge” rubber-game win against the Washington Nationals in New York on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, even though it wasn’t a save situation.
“With the turnaround the way it is last night, if I played a couple of those guys today, I’m asking to get them hurt today, in my opinion,” Collins said. “I can’t have that. We’ve still got a long stretch to go here, and I need those guys ready.”
Winners of 12 of their last 16 games, the Mets briefly moved to within a half-game of St. Louis for the second NL wild-card spot, but the Cardinals' defeated Pittsburgh later Monday to forge the one-game lead.
The Mets are six games over .500 for the first time since July 27.
Collins said Monday's game reminded him of a game in Cincinnati last Sept. 27. The day after the Mets clinched their first division title since 2006, Collins sat virtually all of his starters -- he even used Johnson at shortstop -- and still came away with an 8-1 win.
The Mets have won a dozen straight games against the Reds. That’s the second-longest winning streak against one team in Mets history. The Mets won 15 straight games against the Pirates in 1986 and ’87.
Colon (13-7) flew to Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon, ahead of his teammates. He twice faced a runner on third base with none out and stranded him, in the third and sixth innings.
Reynolds’ homer, which opened the scoring in the third inning, came in his first major league at-bat since Aug. 12. Reynolds also had an RBI single in the seventh that opened a 3-0 lead. Reynolds joined the team from Triple-A Las Vegas after taking a red-eye flight from Salt Lake City to Boston and then connecting in the morning to Cincinnati.
The Mets will bring in other weary-eyed travelers Tuesday to serve as a supporting cast. With Las Vegas’ season ending, former first-round picks Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini as well as T.J. Rivera, Eric Campbell, Josh Edgin and Erik Goeddel are due to join the Mets.
And although the Mets may be dragging, they will not be turning in early Monday night because the players will hold their fantasy football draft. Even injured players such as David Wright and Jonathon Niese made the trip to participate.