Morning Briefing: At least the other contenders lost too

NEW YORK -- If the New York Mets miss the playoffs, it’s the Philadelphia Phillies who will play the spoiler role.

After suffering a dispiriting three-game sweep against the Atlanta Braves, the Mets now have 10 games remaining. Seven of those are against the Phillies, beginning with a four-game set at Citi Field to complete the Mets’ final regular-season homestand. The Mets’ other three games are at Miami.

“We’re still right there,” Terry Collins said. “I do believe we are still in the hunt. You can’t ask for more than that. We’ve just got to fight our way out.”

Despite a dispiriting loss Wednesday, the Mets remained in a three-way tie for the two wild-card spots with the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants. All three teams suffered defeats Wednesday to fall to 80-72.

Seth Lugo (4-2, 2.35 ERA) starts opposite Phillies left-hander Adam Morgan (2-10, 5.49) in Thursday’s 7:10 p.m. ET series opener.


  • Ender Inciarte reached over the right-center wall for a game-ending catch that deprived Yoenis Cespedes of a would-be three-run homer and the Braves beat the Mets, 4-3, Wednesday. Atlanta won the season series, 10-9. The Mets squandered a three-run lead, with some fans particularly agitated with Collins’ managerial moves in the eighth. Addison Reed, who recorded the final out of the seventh, was lifted with one out and one on in the eighth for Josh Smoker. When Smoker then allowed lefty-hitting Freddie Freeman to reach base on a bloop single, Collins went with Jeurys Familia for what was an ill-fated five-out save attempt. On inserting Smoker for Reed to face Freeman, Collins said: “I said, ‘This guy is too hot.’ I thought if he’s going to get a hit, face a power lefty. He got the s--- jammed out of him and blooped it in.” Read game recaps in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.

  • Barring Steven Matz reporting to work feeling uncomfortable, the southpaw will start against the Phillies on Friday. Matz likely will be capped at 50 pitches. He has been on the disabled list since an Aug. 14 start with a shoulder impingement that irritated his rotator cuff. Matz threw a bullpen session on Wednesday at Citi Field to demonstrate his readiness. “He’s certainly limited with what the workload will be,” Collins said. “He hasn’t pitched in quite a while. He looked very good. He looked nice and easy. The ball came out of his hand great.” Gabriel Ynoa will piggyback Matz’s start. Read more in the Post, Newsday, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.

  • Jacob deGrom underwent surgery Wednesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery to move the ulnar nerve in his pitching elbow. He expects a three-month recovery time and to be ready for spring training.

  • Major League Baseball is considering regular-season games in London as soon as next season, although 2018 may be more realistic. Regarldess, the Mets are receptive to being involved. London mayor Sadiq Khan was at Citi Field on Sunday and met with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon. Read more in the U.K.’s Telegraph as well as the Times and Daily News.

  • Despite two recent cortisone injections -- the second coming on Monday -- Wilmer Flores remains unable to swing a bat because of an ailing right wrist. Collins had hoped to start Flores against the left-handed Morgan, but that’s not possible. “The level of concern is DEFCON 4,” Collins said. “This guy, it’s been 10 days now and he can’t swing. I’m really concerned.” Read more in Newsday and at NJ.com.

  • Jay Bruce was out of the starting lineup for the third time in four games on Wednesday. He then struck out as a pinch hitter. Bruce is hitless in his last 14 at-bats and mired in a 3-for-39 rut. The decision to bench Bruce, at least for Wednesday, came a day after Eric Campbell pinch hit for Bruce. “This guy is a bona fide star,” Collins said. “And bona fide stars carry teams. … Obviously when you’re a star, you take it upon yourself to say, ‘Yep, I’ll be the guy for you.’ He got off to a slow start and he’s just been unable to get it going. [He] still [has] a great outlook, still believes he’s going to be a big piece. He just understands that right now it’s not working. ... All I can tell you is he’s one of those guys you just root for. You just root that when he gets his next at-bat, it’s a big hit and gets him going.” Bruce told reporters: “When I was younger, I got mad more often. But it’s a waste of energy. I broke a helmet the other night. But it’s not really characteristic of me. I try and keep a pretty level head.” Read more in the Post, Daily News, Newsday and NJ.com and MLB.com.

  • Read about Day 3 of Tim Tebow at instructional league in Port St. Lucie in the Post.

  • A Triple-A player with the Yankees is not impressed with Tebow, Nicholas Parco writes in the Daily News. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre catcher Eddy Rodriguez tweeted: “How is ‘Tebow goes deep in instructional league BP’ a headline? 80% of our pitchers can accomplish that! #publicitystunt.”

  • From the bloggers … Faith and Fear may not be that patient where Bruce is concerned. … Mets Report objects to Collins’ bullpen management Wednesday.

BIRTHDAYS: Wally Backman turns 57. ... Vince Coleman and Bob Geren are 55. ... Mark Guthrie is 51. ... Chris Schwinden is 30. ... Justin Dunn is 21. … Jeff Glenn is 25.


YOU’RE UP: Is Collins getting too much heat for in-game managerial moves?