It’s starting to look that way, even if it’s not the prettiest baseball ever seen.
A night after twice overcoming two-run deficits while down to their final two outs, manager Terry Collins used six unheralded pitchers to piece together a 10-5 win against the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday at Citi Field.
Michael Conforto's three-run homer -- his first long ball since Aug. 7 -- highlighted a six-run fifth inning as the Mets overcame an early 3-1 deficit and a quick hook for Ynoa.
The Mets (82-72) opened a one-game lead over the San Francisco Giants and a 1.5-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals in the wild-card standings. The Cardinals lost earlier in the day against the Chicago Cubs, while the Giants lost late Friday at San Diego.
Collins used “only” 20 players on Friday. That came a day after setting a franchise record by using 27 players in the series opener against the Phillies.
“I know one thing: You come to the park these days, you know you’re going to get in a game,” Collins said. “I was pretty happy I only had to use seven [pitchers] tonight. I had eight or nine ready.”
The Mets had hoped Steven Matz would return from the disabled list to start Friday’s game. But Matz, who has not appeared since Aug. 14 because of a shoulder impingement, felt pain after throwing a bullpen session on Wednesday and was scratched. Ynoa took the start, and Collins gave him a quick hook with the Mets trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the second and the tying run on second base with two outs after Travis d’Arnaud’s RBI double.
Collins said he would not have lifted Ynoa except for the fact that there was a runner in scoring position. Ynoa already had allowed five hits and a walk.
Collins certainly is managing for the moment given the magnitude of each game. He yanked Ynoa even though the Mets will be throwing Gilmartin on Saturday in place of Noah Syndergaard, who has been scratched with strep throat. Gilmartin has not thrown more than 18 pitches in a game since returning from Triple-A Las Vegas in late August, which may mean additional heavy bullpen use.
“When we found out Noah’s not available, I guess you just brush it off and say, ‘What else can happen?’ But you play through it,” Collins said. “We played through it tonight. And we’ll play through it again tomorrow.”
After Ynoa departed, Logan Verrett, Josh Smoker, Erik Goeddel, Josh Edgin and Hansel Robles combined to get the Mets to the finish line on Friday. Robles recorded the final eight outs to earn his first save since 2011, when he was pitching with Class A Kingsport.
“I saw he had five or six baserunners in the first couple of innings,” Collins said about Ynoa, “and I said, ‘I don’t like the way this is looking.’ So I thought we’d try to score early. We got some innings out of some guys, certainly, that kept us in the game. Then the offense got it going.
“I tip my hat to all those young kids. We’re putting them in a tough spot.”