CINCINNATI — Who says being homer dependent and missing high-end starting pitchers are problems?
“When you’re a star, that’s what they do,” manager Terry Collins said.
The Mets (73-66) appeared poised to move into a tie with the Cardinals for the second wild-card spot. But moments after the Mets’ win, St. Louis produced three homers with two outs in the top of the ninth at Pittsburgh to pull out a 9-7 victory and hold off the Mets.
The Mets now have 189 home runs — fourth most in franchise history. With 23 games remaining, they need only 11 more homers to match the franchise record of 200 set in 2006.
A whopping 53.7 percent of the Mets’ scoring this season — 293 of 546 runs — has come via the homer. The Mets are 63-36 in games in which they produce a homer.
The Mets now have won 13 straight games against the Reds. That’s two shy of matching the Mets’ record against a single opponent — a 15-game winning streak against the Pirates in 1986 and ’87.
The Mets are seven games over .500 for the first time since July 26. They have won 13 of their past 17 games.
The Mets are chugging along despite the recent absences of Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz from the rotation in addition to a litany of position-player injuries. In fact, the Mets are now 6-2 in games started by Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman or Rafael Montero.
Montero may be the weakest link of the bunch, but the Mets have won both of his starts filling in for deGrom.
On Tuesday, Montero departed with runners on the corners and one out in the fifth. Josh Edgin entered and surrendered a sacrifice fly to Joey Votto as the Reds grabbed a 3-2 lead. Montero was charged with three runs on three hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings. He has walked 10 batters in 9 1/3 innings in two starts since deGrom’s forearm inflammation issue surfaced, but the Mets have survived.
Collins said he is undecided whether Montero will get the next turn if neither deGrom nor Matz is ready to return.
Regardless, despite the glut of injuries, things certainly are looking up for the Mets. With the Miami Marlins dipping under .500, the Mets only have three games remaining against teams with winning records. That’s one more series against the Washington Nationals next week in D.C.
Cespedes said the Mets’ current magic is reminding him of last year. Fueled by his success, the Mets ended up winning the National League pennant.
“It’s more the ballclub, where we’ve been down, and we’ve fought to try to overcome,” Cespedes said through an interpreter. “Last year was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever lived through.”