The Mets aren’t closing in on a wild-card berth for a lot of reasons, not the least of which has been emergency starter Seth Lugo.
An after thought in spring training, Lugo figures to be the Mets’ third starter in the NL Division Series should they advance that far.
The victory, coupled with the Cardinals losing at home to the Reds, reduced the Mets’ magic number to two over St. Louis. The Mets are off Thursday then have three games over the weekend in Philadelphia, while the Cardinals have four games remaining.
Lugo is as much an unsung contributor as anybody to have the Mets in this position.
“This kid has come here and done nothing but save us,’’ manager Terry Collins said of Lugo, who hasn’t given up more than three runs in any start.
In beating the Marlins, 5-2, Wednesday night, Lugo won his fifth game, and the Mets are undefeated in his last seven starts, impressive numbers as he helped fill the voids created by injuries to Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Jacob deGrom.
Couple what Lugo did with three wins by Robert Gsellman – Friday’s starter in Philadelphia – and the Mets wouldn’t even be sniffing October.
Credit Lugo’s five victories in large part to his batting-average allowed with RISP to .149.
COLLINS SHOWED CLASS: The Mets and Marlins exchanged embraces prior to Monday’s tribute game to Jose Fernandez.
But, after the game Collins walked towards the Miami dugout to exchange hugs with Marlins manager Don Mattingly, hitting coach Barry Bonds, second baseman Dee Gordon, outfielders Christian Yelich and Jeff Francoeur, and later club president David Samson.
During the series, numerous Marlins – notably Gordon – had high praise for the Mets, who signed the Fernandez jersey that hung in their dugout presented it to the Miami front office.
“We have a special group of guys they are respectful of the game and respectful to people,’’ said Collins, who lead the way.
BRUCE, GRANDERSON STILL SMOKING: Jay Bruce’s miserable slump is behind him as he homered for the third time in four games.
After being benched and on the verge of being written out of the Mets’ postseason plans, Bruce regained his spot in the lineup.
Bruce has 32 homers overall and seven with the Mets.
“He’s locked in for me,’’ Collins said. “It couldn’t come at a better time.’’
Bruce said his timing is a lot better and spoke with a feeling of relief.
“Ever since the day I got here I wanted to play good baseball and be a contributor to the team,’’ Bruce said. “This is a good team and I’m having a lot of fun being here.’’
Also having a lot of fun is Granderson, who went 4-for-4 and reached base five times, and eight straight overall.
Once mired below .180, Granderson is up to .233 with a .331 on-base percentage.
Granderson’s surge coincides with Yoenis Cespedes’ return from the disabled list, which enabled him to settle in at the clean-up spot.
“He’s been a different animal since he moved to fourth,’’ Collins said. “He’s been getting walks and hitting home runs.’’
EXTRA INNINGS: If the Mets have a playoff berth wrapped up by Sunday, they are likely to skip Noah Syndergaard’s start to have him ready for a start Wednesday. If the Mets need to win Sunday to secure the home field for the wild-card game, they are still likely to skip him. … Lucas Duda, who had two hits Tuesday, was scratched with soreness in his lower back. James Loney was back in the lineup and homered (eighth). … Addison Reed registered his 39th hold and Jeurys Familia his 50th save. … Tim Tebow homered on the first pitch he saw in an Instructional League game.