PHILADELPHIA -- Twice in two years, the Mets arrived at the midpoint of their season a broken team, seemingly unfit for October. Twice in two years, the Mets went on to salvage their lost summer, combining new parts with old ones to stage a late-year renaissance.
Their 5-1 win over the Phillies on Friday moved them within one win or one Cardinals loss of clinching their second consecutive postseason berth, while ensuring that they will at least qualify for a tiebreaker after the regular season. More likely, the Mets will host the National League Wild Card Game, needing only a win, or the combination of a Cardinals loss and a Giants loss, for that to occur. The Cardinals and Giants both won Friday night.
Those scenarios will become clearer as the weekend progresses. More important on Friday was the notion that the Mets will continue playing into next week.
"We had to take care of our own business and we've done that," manager Terry Collins said. "And we're not going to stop doing it."
The Mets qualified for at least a Game 163 in much the same way they won so many of their first 160 games, relying on a rotation replacement -- this time rookie pitcher Robert Gsellman -- to guide them into the later innings. Gsellman held the Phillies to one run in six innings, before a late offensive outburst sucked any remaining drama out of the game.
After the Phillies jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Cameron Rupp's second-inning sacrifice fly, the Mets went ahead for good on consecutive two-out RBI singles by Jay Bruce and T.J. Rivera in the fourth. Bruce added a solo homer in the seventh inning to chase Phillies starter Alec Asher, who allowed three runs in total.
The elements played a significant role on a cold, windy and damp night at Citizens Bank Park. Multiple players watched near-home runs die at the warning track, including Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, who also whiffed on a popup that the wind pushed directly onto the first-base bag.
"We're certainly limping home," said Phillies manager Pete Mackanin, whose team has lost seven of its last eight games. "Not playing well."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Bruce on the loose: It was only a week ago that Bruce was slumping badly enough for the Mets to use him exclusively as a bench player. He has reversed course dramatically on this road trip, hitting his fourth homer in six games off Asher in the seventh. Bruce also knocked RBI singles in the fourth and eighth innings, giving him eight RBIs over that same six-game span.
"Like I said from the very beginning, all I want to do here is contribute and help this team get to a World Series," Bruce said. "And in the last couple days, the last week or so, I've been able to do that." More >
Big Piece going out in a big way: Howard kicked off the weekend the Phillies will spend appreciating his career by doubling off the base of the center-field wall. It would have been a home run, if not for the strong wind knocking it down. It followed what will likely be one of many standing ovations this weekend as he stepped into the box. Maikel Franco advanced to third and scored on a Rupp sac fly to give the Phils an early lead. The double was Howard's 286th of his career, placing him 10th on the Phillies all-time list, one behind Richie Ashburn.
"It got a lot of people tonight," Howard said about the wind robbing him of a home run.
Six strong: Though Gsellman has had trouble the third time through batting orders this season, he had no problem facing the Phillies for a second consecutive game. Again relying heavily on his mid-90s sinker, Gsellman struck out four batters in the third and fourth innings alone, finishing with seven punchouts. He has struck out 15 with a 0.60 ERA his last two starts.
"I'm just focusing on having fun and doing what I do: getting ground-ball outs and having fun," Gsellman said.
Pop up, down and up: Easily the game's most bizarre moment unfolded in the top of the eighth, when Yoenis Cespedes lifted a popup toward Howard at first. The wind carried the ball out of Howard's reach, where it landed directly on the base and bounced straight up into the air. That allowed Alejandro De Aza to score from third base, though Howard did recover in time to throw out Jose Reyes at second, on what officially went down as an RBI fielder's choice. More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Phillies manager Pete Mackanin came out to argue with first-base umpire Will Little, disputing that Cespedes went around on a swing in the eighth inning. Little tossed Mackanin almost immediately after he left the dugout for his first ejection as Phillies manager.
"I had to get thrown out there," Mackanin said. "I told the umpire that I can't believe when the bat goes forward like that that he didn't swing. If he would've hung onto it, he probably would've broke his wrist. I thought he made the wrong call."
GALVIS EXITS WITH TIGHT HAMSTRING
After beating out a bunt single in the fifth, Freddy Galvis appeared to feel something in his hamstring but stayed in the game. Andres Blanco, however, was called upon to pinch-hit for Galvis his next at-bat, two innings later. The Phillies announced that Galvis left the game with right hamstring tightness. Blanco finished the game at shortstop.
WHAT'S NEXT Mets:Bartolo Colon will make his final regular-season start when the Mets and Phillies reconvene Saturday for a 1:05 p.m. ET game at Citizens Bank Park. The Mets considered starting Colon in Friday's game, but opted to keep him on regular rest instead.
Phillies: It will be a bullpen game in the middle game of the series for the Phillies, who will start Phil Klein (0-1, 8.22 ERA). Although he was mainly a starter at Triple-A this season, Klein doesn't figure to last long, as the last time he pitched more than 1 1/3 innings was nearly a month ago.