Daniel Vogelbach, Jeff McNeil, Edwin Díaz key to Mets win – MLB.com

Daniel Vogelbach, Jeff McNeil, Edwin Díaz key to Mets win - MLB.com

NEW YORK — One could see quite clearly, during various points of the Mets. 4-3 win over the Pirates on Friday night, what this might look like in October. Strong pitching performance. A home run and a hit-and-run. Pinch runner Terrance Gore stealing a base in a key spot. Edwin Diaz locking down a five-out save.

If the Mets hope to not only earn a spot, but also advance deep into the playoffs, they’ll need those kinds of contributions — the small ones, the big ones — more often than not. And they’ll need them against some of the best teams in the National League.

While the Pirates may not meet that qualifier, Pittsburgh presented enough of a challenge for Friday’s win to remain competitive until the end, with enough moments of import at Citi Field.

The Mets already led by a run in the fourth inning when Daniel Vogelbach stepped to the plate and launched an opposite-field homer over the fence in left-center. It was the first home run since Aug. 22 for Vogelbach, who went 54 plate appearances between them.

When the Mets acquired Vogelbach and Darin Ruf before the Aug. 2 Trade Deadline, they envisioned those two forming a potent enough squad to compete with some of the better hitters in the game. For a short while, their vision was realized, until both Vogelbach and Ruf fell into deep slumps in late August.

Recently, however, Vogelbach has resurfaced, getting three hits, two extra-base hits and four RBIs over his last two games against his former team, the Pirates. It’s not a large enough sample size to proclaim Vogelbach, er, back, but it’s certainly enough to give the Mets hope.

“Hitting is hard,” Vogelbach said. “I wish I had 20 home runs over the last three weeks. You can always learn from the good ones, but you can really learn from the bad ones.”

When the Mets ask Jeff McNeil to play right field, he says, there’s a short adjustment period — especially at Citi, which features one of the weirder wall alignments in the game. But anyone who watched McNeil on Friday would have a hard time believing it’s not his natural position.

With two men on base in the fifth inning of a one-run game, Oneil Cruz hit a high fly ball that didn’t initially appear destined for the seats, but that eventually pushed McNeil onto the warning track. As the ball threatened to go straight over McNeil’s head, he jumped to catch it, leaving little emotion as he did so.

“In the beginning, I thought it was just volleyball,” Cruz said. “I saw it kept traveling, and then right away, I was like, ‘Oh man, that might come out.’ When I saw him catch it, I was like, ‘Man, just a little bit more and I could have gotten a home run off that.”

It wasn’t McNeil’s only notable catch. On the final play of the game, Cal Mitchell hit a similar shot to the right, where McNeil had a slightly easier time settling under it. Although Díaz thought the latter ball might be off the bat, McNeil blocked it without issue.

“The outfield to me is really fun,” said McNeil, a natural second baseman. “The ball goes in the air, I go to catch it. That’s all there really is to it.”

As the Mets had spent the previous two weeks vacillating between losses and blowout wins, Díaz hadn’t seen a save opportunity in over a fortnight when he relieved Mets starter Taijuan Walker with one out in the eighth after Cruz hit a two-run homer. .

Díaz, who is used to multi-inning save opportunities, faced no trouble for the rest of that inning. But in the ninth, after he drew a leadoff walk, pinch runner Greg Allen appeared to steal second base. Only after consulting a replay did umpires realize that Luis Guillorme blocked the base with his leg, buying himself enough time to catch Tomás Nido’s throw and tag Allen.

“I knew if I gave Guillorme a good shot to make a tag it was going to be very close,” Nido said. “Still, I’m not surprised he was able to get out.”

Moments later, Díaz nailed down the final two outs to end the Mets’ second straight win, dropping their magic number to clinch a playoff spot at 5.

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