By Lenn Robbins
When was the first time you pinched yourself Friday night?
Was it when Todd Frazier’s three-run homer left Citi Field faster than the Mets can print playoff tickets? Or was it when Michael Conforto launched the most thrilling single of the season, driving in Juan Lagares with the winning run in a stunning, thrilling, unbelievable 7-6 win over the Nationals?
Or was it Saturday morning when you awoke on planet Earth and it was confirmed that the Amazin’ events of last night were not a dream?
Conforto really was running shirtless in the outfield after the giddiest players not in the Little League World Series celebrated in short center. Dominic Smith, his injured left leg resting on a scooter, was violating some obscure city driving ordinance by tearing out to join the celebration.
“It felt like the playoffs with the stadium packed,’’ Conforto told reporters.
Yep, it felt like the playoffs. It felt like the playoffs In Citi Field not Yankee Stadium, where playoffs feel like an annual rite. The fans that call Citi Field home don’t enjoy October baseball very often. But they got a taste of it Friday night, and man, was that delicious.
Trailing 6-3 in the bottom of the ninth against the best National League team they’ve faced since the All Star Break, J.D. Davis doubled against Nationals closer Sean Doolittle. Wilson Ramos singled to center.
Frazier came to the plate with visions of going deep.
“Pretty much,’’ he admitted later.
Frazier should be charged with baseball abuse for how criminally he crushed Doolittle’s pitch. Game tied, 6-6.
“You don’t feel like you’re out of a game when you’re on a run like this,’’ said Frazier.
Ah yes. The Run. Perhaps that’s the title of the second half of the Mets season. The Run.
With Citi Field still reverberating from Frazier’s blast, more magic. Joe Panik, making his Mets debut, singled. He was erased on Lagares’ bunt. Jeff McNeil flied to right. Amed Rosario singled to left.
Up came Conforto, the former first-round pick in the 2014 draft and closest thing the Mets have to an elite bat. His hard, rising blast to right cleared Adam Eaton’s head and mayhem came to Queens.
The win marked the first time this season the Mets won a game in which they trailed after eight innings. Forty-four times the Mets had failed in that situation. But on this night, the Mets told themselves, and their fans, they are not the same old Mets.
They had won for the 14th time in 15 games, a feat not accomplished since 1990.
As the fans erupted in euphoric celebration, the Mets hopped the dugout railing and made a run for Conforto. Pete Alonso, not quite sure what to do in such scenarios, pulled off Conforto’s jersey.
The Mets are now one-half game out of the Wild Card and one and one-half games behind the Nationals for the first Wild Card.
“Right now, we’re firing on all cylinders,’’ Conforto said. “Our confidence is just building with each win.”
Go ahead. Pinch yourself.