Do the Mets have a miracle finish in them? If ever there was a night to believe such a thing, this was it.
A bases-loaded double in the eighth-inning by a bit player like Rajai Davis, turning a 0-0 tie into a 3-0 win over the mighty Dodgers, was evidence in itself.
In truth, however, the belief should come from the machinations that put Davis up at the plate for the decisive at-bat.
Which is to say: Mickey Callaway got lucky.
He wasn't planning on having to pinch-hit for Seth Lugo, certainly not in a spot where the inning could have ended still tied 0-0. But when he brought Lugo into the game, after seven innings of brilliance from Jacob deGrom, Callaway double-switched him into J.D. Davis' spot in the lineup, where he was due up sixth in that bottom of the eighth.
What the manager should have done was double-switch him in for Wilson Ramos, who made the last out in the seventh. Such a move would have assured Lugo's spot could only come up if the Mets had already taken the lead, at which point there's no issue because he's the guy the Mets want closing out the game.
Instead Callaway left himself open to potentially being blamed for costing the Mets a game they couldn't afford to lose, as they needed to keep pace with the Cubs in the wild-card race.
After all, if Rajai Davis had made the final out of the eighth inning rather than getting the big hit, Lugo would have been out of a tie game, and as thin as the Mets' bullpen is, that would have been inviting disaster.
Afterward Callaway tried to justify the decision in a couple of ways: he said it's rare when you send six guys to the plate and don't score, and he's right about that, but the manager has to plan to avoid the worst-case scenario.
Secondly he said he felt comfortable knowing that he had Justin Wilson to pitch to the Dodgers' lefthanded hitters at the top of their lineup, and that's fine, but again, it only works out if Rajai Davis, a journeyman with 19 at-bats in the big leagues this season at the time, comes through with such a clutch two-out hit.
The odds weren't on the Mets' side, let's put it that way.
Indeed, it was no accident that Julio Urias pitched around Amed Rosario with runners on first and second, preferring to pitch to Rajai Davis when J.D. Davis still should have been in the game.
So if you really want to argue for Callaway, you can make the case that maybe they don't win the game if Rajai Davis doesn't hit in that spot.
But again, that's just about getting lucky, not pushing the right buttons.
In any case, if Davis hadn't delivered, and it turned out Wilson has to throw a lot of pitches and winds up going only one inning, then Callaway might just be going to Edwin Diaz in the 10th inning of a tie game.
And that's not giving your team the best chance to win the game.
Unfortunately, Callaway's in-game strategy has been an issue since he took the job. It was only a week ago that he made the bizarre decision to intentionally walk Phillies' No. 8 hitter Andrew Knapp in a spot where Bryce Harper then came up to pinch-hit against Tyler Bashlor, and then defended it by saying he did so hoping to force journeyman reliever Mike Morin out of the game.
Let's just say more than a few scouts I spoke to were rendered speechless by both the strategy and Callaway's reasoning.
All of that could come to a head at some point, but for now, well, it all worked out for Callaway on a tension-filled Saturday night at Citi Field, after deGrom and Hyun-Jin Ryu, two of the Cy Young Award front-runners, matched up in a classic pitchers' duel, each of them going seven scoreless innings
Ryu was impressive, bouncing back from four bad starts to pitch more like the guy who had a 1.45 ERA a few weeks ago, keeping the Mets' hitters off-balance with his signature change-up.
Yet deGrom was even more impressive in shutting down the offense that leads the National League in runs scored and home runs. He was never more masterful in navigating such a powerful lineup, mixing his 98-mph fastball with his slider and especially his change-up to produce what might normally be a month's worth of weak contact for the Dodgers.
On the night, in fact, deGrom threw 26 change-ups, no fewer than 10 of which produced ground outs.
"They were hunting the fastball early, and I noticed that," deGrom said. "We had them set up for it."
In his seventh and final inning, deGrom threw 12 change-ups, including seven straight at one point to Cody Bellinger and Cory Seager, as he played chess with the Dodgers' best hitters, and when he escaped the inning with two runners on, he admitted to Callaway that he was worn out _ perhaps as much mentally as anything.
So it was time to go to Lugo for the eighth and ninth. Only stuff happened and, well, somehow the Mets won anyway to stay three games back of the Cubs in the wild card race.
Maybe it's fate.