NEW YORK -- A pair of banged-up teams will square off in the rubber game of a three-game series Thursday night as the New York Mets host the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field.
The Mets cruised to an 11-2 win Wednesday night, when a makeshift lineup missing five Opening Day starters still managed to rack up a season-high 19 hits. The 11 RBIs were collected by five players -- Wilmer Flores, Matt Reynolds, Kelly Johnson, Rene Rivera and James Loney -- who either began the season as backups in New York, in the minor leagues with the Mets or with other organizations entirely.
"You need those kind of guys (who) when they get their chance to play (can) do something to help you," Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Collins was hopeful the Mets would get back at least one starter on Thursday. Second baseman Neil Walker missed his third straight game due to a sore lower back, but Collins said Wednesday night that Walker told him he was feeling much better after being prescribed some medication and that he wanted to play Thursday.
The outlook is less positive for Mets outfielder Juan Lagares, who was scratched due to a sore left thumb about an hour before first pitch. Lagares tore a ligament in the thumb making a diving catch June 4 and Collins acknowledged the Mets might have to make a roster move to avoid being down multiple players again.
Left fielder Michael Conforto was unavailable Wednesday after getting a cortisone shot in his sore wrist on Monday.
The Pirates, meanwhile, may have lost another player when left fielder Starling Marte suffered a facial injury while diving for a single by Yoenis Cespedes in the fifth inning. Marte left almost immediately and manager Clint Hurdle offered no updated after the game, though Marte posted a picture of his swollen face with an optimistic message on Instagram late Wednesday night.
The Pirates are already without catcher Francisco Cervelli, who is out four to six weeks with a broken hamate bone, and ace right-hander Gerrit Cole, who went on the disabled list Tuesday with a triceps injury.
"This game, a 162-game schedule, is going to let you know if you have depth, if you have real depth, or if you're lacking depth," Hurdle said before Wednesday's game. "It's also going to give opportunities to different guys at different times. We call it 'next man up,' and there's going to be some opportunities for some men now to be the next man up."
Mets right-hander Bartolo Colon and Pirates right-hander Juan Nicasio are scheduled to take the mound. Colon earned the win in his most recent start June 9, when he allowed one run on eight hits and no walks while striking out two over seven innings in the Mets' 5-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Nicasio last pitched on Friday, when he was used in relief for the first time this season and took the loss after giving up six runs on four hits and two walks while striking out two over one inning in the Pirates' 9-3, 12-inning loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.