By Ed Coleman
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Jason Bay is not a savior, but his return to the lineup on Thursday night at Citi Field certainly saved the Mets from further embarrassment, as they won for just the second time in 10 tries at home this season. Bay was not the big star – he basically used a 3 X 5 area down the right field line to do all his damage, collecting a ground-rule double in the 4th inning, and then using the same spot in the 8th inning to bounce one past Houston outfielder Hunter Pence, the error allowing the exhausted Bay to touch all the bases and score.
But Bay’s arrival and presence in the clubhouse and lineup seemed to energize his teammates. The Mets hit a season-high 3 homers – a blast by David Wright which snapped an 0-20 skid at the plate, a 430-foot bomb by Ike Davis, and rookie catcher Mike Nickeas’ first major-league long ball. They also matched their season-high in runs scored with 9, done back on April 3 in Florida. It was a sorely needed boost for a team that couldn’t seem to get out of its own way over the last couple of weeks.
Bay is extremely laid-back and unassuming, but he realizes his return can begin to help ease the load on others in the lineup.
While Bay was whiling away the days down in Port St. Lucie, itching to get back, he caught the team as much as he could on TV. What he witnessed was a system-wide breakdown.
After last year’s concussion wiped out Bay’s second half of the season, missing this season’s first 18 games – when he was poised to begin a full productive year – brought one emotion into focus.
In 2009 while with the Red Sox, Bay slugged 36 HR and drove in 119 runs. During last year’s injury-shortened season – and with 183 fewer AB – he hit just 6 HR with 47 RBI. So people constantly ask him if he can be the player he was in Boston two years ago.
And Fenway is Fenway, so the natural follow-up to that is – will Citi Field allow him to be that player.
The Mets have still lost 5 straight series after taking two of three against the Marlins in Florida to open the season, so whether a turnaround is coming remains to be seen. Catcher Josh Thole probably summed things up the best.
This & That
Some young Met pitchers have been impressive at the start of their seasons, something that may bode well for the future. Jenrry Mejia has been sharp at Triple AAA Buffalo with a 0.98 ERA in 3 starts – Brad Holt likewise in three starts at Double AA Binghamton with a 0.50 ERA. Also at Binghamton, lefty Mark Cohoon – the Organizational Pitcher of the Year last season – has allowed just one run over 19 innings in 3 starts with 20 strikeouts. Last year’s # 1 pick – RHP Matt Harvey – went 3-0 in his first three starts at St. Lucie, giving up only one unearned run in 16 innings while striking out 20. And Rule 5 draftee Pedro Beato has worked 10 innings over 7 outings without allowing an earned run thus far. The righty has held lefties to a .133 batting average (2-15).
Make sure Chris Capuano gets more starts at Citi Field. The Mets have just 2 wins at home – Capuano has them both.
C U soon