By Ed Coleman
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Top of the sixth inning Wednesday night in Miami. The Mets trail the Marlins 3-0, two outs, nobody on. Marlon Byrd hits a little floater past the mound that’s run down by shortstop Ed Lucas behind the bag at second base. Lucas gloves it and fires on to first — safe! Byrd, running hard as usual, beats it out for an infield hit.
When Ike Davis follows with a double into right field, Byrd scores all the way from first to put the Mets on the board, much like he did on Monday night in more dramatic fashion when he scored the winning run from first on another Davis double.
Rewind to a couple of hours earlier, pre-game inside the Mets clubhouse. The team is biding time before on-field stretch at 5:25. Some are listening to music on headphones, others are catching up on trade deadline deals on the clubhouse TV, most are gathered around and mesmerized by the latest video game craze – NHL 13.
In the middle of the room stands Byrd, bat in hand, explaining the mechanics of a swing, with Josh Satin and Justin Turner listening intently.
You want to know why Marlon Byrd is still a Met after 4 p.m. on July 31? That’s why.
Byrd came to the Mets looking to resurrect his career and has certainly done that, and added experience, leadership and input to his teammates while doing so. Mets GM Sandy Alderson spoke by phone about the reasons for retaining Byrd and not shipping him elsewhere at the deadline:
Want another reason? Take a look at Byrd’s month of July. He hit .336 with six doubles, three triples, five home runs and knocked in 20 runs. Byrd hit safely in 23 of the 27 games he played in, and had 14 multi-hit games. And he leads the team in HR (17) and RBI (60).
Byrd talked about how and why he tries to help the younger players on the team:
Bobby Parnell’s name came up a lot in fan talk leading up to the trade deadline. Why? Teams search forever for closers. Teams try to buy closers — most often unsuccessfully. (Frank Francisco, anyone?) When you can groom and have one come up through your system, why in the world would you want to part with him? Apparently, Alderson feels the same.
Parnell has 22 saves in 26 chances, and ended with a 0.60 ERA over 15 innings of work in July.
The other breakout player in July was center fielder Juan Lagares. Coming in, going back, into the gaps — this kid simply covers a LOT of territory. And he busted out offensively as well — in 22 July games, Lagares batted .353 with seven doubles, seven runs and 13 RBIs. Lagares has hit at every level he has played on, sometimes it takes a little while, as evidenced by his tenure with the Mets. He has raised his average each month since arriving here – April (.083), May (.171), June (.271), and July (.353).
Here’s Byrd on Lagares:
Improvement, it’s what you want to see.
The Mets finished their latest road trip on a down note, losing another Matt Harvey start. As dominating as Harvey has been this season, the Mets are just 12-10 in his 22 starts. That’s sad.
The last two road trips went 7-4 and 6-3. This one regressed to 3-5. But the Mets can’t score. Anemic would be kind to describe the offensive support that the usually solid pitching receives. If you put aside the first game of the trip — an 11-0 blowout of the Nationals in the first of two last Friday (and the Mets tacked on six runs in the ninth inning) — these are the paltry numbers for the remaining seven games. The Mets hit .224 as a team. It gets worse — how about .153 with RISP. Or leaving 62 runners on base. And of the 53 hits over the final seven games, 15 went for extra bases — but they did not hit a home run in any of the games.
I’ll leave you with the exasperation oozing from the words of beleaguered manager Terry Collins.
C U soon
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