NEW YORK (AP) — Robinson Canó hit three home runs, breaking loose from a season-long slump in a huge way and leading Jason Vargas and the New York Mets over the San Diego Padres 5-2 Tuesday night.
The 36-year-old Canó drove in all five runs and went 4-for-4. Vargas pitched one-hit ball for six shutout innings, possibly enhancing his trade value.
Canó began the day batting just .243 with six homers in his first season with the Mets. Yet before the game, manager Mickey Callaway expressed confidence that Canó would produce, putting him in the category of “Hall of Fame hitters.”
Canó homered three times in a game for the first time in his career. It was just the third three-homer game ever by a Mets player at home — Lucas Duda and Kirk Nieuwenhuis both did it in July 2015.
After singling in the first, Canó made it 1-0 in the fourth with his first home run at Citi Field since early April.
Canó hit a two-run homer off Chris Paddack (6-5) in the sixth and a two-run shot in the seventh off Logan Allen — both drives sailed into the second deck.
Of Canó’s nine homers this year, five have come since the All-Star break. This was his 23rd career multihomer game and first since 2017 with Seattle.
Yoenis Céspedes was the previous Mets player to hit three homers, doing it in 2017. The feat has been accomplished by 13th different Mets players, with Céspedes doing it twice.
Vargas (5-5) put on a pitching clinic, getting the San Diego hitters to consistently flail away.
The 36-year-old lefty permitted only a single by Eric Hosmer in the fifth, struck out eight and walked three. Rookie Fernando Tatis Jr. struck out three times and Manny Machado swung at a strike three that bounced.
Several scouts were at Citi Field, and no doubt the performance Vargas piqued their interest as the July 31 trade deadline approaches.
Vargas’ hardest fastball was clocked at 84.6 mph — Paddack’s slowest changeup came in a tick faster 84.7.
The anticipated showdown between rookie stars Pete Alonso and Paddack didn’t amount to much — the slugging Alonso walked twice and grounded out against the young fireballer.
Edwin Díaz relieved with two on in the ninth and got his 22nd save in 26 chances, allowing an RBI double to Tatís before retiring Manuel Margot on a game-ending lineout with two on.
Major league batting leader Jeff McNeil was hit in the right elbow by a Paddack pitch in the fifth. McNeil was checked by a trainer and stayed in.
RHP Zack Wheeler (shoulder impingement) threw batting practice on the field and could be activated Friday to pitch against the Pirates. “I’m 100 percent. Ready to go,” he said. Callaway said Wheeler, who last started on July 7, will be on a pitch count of 75-85 pitches. Wheeler (6-6, 4.69 ERA) has been the subject of trade rumors leading up to the July 31 deadline. “Last year was the same way,” he said.
RHP Noah Syndergaard (7-4, 4.36) is 4-0 in his last nine starts.
(© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)