Yoenis Cespedes’ free swinging both helped and hurt the Mets on Friday
It was the best – and worst – of both worlds to having Yoenis Cespedes in the middle of the Mets lineup on Friday night.
On the one hand, Cespedes had three hits and fell a triple short of the cycle in the Mets 3-2 loss to the Pirates at Citi Field. He is now hitting .304 with an .816 OPS in 13 games with the Mets, proving once again to be a difference maker in the middle of a suddenly versatile and competent offense.
On the surface, that’s a great night despite a loss. But it was in one of the two at-bats he did not record a hit which could have contributed to the loss.
In the third inning with runners at second and third and nobody out, Cespedes struck out swinging on two pitches up and out of the strike zone to help stymie the Mets best chance of the night.
Juan Uribe followed with a pop up, and Daniel Murphy struck out to end the inning.
“That game got away in the third inning,” Terry Collins said after the loss. “That’s where we have to score.”
And that’s when free swinging must be avoided, and good situational hitting must be executed. The Mets had two outs to score the tying run, and they did not, thanks in large measure to Cespedes’ wild swinging.
“I would have lost a big bet there with those two guys coming up against a left-hander,” Collins said.
Sure, Cespedes deserves credit for his game-tying home run in the sixth inning, and his big night in general shouldn’t be ignored. But his own ways bit the Mets too, and cost them as much as he helped them particularly on Friday night.
Cespedes has been particularly vulnerable on pitches above the belt. It’s not uncommon with hitters like Cespedes who feature a long, upper-cut swing. On Friday, JA Happ exploited this issue with Cespedes and got a big out in a difference-making situation.
Make no mistake – this is not a knock on Cespedes. And, it’s not as if Uribe needed a hit to tie the game, either.
He is truly a great player, and he is incredibly fun to watch. Like a lot of dynamic players over the course of history, his free-swinging nature is just part of who he is, and he cannot come through in every single situation, anyway.
It happens, and if he connects and doesn’t strike out, of course this is a different story.
His presence alone has been a huge part of the Mets wildly successful run during the month of August, during which they have gained 6 1/2 games in the standings against the Nationals in only 13 games this month. His outfield defense in two positions has restored credibility in that department as well.
And, so has his flair and star power.
While his own hitting philosophy may not be exactly what this front office envisions in their ideal player, the bottom line is Cespedes has had a profound affect on this roster, and really is a perfect fit for this club in the long-term.
The Mets may be challenged to retain Cespedes beyond 2015 due to the stipulations in his current contract, but that should not detract their interest in one of the most electrifying and game-changing players in the game.