In another impressive showing, it was a day of redemption for Michael Cuddyer…
There aren’t too many days in a baseball player’s career which can be classified as terrible when he singles twice, walks and scores two runs.
But that nearly happened for Michael Cuddyer on Sunday afternoon at Citi Field.
With two outs and a run in for the Red Sox in the top of the seventh inning, Mookie Betts aired a lazy flyball to left field, which seemed sure to be caught and end Boston’s threat with Jackie Bradley on second base.
But Cuddyer got a bad jump on the ball, and Betts’ sure popup landed on the grass. Instead of the third out, it was a run scoring triple to tie the game.
“It was a ball I couldn’t get to,” Cuddyer said. “It dropped.”
But it needed to be caught, and his bad jump cost the club. He knows that too.
Cuddyer would have a chance to redeem himself in the bottom of the seventh.
With one out and Daniel Murphy on second, Cuddyer laced his third hit of the afternoon with a single to left field, plating Murphy and giving the Mets a 5-4 lead they would not relinquish, although, they nearly did in the ninth inning.
Cuddyer’s seventh inning RBI single capped his afternoon with a 3-for-3 effort and two runs scored.
“He’s an outstanding player and he’s a pro,” manager Terry Collins said after the game. “He plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”
With that said, Cuddyer may never have had the chance to redeem himself if not for Murphy stealing second base on the first pitch Cuddyer saw. It was a gutsy, aggressive decision on the part of Murphy, but a smart play to get himself into scoring position and give Cuddyer the chance he ultimately took advantage of.
“I was watching him warm up and he seemed like he might be a little slow to the plate,” Murphy explained about his stolen base. “So I just felt like I was going to take a shot right there, 0-0. And also if I run early, it gives Cuddy a chance to take it and still have pitches left.”
Sunday was another impressive showing by Cuddyer, who has become more productive in a reduced super-utility role which has him at first base, left or right field on any given day. Sunday was Cuddyer’s third three-hit game in his last ten games – he had three three-hit games all year until August 24. He’s hitting .375/.423/.583 with four doubles, two home runs and eight RBI in 52 plate appearances over 17 games since returning from the disabled list.
“Definitely [the bone bruise in the knee] was a factor, but it wasn’t the reason I was struggling or whatever the case was,” Cuddyer explained on Sunday. “And it’s not the reason I’ve gotten some hits the last few days. But it’s part of it. There’s no question about that. It feels good. I’m able to plant on it. It’s stronger.”
He’s right, because Cuddyer began this productive stretch in early July, right around the time he injured his knee. He’s hit .351/.398/.956 in 27 games since July 3 with four home runs and ten RBI during that span. The Mets are 18-9 in those 27 games.
Less has certainly been more for Cuddyer.