The three longest tenured Mets drove their subway car to a win on Friday
In what has been a rarity since July 31, the Mets got some offense from people not named Yoenis Cespedes on Friday night.
For it was David Wright, Lucas Duda, and Daniel Murphy who had big nights early for the Mets, while Juan Uribe put the capper of the opener of their three-game subway series against the Yankees on Friday night.
Each of the three longest-tenured Mets provided two hits apiece. For Wright, he produced his third multiple-hit game in his last four games, has a five-game hitting streak and is 8-for-18 with four doubles and three RBI during that span.
But he wasn’t the only star of the show. In fact, his performance – as good as it was against Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees on Friday – was merely the footnote.
For it was Duda, Murphy and Uribe who put on the latest light show for the first place Mets.
Duda tied the game in the bottom of the second inning with a solo home run to right field to snap out of a skid of 66 at-bats without a home run. Then in the sixth inning, Murphy gave the Mets a lead they would not relinquish with a long home run himself.
“That’s what your veterans are supposed to, they’re supposed to step up,” Terry Collins said. “Your star players, when you’re on these big stages, that’s when they come through.”
For Duda, his home run might have been just as significant for him as it was for the team. Coming into the game, he was hitting just .188 in 78 plate appearances since August 3. His slump was prolonged to the point his manager hinted Duda could lose playing time if things didn’t turn around soon.
As he did the last time his job was threatened, Duda responded.
Masahiro Tanaka was dazzling from the moment he took the mound through the first 5 2/3 innings of his game. He pounded the strike zone as he normally does down and on the corners, and if the Mets took, they fell behind in the count immediately.
For the most part, he didn’t throw anything above the knees as his splitter consistently tumbled down and out of the strike zone, and all the Mets could do was swing and miss or produce weak ground balls around the infield.
But the two times he centered his pitches, the Mets took advantage and made them stand up.
“Tanaka was really pitching great. I bet if you talked to him, he probably would tell you he made two mistakes, and they were both hit out of the ballpark,” Collins said.
For Murphy, he considered his third at bat a tremendous victory considering how his night started out against the Yankee ace.
“Did you see my first two at-bats?” he asked jokingly. “I was very fortunate to even hit it on the barrel after my first two at-bats.”
It was Murphy’s second home run in five days which either tied or gave the Mets a lead. He now has five such home runs in 2015.
“It was nice because of the way their starter can throw the ball,” Murphy said in praise of Tanaka. “He’s as tough as they come. You really got to lock in on him. He chewed me up and spit me out a couple of times tonight, there’s no doubt about that.”
Murphy said he made an adjustment with his leg kick prior to his sixth inning at-bat, which allowed him to see the ball better out of Tanaka’s hand. But on a rare occasion Friday night, Tanaka worked a deep count against Murphy in that sequence, which forced a mistake over the middle of the plate.
And it worked to the benefit of Murphy and the Mets.
Uribe capped the night with an opposite-field pinch-hit home run to against Yankee reliever Chasen Shreve in the seventh for his 14th home run of the season.
That was enough for the Mets bullpen, which while short thanks to a back injury to Tyler Clippard, provided three scoreless innings of relief.
There have been two instances Cespedes has slumped since joining the Mets, and each time the rest of the lineup has struggled as well.
Interestingly enough, both of those instances came at Citi Field.
For the Mets to succeed, they’re going to have to find a way to carry the offense when Cespedes is in a funk. After all, it won’t be the last 0-for-13 skid Cespedes finds himself in. So, it’s critical the Mets pick Cespedes up and be a well-balanced threat on a nightly basis.
And as Collins said, the veterans – the guys who have been here the longest and endured the most pain of any tenured Met – carried the offense as they needed to.