David Wright hasn’t hit much, but his hits have count when they’ve come
It hasn’t been an easy ride for David Wright in the playoffs so far this month.
But that’s been the case for the Mets captain since April 14, when he began a most uncertain road through the 2015 season.
Entering play on Sunday night, Wright was just 1-for-19 with ten strikeouts in six postseason games.
Granted, much of that came against Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Jon Lester, but his problems got to the point he was called into a meeting after game one of the National League Championship Series with his manager to ask if he was dealing with any physical pain.
Wright denied that was the case, only to acknowledged that he just “sucked” at the moment and wasn’t producing for his club.
Being the team-first player Wright has always proven to be, he did in fact offer to defer to someone else on Sunday night if Terry Collins felt there was a better alternative against Jake Arrieta.
But Collins felt there was no better option than Wright for third base, and the second spot in the lineup at that. Part of that has to do with the absence of Juan Uribe, but that’s also a tribute to Wright and his veteran presence, despite hardly hitting a lick in the postseason.
“He’s been in this environment a long time,” Collins said early Sunday. “I just keep saying, ‘look, keep putting those good at bats on because it’s going to happen. He’s just too good a player.'”
Fortunately for Collins and the Mets, sticking with the team’s captain – the longest-tenured Met and the man who has stood on the front line for this team time-and-time against during the dark times – paid an immediate dividend.
With Curtis Granderson reaching base in what has become a typical fashion in the playoffs (he has a .448 OBP in seven games), Wright smoked a 2-1 fastball over the head of Dexter Fowler to plate Granderson, give the Mets the lead, and pace the Mets to their second win in the NLCS and third consecutive postseason win.
“It felt nice,” Wright explained after the game. “I’ve had some poor at bats and some good at bats where you have nothing to show for it. But through all of it, you try to grind it out and you try to do some other things, if you’re not swinging the bat that well. So it’s nice to be able to come out and contribute early, especially off a guy that’s probably the frontrunner for the Cy Young.”
Of course, that was only the beginning of the Mets early barrage against Arrieta. That’s because Daniel Murphy had yet to come on the stage he has come to own during the playoffs.
Once he did, he stole the show again with a two-run home run hooked around the right field fair pole.
“[Murphy] has been about as hot as anybody I’ve ever seen. So offensively it just clicked for us early. We needed all those,” Wright explained.
Murphy certainly spaced the lead out, but it was the second time in the postseason Wright has come through with a run scoring hit. He plated two runs in game one of the Division Series against Pedro Baez, which ultimately proved to be the difference as well.
So at the very least, Wright has made his two hits count in a big way, producing three runs with a double and a single in those two instances.
“He’s so important to the club,” Collins explained about Wright after Sunday’s win. “We need his presence in the lineup. He’s still dangerous, and every time he walks in that batter’s box, you just feel good like he’s going to get something good to hit, and hit it over the fence or against the fence. That leadership, you’ve got to have it on the field.
Wright believes opening this series at home against the Cubs has offered the club a tremendous boost.
“We feel like this is a tremendous home field advantage. So to be able to have that advantage in this series and come out and take care of business against [Jon Lester] and Arrieta, first two games at home, I think it was big for us moving forward. Hopefully we can kind of keep that momentum going in Chicago,” Wright explained. “The fans were huge for us. Especially with the elements tonight. When they get into the game, that adrenaline kind of rubs off for us as the home team.”
If there’s anyone who deserves what seems to be transpiring with the Mets, it’s Wright. The playoffs have unquestionably been another trial in what has been an exhausting and uncertain year for the 32-year-old Mets captain. He had spent more time receiving treatment on a physical therapy table in Los Angeles than he had playing baseball in 2015. By some accounts, the fact he’s back and playing as much has he has is miraculous in it’s own right.
All of that combined with standing in front of the media, day-after-day, justifying the Mets cause through so many losing years and the controversies and distractions which have come about during that time as well make Wright a heroic soldier throughout this long war for the Mets.
But the term, “miracle” seems to be the common theme with these 2015 Mets. They’re now just six wins away from completing that miracle.