The home run ball powered Mets to Another Win

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The home run ball powered Mets to Another Win

By Rich Mancuso


Noah Syndergaard ,the right hander who has adapted into a strikeout artist for the New York Mets admitted Monday night that he did not have his best stuff on the mound when facing the lineup of the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field. His 38 strikeouts in four starts this young season matched Pedro Martinez for the most by a Mets starter.


And with that strikeout ball working again, even without his best stuff, the guy they call “Thor” at Citi Field was still overpowering with a nasty slider and changeup that had mileage.  But he did not get the decision and that did not matter because the Mets once again used the home run ball to get a 5-3 win.


The Mets more known for that young and good pitching staff which is highly touted, have a new weapon: The home run ball.


And when you get respectable pitching from your starters, as the Mets always seem to get every time they take the mound, the home run ball that has become a common thing only makes it better for the defending 2015 National League Champions. They are hitting home run balls the past few games without Yoenis Cespedes in the lineup who is day-to-day with a strain and bruise of the left knee.


But the acquisition of Neil Walker, batting once again in the fifth spot has paid dividends in their first 18 games.  Walker homered in the seventh inning to give the Mets the lead, and there was no doubt that the second baseman has quickly made Mets fans forget about Daniel Murphy who went on that long ball tear late last season and into the postseason.


So quickly the Mets have become a home run threat. There is nothing wrong with the way Walker is hitting the ball, and also doing it against left handed pitching which was always a dilemma during his tenure with the Pittsburgh Pirates.


“I hope he keeps doing it,” said Mets manager Terry Collins about the Walker home run ball. It was the eighth home run for Walker in April which tied Jeff Kent (1994) for most home runs in the month by a Mets second baseman. And with four games remaining in the month, Walker has a chance to surpass which is now his career high for a month. One more, he ties a Mets record for the month.


Collins added, “He’s a good spot in the lineup to produce runs because those guys have been getting on base ahead of him.” And again, that is without Cespedes for the time being not in the lineup who is supposed to be the major run producer for the Mets.


So now, besides the Citi Field crowd looking for another strikeout from Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz there is the home run ball they look for. Michael Conforto went 3-for-3 hitting third again and homered in the first inning, his third, which also marked the eighth time New York has scored in the opening game in their last 10 games.


They say hitting is contagious. And it could be the home run ball also when it comes to the Mets this month.  The team as a whole has hit 27 home runs this month which is seventh in the Major Leagues. Three more from Walker, Conforto, and Lucas Duda, along with the pitching from Syndergaard, and sixth save from Jeurys Familia gave the Mets a season high four game winning streak.


Since the start of their road trip that started April 15th In Cleveland, and ended Sunday in Atlanta, the Mets have hit 26 home runs which matches a 10-game stretch in their franchise history.


Walker was supposed to be an upgrade at second base when Murphy departed for free agency. He does have power to the opposite field and at this rate could produce 35 or 40 home runs at the conclusion of the season. And if he stays injury free, and the swing continues to be this good, who knows how many Walker will hit out of Citi Field and opposing ballparks.


“You have your stretches where you get hot and get a lot of base hits,: he said, “or drive the ball. Doubles and so on and so forth. Obviously never like this, home run wise. Like I’ve said, I tend to hit a fair amount of fly balls. Maybe those extra push ups in the offseason are helping.”


And that response drew a smile.  Walker does not resemble that home run hitter but he does keep that smile in the clubhouse.  Travis d’Arnaud, the catcher who left the game with shoulder soreness, that could put him on the disabled list, was the first to say about Walker “He’s the first to come in here and give us all a laugh.”


But the laugh is leading to home run production from Walker. And the Mets can keep laughing to the top if this contagious streak of home runs continues during this current homestand that continues with the Reds Tuesday evening when Bartolo Colon takes the mound and tries to surpass Pedro Martinez as number two for most wins by a Dominican pitcher.

Comment Rich Mancuso:  Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

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