Slumping since Mets debut, utility man opens three-RBI day when umpire appeared to screen fielder
By Joe Trezza
NEW YORK -- Nestled almost unceremoniously within the Mets' 12-3 offensive barrage vs. the Rockies on Thursday -- squint or you missed it -- lived a small moment that may have gotten the Mets' forgotten Trade Deadline acquisition back on track.
New York hadn't heard much from utility man Kelly Johnson since he homered in his Mets debut July 25, a day after being acquired with Juan Uribe from Atlanta. Johnson struggled to a .158 average over his first 12 games in New York and misplayed an important fly ball in right field on the last road trip.
On Thursday, Johnson broke out with a 3-for-4, three-RBI day that began with a lot of backspin and a little bit of luck.
With a runner on second and the game tied at 2 in the first, Johnson rifled a one-hopper off Rockies starter Eddie Butler that Statcast™ tracked at 102 mph off the bat. Even with the Rockies playing an aggressive shift, Johnson's ball shot between shortstop Daniel Descalso and second baseman DJ LaMahieu before splitting two outfielders for a go-ahead double. Here's where the luck comes in.
"I know Descalso was playing right behind the umpire, and he said the umpire kind of screened him," Johnson said. "I'll take it. I was due to gets some help somewhere down the line."
Johnson didn't need any the rest of the day, adding a clean RBI double in the third and a solo homer in the fifth off reliever Scott Oberg.
"We're trying to mix and match and get everyone to be a part of it," said Mets manager Terry Collins. "Kelly hadn't played in a few days, and he steps up and has a huge game."
Johnson himself could serve as a microcosm for these new-look, mix-and-match Mets. Johnson keeps three gloves in his locker and wears as many metaphorical hats. He's the most experienced interchangeable part on a roster that's now won 11 of 13 despite featuring only a handful of players in consistently defined roles.
"It's a deep roster. For the most part, guys know the matchups we'll be put in to succeed," Johnson said. "Since I've been here it's been pretty good. First day in we scored 15 runs. So I haven't seen it too bad."
Joe Trezza is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.