Slugger's two-run homer caps his three-hit, three-RBI night
By John Donovan
Special to MLB.com |
ATLANTA -- At this point, all the New York Mets and their postseason-eyeing fans can do -- all they really should want to do -- is sit back and enjoy the show. The Yo Show.
Yoenis Cespedes continued a blistering start to his Mets career Friday at Turner Field with a towering two-run, ninth-inning home run that capped a three-hit, three-RBI performance, pushing the Mets to an easy 5-1 win over the Braves and padding the Mets' National League East lead to a sturdy 8 1/2 games over the fading Nationals.
Cespedes' 33rd homer of the year plated the 99th and 100th RBIs of the season for the 29-year-old outfielder. Thirty-nine of those RBIs have come in the 38 games since joining the Mets after a trade from Detroit on July 31. It's the second straight season in which he's driven in 100 runs.
Cespedes is also hitting .313 in a New York uniform, with a 1.041 combined on-base and slugging percentage in his 38 games. With his 15 homers, 10 doubles and three triples while with the Mets, Cespedes is the only player in modern Major League history (since 1900) with 28 extra-base hits in his first 40 games with a team after switching teams in a season.
"He's just a great hitter. You're looking at a guy that, he uses his first at-bat to gauge what he's got to do. I really believe that," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "This is a new league [for him]. To see these [opposing pitchers] for the first time, he kinda sees what they're throwing, how they like to get guys out, and then after that … he's dangerous."
Cespedes admitted to reporters after the game: That's exactly what he's doing up there.
"My approach is, my first two at-bats, is to study to see what the pitcher has," he said through a translator. "That's an old way I learned in Cuba. After that, I'm going to see what the situation is in the game."
Cespedes cashed in his 98th RBI of the season in the third inning Friday when he crushed a double off Atlanta starter Matt Wisler over the head of center fielder Michael Bourn, plating Mets leadoff man Curtis Granderson. In the fifth, he singled hard to right field off Wisler.
In the ninth, though, with the Mets clinging to a two-run lead, Cespedes put the game effectively out of reach when he turned on a 3-0 fastball from Braves reliever Arodys Vizcaino and smoked a towering drive into the left-field seats. The Mets knocked Atlanta pitchers around for 11 hits Friday. Cespedes had the only two extra-base hits.
"I feel really calm, really, really content," Cespedes said, "because I can produce and help this team to win. And everything is clicking."
Cespedes has been especially sizzling as the Mets have surged to the top of the NL East in September. In 10 games this month, he's hitting .413. The Mets are 7-3 in those games and have won five straight.
"The only thing that I can tell you is what Matt Harvey told me on the bench tonight," Collins said. '"I don't know if there's another league higher [for Cespedes].'"
John Donovan is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.