MIAMI -- The book on James Loney is straightforward, written over the course of years and, at this point, no longer open to much interpretation. A contact hitter but "not necessarily a big power guy," was how Loney's old Dodgers instructor and current Mets manager, Terry Collins, recently described him. Certainly not much of a threat against left-handed pitching.
In the coming days and weeks, that reputation may prove more true than not. But Loney's tiebreaking, two-run homer off Mike Dunn in the seventh inning on Friday shredded those scouting reports at least for one night, giving Loney his 100th career homer and the Mets a 6-2 win over the Marlins.
"Who doesn't want to hit a home run?" Loney said in a festive clubhouse afterward, wearing the championship belt that the Mets award to their most valuable player following every win.
For a Mets team struggling to score with a patchwork lineup, this one meant more than most. After Wilmer Flores drew a leadoff walk in the seventh, the Marlins brought on lefty specialist Dunn specifically to face Loney, whose career slugging percentage sits 81 points lower against left-handed pitchers than right-handers. As Dunn warmed, Loney hung by the lip of the dugout, watching.
When he approached the plate, Loney insisted he was looking not necessarily for a fastball -- just "a good pitch to hit." A 91-mph fastball up in the strike zone certainly qualified, enough for Loney to bash it off the facing of the upper deck in right.
"That was just right there for me," Loney said.
The two-run shot gave Noah Syndergaard and the Mets the lead for good and, for one night at least, allowed them to exhale, knowing Loney's presence here means that not everything has gone according to plan. The Mets acquired Loney from the Padres last week because their regular first baseman, Lucas Duda, landed on the disabled list with a lower-back stress fracture that will cost him four to six weeks. Earlier Friday, the Mets announced that third baseman David Wright will miss at least two months due to a herniated disc in his neck. And catcher Travis d'Arnaud has been sidelined since April with a partially torn right rotator cuff.
Mostly, the Mets have made do with a hodgepodge of bench players and Triple-A callups that now populate the bottom third of their lineup. But that group hadn't produced much until Friday, when Loney homered, backup catcher Rene Rivera added a two-run shot and Wright's replacement, Flores, went 2-for-3 with a walk, a double, an RBI and two runs scored.
"It's really important," Collins said. "I was really excited for all of them. They're getting opportunities. James and Flo are going to get a lot of playing time, so it's nice to get them in the mix."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.