Bruce already looking forward to next big spot

New Mets outfielder strikes out on three pitches with bases loaded in 7th

Bruce already looking forward to next big spot

NEW YORK -- This was Jay Bruce's first big chance with his new team: bases loaded, nobody out, the Mets trailing the Yankees by three in the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium.

He struck out on three pitches. Bruce took a fastball from Luis Severino for the first strike, swung through a second, then peered out over the plate as a third heater hummed across the outside corner for a called strike three. The Mets only pushed across one run in the inning, and the Yankees broke the game open with three in the bottom half as the Mets fell, 9-5, on Wednesday night.

"Obviously, I would have at least liked to at least put the ball in play," Bruce said. "But I'm guessing that's not gonna be my last opportunity, so I'm looking forward to the next one."

In Bruce's two games as a Met, he has yet to record a hit. A pair of 0-for-4 nights doesn't mean much in the big picture, but Bruce was the Mets' big-ticket non-waiver Trade Deadline acquisition specifically because of his bat, to form a one-two punch with Yoenis Cespedes.

On Tuesday, after Bruce's Mets debut in the Queens leg of the Subway Series, Cespedes said, "The team's been struggling with runners in scoring position, but now that he's here, he's gonna be a big help to the ballclub."

The Mets have been the worst team in baseball this season hitting with runners in scoring position -- their .208 team batting average ranks dead last in the Major Leagues -- and they added Bruce with that in mind.

"I try not to put too much pressure on hitting with guys on, runners in scoring position, quote unquote 'big spots' like that," Bruce said Wednesday. "Because in my opinion, I should take the same at-bat, the same focus, the same intensity, regardless of the score or who's on or who's not on."

With Cespedes' balky right quad forcing him to the 15-day disabled list after Wednesday's loss, though, there is more of a burden on Bruce to produce in the middle of the Mets' lineup, although Bruce said he can't let that change his approach.

"I don't think the outlook is any different," Bruce said. "Very, very unfortunate that Yoenis hit the DL, but that's why it's called a team, and I think that everyone in here understands that they're gonna have to pick up some slack and play good baseball. And we need him healthy."

Now two games out of the second National League Wild Card spot and 8 1/2 games behind the Nationals in the NL East, the Mets also need Bruce to hit.

David Adler is a reporter for based in New York. Follow him on Twitter @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.