Wilmer Flores celebrated his 27th birthday in style for the Mets, but it was late-July call-up Jeff McNeil who had the biggest bash Monday against Cincinnati.
McNeil, who is settling so wondrously into the No. 2 spot in the order, made it eight hits in a span of 12 at-bats with a three-hit night that included his second homer to highlight a varied offensive show that enabled the Mets to hold off a fevered Reds comeback for a 6-4 victory at Citi Field.
Noah Syndergaard (7-2), who sailed early before running into big trouble in the Reds’ four-run seventh, won for the fifth time in his past six decisions.
McNeil did a little of everything offensively. He singled during a three-run first inning, moving a runner to third, and eventually scored. He moved along leadoff hitter Amed Rosario when he singled again in the fourth. He later launched a solo home run to right in the sixth against Reds reliever Keury Mella.
Not a bad encore to his 4-for-4 game Saturday when he became the seventh Met ever to fashion a four-hit game within his first 10 MLB games. McNeil was one of three Mets with three-hit games Monday as he was joined by Flores and Austin Jackson.
“I started off a little bit slow, small sample size so my average wasn’t where I wanted it. Then after a good day, it goes up quick. As of right now, everything feels good,” said McNeil, who entered the night hitting .310.
After four innings Monday, the Mets had five runs and 11 hits en route to a 16-hit night. Three of them were by Flores, who drove in a pair of runs, scored another and reached on a hit by pitch in his fourth at-bat in the sixth. Through four, those 11 Mets hits had come from eight different spots in the order. It was, you know, the basic output they have managed in Jacob deGrom’s last 29 starts.
The beneficiary of this embarrassment of offensive wealth was Syndergaard, who sidestepped dust-ups here and there before his luck ended in the seventh.
With two out, Syndergaard hit consecutive batters. Singles to Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza produced one run, left the bases loaded and forced manager Mickey Callaway to summon Bobby Wahl. But Wahl walked ever-dangerous Joey Votto to force in the run that made it 6-2. After fanning Scooter Gennett, Wahl exited for Robert Gsellman, who was greeted with a two-run single by Eugenio Suarez. Gsellman struck out Mason Williams to end the fuss then pitched the eighth. Jerry Blevins worked the ninth for his first save.
Rosario, McNeil and Flores opened the first with singles off Reds starter Homer Bailey. Flores’ hit knocked in a run — as did those by Todd Frazier and Jackson. The hit by Jackson ended a Mets’ 0-of-29 streak with runners in scoring position and two outs, the second-worst such streak in team history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Flores, who made a bad base-running decision when he was nailed at home in the third, singled home a run in the fourth, which began with Kevin Plawecki’s third homer of the season. McNeil added his homer in the sixth to make it 6-0.
McNeil definitely is the type of guy the Mets want to see as they move forward. There will be lots of scrutiny on all the young guys, especially in the last two months.
“You need to evaluate all of our players, our organization as a whole, going into the offseason, so we can make adjustments if need be,” Callaway said. “Part of that is going out and seeing what these young guys can do — if they can go out there and win games, while still working on things that they need to improve on. … We have to get these young guys some playing time so we can get better in the future, as well, and evaluate where we are.”
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