Juan Lagares’ four-hit night propels Mets to rare laugher
Juan Lagares’ chances to play in a crowded Mets outfield have been scant, but his production — especially at home and against left-handed pitchers — is undeniable.
On Tuesday, soft-tossing lefty Jaime Garcia served as a piñata, not only for Lagares, but the entire Mets lineup in a 12-2 romp over the Blue Jays at soggy Citi Field.
Lagares, hitting in the No. 2 hole, finished 4-for-5 with three RBIs on a night the Mets collected 16 hits and showed life at the plate after a frustrating stretch over the last 2 ¹/₂ weeks.
The victory was the second in three games for the Mets, who are 12-0 all-time against the Blue Jays at home. The franchise record for consecutive home victories is 14 straight against the Pirates in 1986-87.
Lagares is 9-for-27 (.333) against lefties this season. He has also been a beast at Citi, where he is 15-for-32 (.469) overall. The Mets certainly need those contributions as Michael Conforto and Jay Bruce continue to search for their respective swings. And the fact Yoenis Cespedes is battling a hip flexor injury that could land him on the disabled list only increases Lagares’ importance.
“You have more players than there are spots,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “You try to mix and match the best you can to put [Lagares] in a good spot, but it seems whatever spot he’s been in he’s done a heck of a job.”
Lagares had plenty of help Tuesday: Amed Rosario tied a career high with three hits and drove in two runs and Devin Mesoraco reached base five times, including a two-run homer in the eighth that gave the Mets their final runs. Mesoraco walked three times.
“We needed it,” Callaway said. “We had a lot of production from the bottom of our lineup to set the table for the top and it was really good to see.”
The Mets turned it into a 9-2 runaway with three runs in the fifth. Rosario, Brandon Nimmo and Lagares each delivered an RBI single in the inning in adding to the cushion.
Mesoraco, playing his first home game with the Mets since arriving in a trade with the Reds last week for Matt Harvey, added the icing with his two-run blast in the eighth.
“It was very cool,” Mesoraco said. “You want to make a good first impression and tonight I was able to do that.”
Seth Lugo and Jacob Rhame combined to give the Mets four scoreless innings of relief behind Noah Syndergaard, who struck out the side to begin his night — after a rain delay of 1 hour, 26 minutes — but wasn’t particularly sharp throughout.
Syndergaard slogged through five innings in which he allowed two earned runs on five hits, two walks and a hit batter. The right-hander was removed at 103 pitches, after escaping trouble in the fifth when Teoscar Hernandez hit into a double play.
The Mets erupted for five runs in the fourth to take a 6-2 lead, knocking out Garcia in the process. The big hit was Lagares’ two-run single in an inning the Mets sent nine batters to the plate and collected five hits.
Bruce’s bloop double to left started the rally before Mesoraco walked and Syndergaard delivered a sacrifice fly for his second RBI of the game. Rosario followed with an RBI double that just missed clearing the right-center fence. After Lagares delivered for two runs, Asdrubal Cabrera stroked an RBI double against Jake Petricka for the Mets’ fifth run in the inning.
Syndergaard labored to escape a third inning in which he threw 31 pitches and surrendered two runs. Curtis Granderson, in his first game back at Citi Field since departing the Mets last August in a trade with the Dodgers, started the rally with a single and stolen base. Yangervis Solarte stroked a two-run single that put the Mets in a 2-1 hole after Justin Smoak had singled and Hernandez was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Syndergaard’s broken-bat RBI double in the second brought in the game’s first run. Mesoraco walked leading off the inning to begin the rally.
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