Mancuso: Mets Need Cespedes During The Stretch

Yoenis Cespedes said he wanted to hit the ball out of the ballpark and the walk-off home run was the most important home run in his tenure with the New York Mets. The big hit was so much of his routine during that magical two month run for the Mets last season.

So there was the moment that Mets fans wanted in the 10th inning at Citi Field Monday night, Cespedes, and with two outs delivered off a 1-1 pitch from the Marlins’ Nick Wittgren. The ball went deep to left-center and the walk-off hit gave the Mets a 2-1 win.

These are the moments that makes Yoenis Cespedes thrive to be the player he is. The opt out on a contract is there whether the Mets make this stretch of games count into October, but a healthy Yoenis Cespedes does make a difference.

“We’ve got to keep this guy on the field as best we can,” his manager Terry Collins said. “But I do know before he went on the DL he was hurting. That also stems from the hip earlier in the year. He’s played through some discomfort but he’s fun to watch.”

And it was a huge home run for the Mets. it was, because the win put them in a tie with the Marlins for the second NL wild card and 2-½ games behind the St. Louis Cardinals.

Collins gave Cespedes the day off Sunday. The rest is important because that injured quad continues to bring discomfort. Cespedes says he wants to be in the lineup but Collins needs him to be healthy.

“To keep him healthy is a number 1 priority,” Collins said. “He is fun to watch. You expect big things each and every time he goes up. He’s one of those guys people pay to see him play.”

And he is one of those impact players and brings a smile to his manager and teammates, because when in the lineup the Mets are a 55-48 team. Without, him, it’s a different story. The crowd at Citi Field expects the big hit and you could see it coming.

And despite what some in the media say about his work ethics, including this columnist about the Cespedes golf game with an injured quad on a game day, he is that impact player.

“Every time I see Cespedes at home plate, I feel he is going to hit a homer,” said Jose Reyes who is also a catalyst in the lineup. In fact, Cespedes would have not had the opportunity if Reyes did not double in the eighth inning off the reliable AJ Ramos and later score on a wild pitch.

“We’re going to need him,” said Reyes.

Of course, the Mets will also need more than Cespedes. They need a healthy Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera who came off the bench and struck out in the seventh. They also need Jay Bruce to get the confidence and provide that production with Cespedes that has yet to be seen.

And it is these type of moments that make one to believe the Mets will make this race interesting, though not as significant as the division title they won last September. There are three more games with the Marlins this week, and you can say the crucial series of the season.

The schedule gets easier, with exception of games with the division leading Washington Nationals this weekend at Citi Field, and three more at the Nationals in a few weeks.

But right now the focus is staying in this race and assuring that Cespedes is healthy, because he is a huge component to this important stretch of games going into September.

The Mets will get some reinforcements in September when rosters expand. Rafael Montero was dispatched from Double-A Binghamton so Jacob deGrom could get extra rest before his next start Friday night at Citi Field.

The righthander, a forgotten part of this rich pitching staff, and in a spot start tossed 5.0 scoreless innings and walked six on two hits. That was acceptable enough, and the Marlins, a team suddenly having issues scoring runs could not capitalize on the Mets bullpen that threw five shutout innings on one hit.

But it was Cespedes who made the difference. His bat always seems to come alive and makes it all worthwhile when healthy.

The Marlins opted to not walk Cespedes in that extra inning. It hurt them and because Cespedes was healthy, he delivered his second career walk-off and first as a Met.

Cespedes said through an interpreter, about the tightness of the quad “There’s moments where it tightens up, but for the most part it’s not going to stop me from playing.”

And play he will, because it is more than a fact: Yoenis Cespedes is the catalyst for the Mets to play ball in October.

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About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and BoxingInsider.com, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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