Francisco Lindor heard the boos at Citi Field much too often last year. He was not producing in the first half of a Mets season that suddenly collapsed when the Braves made their run to a World Series championship.
This season, oh what a difference a year makes. The Mets continue to win ball games. They took four of five from those Braves and made a statement that they are the better team.
And Lindor is a better player. He has adapted to hearing the fans cheer. He has become the player that the Mets expected after signing that $375 million, 10-year contract and with a permanent home at shortstop. He admitted, after the Mets beat the Reds, 10-2 Wednesday afternoon at Citi Field for their fifth series sweep, it has been all about playing in New York.
Lindor said playing every day was a part of the description when he signed that contract. He has lived up to expectations and is part of the winning formula that has these Mets on a current six game winning streak, 7.0 games over the Atlanta Braves, 73-39 and 34 games over .500.
Wednesday, Lindor scored three runs and matched a franchise record of scoring a run in 13 consecutive games, tying David Wright for the longest streak in franchise history. His 3-for-4 day included a walk, and a two-run single in the second inning that increased his RBI total to 81. Lindor tied Jose Reyes for the most RBI by a Mets shortstop in a single season. He and Alonso are the only pair of teammates with at least 70 RBI in the majors this season.
It happens because, as Lindor said. “Comfortable learning from the guys and coaching staff. Feeding off the energy from the crowd. Just out there grinding. The boys are grinding. I just want to be out there with them.”
Lindor was referring to playing every day, though manager Buck Showalter removed him in the 9th inning. After all, the Mets need him healthy and strong for the stretch run and into the anticipated October postseason.
The Mets have scored five or more runs in their last nine games and entering Wednesday that was tied for the longest streak in the majors. Basically, the Mets are winning ball games at a rapid pace and Lindor has been in the middle of it all.
He said about the RBI totals “It’s a blessing. Because whenever you can do something cool, it’s a blessing. Being next to Reyes, somebody I grew up watching, it’s great. But I’m here to win a World Series. That’s all I have in mind. Along the way, things like this are gonna happen.”
After Wednesday the stats also read: 20 home runs, 11 stolen bases, 74 runs scored and one of four players with at least 20 home runs and 10 steals. Also, one of four with 70 RBI and runs scored.
And for Lindor and the Mets it’s happening because the wins have been keyed by a deep starting rotation that follows a healthy Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer. Mets starters are 6-0 with a 1.40 ERA during their current winning streak.
In the series finale with the Reds, Taijuan Walker tossed 6.0 innings, gave up two runs on 5-hits, with three walks and two strikeouts. He reached the 10-win mark for the second time in his career.
Showalter said about Lindor, this is all about skill and he is setting the tone for others in the lineup.
“Francisco brought that skill set to New York,” referring to the player that was expected when the Mets acquired the every day shortstop from Cleveland. “I remember talking to Terry Francona before the season, and it’s one of the things he talked about. He talked about how much he likes to play. And likes to compete.”
There is a long way to go before October but at this pace you’d have to say that Lindor is on a record pace. He is making constant contact at the plate and, unlike last year, has cut down on the strikeouts.
But it’s all about winning for these New York Mets. They have the nucleus to keep this going as they await the Philles for the next three. And they have Francisco Lindor playing every day with the ability to take the Mets deep into October.
“I do take a lot of pride coming in day in and day out knowing that I’m going to play,” Lindor said.
Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso Watch “Sports with Rich” live on Tuesday Nights at 10pm ET Youtube with Robert Rizzo