Through nearly two weeks of the New York Mets’ 2018 season, a theme has emerged. The team falls behind, then it comes back, usually the following inning. It is a byproduct of a resilient attitude and improved lineup.
To improve their record to a franchise-best 9-1, the Mets mounted yet another quick comeback. In an 8-6 win over the Miami Marlins on Tuesday, their seventh straight victory, the Mets’ slumping and sick slugger Yoenis Cespedes dealt the deciding blow in the top of the ninth inning.
A two-run double down the line, deflected by the Marlins’ third baseman, Brian Anderson, was a positive sign after Cespedes’ 1-for-21 skid. His two hits since that drought started have been game-winners: on Sunday against the Washington Nationals and two days later against the Marlins.
But before Cespedes’ hit, Asdrubal Cabrera and Wilmer Flores tied the game in the eighth inning after the Mets’ hard-working and stout bullpen suffered an infrequent blemish in the seventh inning.
“We fight every inning,” said Cabrera, who homered twice, once from each side of the plate. “We never put our head down.”
The Marlins were powered by Justin Bour, the left-handed-hitting first baseman, who smashed his second opposite-field two-run homer of the game in the seventh inning. The first one came against Mets starter Jacob deGrom in the fifth inning to give the Marlins a one-run lead. After the Mets tied the score an inning later, Bour blasted his second shot off Mets reliever Jacob Rhame to give the Marlins a two-run lead.
That quickly evaporated following the swings of Flores and Cabrera off Marlins reliever Kyle Barraclough. Cespedes, who has been battling a cold since late last week, came to bat an inning later with two men on base and added the go-ahead hit off Marlins reliever Brad Ziegler.
It marked the Mets’ fifth comeback win of the season.
“It’s just a relaxed confidence,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “Guys aren’t pressing. And when you do that, you play at your best.”
Cespedes has pressed at the plate, often ending up late on fastballs and ahead on breaking balls. He has struck out 20 times already this season. He said he had recovered from the fever that bothered him late last week, but he still suffered from a sore throat and felt congested. He did not feel like his flulike symptoms had been the cause of his slump.
“The only way I can get out of this is by playing,” he said.
Callaway tried giving Cespedes a day off twice this week. Each time, Callaway said, Cespedes “looked at me like I was nuts.” Cespedes’ conviction persuaded Callaway.
Regardless, the Mets have won with limited contributions from such stars as deGrom and Cespedes, who have not yet performed up to their typical standards. DeGrom allowed four runs over six innings Tuesday, all in a hard luck fifth inning.
Earlier in the day, the Mets made a surprising roster move. They needed a fresh arm for a bullpen that has carried a heavy workload so far, but in order to make room to call up right-handed pitching prospect Corey Oswalt they demoted outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who had played well, to Class AAA Las Vegas so he could play everyday.
Oswalt wasn’t needed. After the Mets clawed back, Jeurys Familia, the Mets’ reliever, fired a scoreless ninth for his sixth save.
“When you’re hot, you need to win as many games as you can,” Flores said, adding later: “We need to keep this going. Teams we need to beat, we’ve got to beat them.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.