Lucas Duda had the first multi-homer day of his career on Saturday. (AP)Between the tape-measure shots he was launching in batting practice down in Port St. Lucie and the shortened fences back in Queens, Lucas Duda generated a lot of optimism for Mets fans last month.
On Saturday, that guarded excitement became a bit more real as the big right fielder launched two home runs in a 4-2 victory over Atlanta at Citi Field. Not only did the win move the Mets to 2-0 on the season, but Duda's homer proved that there was a little bit of proof in both of the promises.
With hot dog wrappers blowing around the field, Duda launched a drive to right-center field in the fourth. The ball flew over the new fence, yet several feet in front of where the old wall still stands.
"It plays fair now," Duda said.
Duda hit another solo shot run in the seventh off Chad Durbin, a drive to right that would've been a home run in any year. It was Duda's first multihomer game in the majors.
The 26-year-old Duda hit 10 homers in 100 games in 2011, but only 57 in 1,952 minor league plate appearances. Still, the the maturation of his power was so evident in Port St. Lucie that it led Mets manager Terry Collins to speculate about Duda being a sleeper pick for 40 home runs on the day that I spent in Port St. Lucie. (I was highly amused at the time, but still selected Duda in my two fantasy leagues on the endorsement of Collins and Duda's Baseball-Reference sponsor who projects him as "New York's white Ryan Howard.")
As Mets teammate Ike Davis told MLB.com
"He had stupid power, but he didn't do it in the games. Now, he's obviously doing it in the games."
There's still a long way for Duda to hit the 20, 30 or even 40 home run mark, of course, and I'd sooner pick the 2-0 Mets to finish with a better record than the 0-2 Red Sox and Yankees. (Don't think for a second that there aren't some Mets fans out there noting the difference between starts.)
But between Duda's homer and David Wright hitting his first home run during a 3-for-5 day and quality starts from Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey, that's a nice and hopeful start for the Mets fans who are looking for reasons to believe.