Welcome to the majors.
Santos had just hit the first grand slam in Citi Field history for his first career RBIs, backing a two-hitter by John Maine and three relievers that carried the New York Mets over Florida 7-1 Monday night, the Marlins’ seventh straight loss.
Having landed in the left-field seats, the ball was lost to him. But Santos was brought back by the crowd of 38,573 for a curtain call.
“It’s in my memory. That’s it,” Santos said. “Just the moment.”
Santos’ first-inning drive on a fastball from Anibal Sanchez (1-2) went about four rows in and was just the sixth home run for the Mets at the pitcher-friendly ballpark, their first in six games since April 17.
Two days shy of his 28th birthday, Santos is getting playing time because Brian Schneider is on the disabled list with a strained back muscle. Santos was in the Yankees’ organization from 2001-07, then signed with Baltimore and made it up to the majors for the first time last Sept. 5.
Why did the native of Puerto Rico sign with the Mets in January?
“It’s a winning team, a great city,” he said. “You feel like home, because every corner that you stand, everybody speaks Spanish.”
Santos’ homer came in his 28th career at-bat and made him just the third player to hit a slam for his first big league homer while with the Mets, following Jack Hamilton and Jose Reyes. When Schneider is activated, the Mets likely will decide whether Santos or Ramon Castro will be the backup.
“We want to take a good look at him,” manager Jerry Manuel said. “It will make for a tough decision.”
Daniel Murphy and David Wright tripled for New York, which has more three-base hits (seven) at its new ballpark than homers. Overall, only 15 homers have been hit in 10 games at Citi Field, a stark contrast to the 26 that rocketed out of the new Yankee Stadium during the opening six-game homestand.
“Maybe in the summer the ball will carry better, when the weather gets warmer,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Maine (1-2) won for the first time in four starts this season, allowing only an unearned run and one hit in six innings and lowering his ERA from 7.47 to 5.40. Sean Green pitched a hitless seventh, Putz followed with a one-hit eighth and Francisco Rodriguez finished the two-hitter around a pair of walks in a non-save situation.
“I think my first few starts I was really rushing myself,” said Maine, who threw live batting practice between starts. “For some reason, I just get a little too excited out there.”
Jorge Cantu hit an RBI single in the first after left fielder Gary Sheffield dropped Emilio Bonifacio’s easy fly ball leading off for a two-base error, the fifth error by Mets outfielders this year. When Sheffield caught consecutive flyouts in the seventh inning, he twice received standing ovations from the crowd, which chanted his name.
Manuel vowed a visit to the outfield Tuesday.
“There’s something going on out there. I got to find out. It’s only out there when we’re out there,” he said. “It’s not out there when they’re out there.”
Florida, which started 11-1, is on its longest losing streak since dropping eight straight from Aug. 15-22, 2007, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Sanchez, whose ERA rose from 2.50 to 4.13, gave up six runs and eight hits in six innings. He threw 40 pitches in the first.
“I don’t know anything about that guy,” he said of Santos, “but that was my mistake. One pitch. A fastball right in the middle.”
Sheffield and Wright, who had gone 1-for-12 with no RBIs and six strikeouts in the weekend series against Washington, hit RBI singles ahead of the slam. Wright tripled off the center-field wall in the eighth against Renyel Pinto and scored on Ryan Church’s sacrifice fly.
Wright shaved his hair to a crew cut between Sunday and Monday.
“It’s low maintenance. It’s hot outside,” he said. “Hopefully, it has some wins in it.”
Marlins SS Hanley Ramirez left after he was hit on the right hand by Maine’s pitch in the first inning. X-rays were negative. … Mets 2B Luis Castillo left in the fifth with a muscle spasm in his back.