COMMENTARY | Jordany Valdespin has a flare for the dramatic.
On Wednesday afternoon at Marlins Park in Miami, he may have saved the New York Mets' season.
If you think that's a bit of an exaggeration, consider the situation the Mets were in at the time, where they've been, and where they're headed.
The Mets were trailing the Marlins 4-2 in the top of the sixth inning. They had lost the first two games of the series, both crushing losses. In the first game, the Marlins scored a run in the ninth inning to tie the game, then two in the bottom of the 15th to win it. In the second game, Miami scored twice in the ninth inning for its second straight walk-off win.
The Mets had lost six games in a row and they trailed throughout Wednesday's game until Valdespin got the call. His pinch-hit, three-run home run put the Mets ahead for good. It was the sixth pinch-hit homer of his career, a career that started last season. It was also his second of the season. Valdespin's grand slam in the 10th inning last week gave the Mets a win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. That was the last time the Mets had won before Wednesday's come-from-behind victory.
There were other really important plays and sequences in the final game of the series against the Marlins. John Buck delivered a two-run double in the seventh, David Wright hit a solo homer in the fourth, and the Mets' bullpen didn't allow an earned run in four innings of work.
So while Valdespin can't do it all by himself, he may just be the best bench player in baseball. Because of how successful he is in that role, it appears that's where he'll stay for the time being. But you can expect to see a lot of Valdespin throughout the season.
New York now heads to Atlanta where they'll take on a Braves team that got off to a hot start, but one that's cooled off a bit since. Atlanta just split a four-game series with the Washington Nationals. The Braves' 17-11 record has them five games ahead of the Mets (11-15) in the standings.
But imagine the shape the Mets would have been in had they lost Wednesday. Sometimes you get the sense that people are waiting for the bottom to fall out, even if we are only one month into the season. Getting swept by the Marlins, the team (along with the Houston Astros) with the worst record in baseball, would not have been good.
Before Valdespin's at-bat, the Mets' season seemed to be ending a couple months earlier than it usually does. All hope seemed to be lost. But that was before Valdespin did what he does best.
He just may have saved the Mets' season.
Charles Costello has followed the Mets closely since the rookie years of Darryl Strawberry (1983) and Dwight Gooden (1984). He was a beat reporter assigned to cover the Mets during the 1997 and 1998 seasons.
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