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Harrison Bader: Mets focused on playing game right way in London Series

LONDON, UK - Despite a strong performance in their series sweep of the Washington Nationals this week, Harrison Bader and the Mets aren’t about to get carried away thinking this could be a turning point in their 2024 season.

Bader, who turned 30 on the day of the series opener in Washington, drove in seven runs in the three-game set, as the Mets put together their first three-game winning streak since April 20. Having won five of their last seven, the Mets moved within three games of the final Wild Card spot in the National League.

However, their mindset heading into the London Series with the Philadelphia Phillies has more to do with remaining focused on playing the game the right way and taking it one game at a time than trying to ride any waves of momentum or start looking too far ahead.

Bader said that the fact that the Mets put together this winning streak is proof that this is the right approach because that’s exactly how they played in the Nationals series and their focus will be to continue in that vein.

As for Bader himself, he entered the series in D.C. with just 16 RBI in 52 games this season having never been someone who drives in a lot of runs. However, he found himself in the position to drive in runs on multiple occasions in the Nats series and delivered in those situations. While this is not necessarily his usual game, Bader said he can still take the positives from having executed in those situations. Although his mindset with men on base might be slightly different, these successes won’t affect his usual approach at the plate.

Bader recalled the fact that the first London series was extremely high scoring, noting that sometimes young players can get caught up in the fact that there are opportunities to swing for the fences and admitted that this might have affected him as a younger player. But, these days, he understands the value of a consistent approach and the positive results it should lead to.

In any case, the field has been re-configured since the first London Series with some of the fences having been moved back. Bader is more than happy with that since he relishes the opportunity to cover a lot of ground in center field, as opposed to playing in a smaller ballpark like Fenway, where he would tend to feel “boxed in.”

Bader’s approach and mindset in center field is basically the same as at the plate. As observed by the SNY broadcast crew during the Nationals series, he tracks each fly ball all the way and then backs up at the last moment so he’s in a position to throw the ball back in, as opposed to some outfielders who will run to a spot and then try to find the ball.

This is another example of consistently doing things the right way, according to Bader, who credits his father with teaching him how to play the outfield correctly at a young age. This taught him to field every fly ball the same way whether or not there are men on base so that it becomes second nature to do that and put himself in a position to make a play with his arm in a pressure situation.

Coming up big in pressure situations has been Bader’s specialty at the plate as well, with some clutch hits in some of their most exciting wins, including a game-tying two-run double in the recent comeback win over the Giants.

If Bader finds himself in a pressure situation — at the plate or in the outfield — during the weekend series, he’ll be ready. The Mets will be hoping that this consistent approach continues to yield the same kind of positive results for him.