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In the top of the eighth inning, Baez hit what proved to be the game-winning home run, taking an Anthony Bass slider the other way for his second homer with his new club.
But his base-running magic in the second inning may have provided the bigger “wow” moment.
With Baez at third and the Mets up 1-0, Tomas Nido chopped a ball to first base. Jesus Aguilar came up throwing, and his throw home beat Baez to the plate by a few feet. Baez looked dead to rights, but at the very last moment, he pulled his left hand back and slid around catcher Alex Jackson to put the Mets up 2-0.
“I don’t know, I think sometimes it just depends how fast or how long the ball beats me to the bag,” Baez said of his slide home. “I honestly don’t plan, I just react to it. I just switched my hands, I really don’t know how to explain it. It’s just instincts from me.”
It was the exact type of energizing play the Mets dreamed of when they acquired Baez at the deadline.
“This guy’s a special player,” manager Luis Rojas said afterwards. “The home run, for me, is the biggest highlight, of course, to take the lead, but the slide at home plate. You forget about these things, right? For me, it’s a sure out, just with the timing of the play. And then the next thing you know, you see his hand touching the plate before they tag him.
“I mean, he’s a special player. He can beat you in so many ways. Defensively, he makes some plays look easy, and they’re not. They hit some bullets at him, and he was just on his toes ready to catch them. Outstanding player, that’s where he shows up. He can show up in any area and he can beat you.”
It’s no secret that the Mets have scuffled of late, but they did snap a three-game losing streak with Wednesday’s 5-3 win.
And according to Rojas, a player like Baez, and a night like he had on Wednesday, could be exactly what the Mets need to really get going.
“He’s really exciting to watch. You’re waiting for something to happen,” Rojas said. “Even the swings and misses he takes, everyone in the dugout, you can hear them. That energizes everyone. A guy that I call fearless, that’s what Javy is.
“He ignites, I think, our team. Great acquisition, once again. I think he’s the one guy who can get us going right now.”