Long balls fly at Citi Field as hitters rejoice and pitchers grumble

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 06: Todd Frazier #21 of the New York Mets hits a two-run home run during the eighth inning of the game at Citi Field against the San Francisco Giants on June 06, 2019 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 06: Todd Frazier #21 of the New York Mets hits a two-run home run during the eighth inning of the game at Citi Field against the San Francisco Giants on June 06, 2019 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

NEW YORK -- Todd Frazier was seemingly the only person inside Citi Field on Thursday afternoon who thought his fly ball in the eighth inning would leave the yard.

Mark Melancon threw a knuckle curveball down and away to Frazier, whose right knee hit the ground at the end of his swing. He appeared to hit it off the end of his bat.

The ball appeared to be a routine fly with Melancon even going to back up a potential tag with the go-ahead run at second. But the ball kept going. And going. And going.

Mike Yastrezmski eventually ran out of the room as the ball soared over the wall, giving the Mets the lead for good in an eventual 7-3 win at Citi Field.

The Mets (30-32) took two of three from the Giants.

"I had an inkling it was (out)," Frazier said. "I’ve done that a couple times in my career. One of those things where I squared it up, as silly as that sounds, you reach out and touch somebody and what we call scooping them. ... I was pretty happy with the outcome."

While Frazier's homer was a much-needed blast for a Mets team that could not afford a series loss to the awful Giants, it also highlighted why there is a growing frustration among pitchers.

Balls that shouldn't be leaving the yard, and didn't in the past, are going out.

Frazier's ball had an exit velocity of 94.7 mph and an expected batting average of .230, according to BaseballSavant.com. That's not a ball that should clear the wall.

Four homers were hit between the teams Thursday.

"Anytime I think they take a swing kind of out on their front leg and almost with their back knee on the ground, you don't anticipate that it's going out. You usually read the swing, and it just kept on going," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. "It looked like Frazier knew it was gone. He's hit so may of them like that. He was aware that it was gone, but we were like, 'get in the gap, get in the gap,' but then it goes over the fence. He's got raw power."

Players are reluctant to publicly complain about the ball, but behind the scenes, those involved with the pitching side of the game are frustrated.

There are questions about the the consistency of the baseballs, and how pitchers can grip them. Entering Thursday, the league rate for homers was 1.35 per game, the highest in the history of the sport.

"Every fly ball I was standing out there on the mound because I didn’t know if it was going to go out today," Mets starter Zack Wheeler said. "A couple questionable home runs but obviously can’t say anything about it. Try to pitch and get outs.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 06: Zack Wheeler #45 of the New York Mets pitches during the fourth inning of the game against the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field on June 06, 2019 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 06: Zack Wheeler #45 of the New York Mets pitches during the fourth inning of the game against the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field on June 06, 2019 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Wheeler, who allowed just 14 homers last year in 182.1 innings, has already surrendered 11 in 84 innings this year after yielding two in seven innings.

Brandon Belt hit a 97-mph fastball out to left-center to tie the game at 2-all in the fourth, and Pablo Sandoval hit a no-doubter in the sixth to put the Giants ahead, 3-2. Belt's homer had an expecting batting average of .710, and carried well.

Wheeler's teammates, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, are also dealing with increased home run rates. Syndergaard has allowed 10 in 82 innings this season, which is more than he allowed all of last year in 154.1 innings.

DeGrom, the reigning Cy Young Award winner, has surrendered nine in 69.2 innings after only allowing 10 homers last year in 217 innings.

Wheeler shrugged his shoulders when asked if he thought Frazier had hit a homer. He’s allowed homers in five straight games, and at least one homer in four starts.

"You try not to blame it on the home runs, but when you make pitches and guys are putting the bat on the ball and it’s going a long way, you get kind of frustrated," Wheeler said. "You can’t let it get to you mentally, you have to say it is what it is and try to make your pitches and get ground balls.”

The flip side is certainly the hitters don't mind the ball flying out.

The Mets extended their franchise record by homering in the 13th straight game, hitting three, including back-to-back homers by Amed Rosario and Dom Smith to start the game against Giants righty Shaun Anderson.

Frazier acknowledged that his game-winning homer wasn't even a good pitch to swing at, but he managed to get his hand underneath it.

He added that the wind was going to left

Yet another day when it's good to be a hitter, and bad to be a pitcher.

"Just carried out," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of the homer. "I thought it was a fly ball. I was surprised how far it went."