Mets' Jeff McNeil feeling more confident after two-hit game in return to starting lineup

LONDON, UK - After not having played in the past week, Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil was in the thick of the action for Sunday’s London Series finale, as the Mets pulled off a ninth-inning comeback to split the series.

McNeil was the only Met with multiple hits in Sunday’s game as he went 2-for-4 in his return to the lineup.  His one-out hit with a man on base in the top of the ninth put Phillies closer Jose Alvarado under pressure. He eventually came in to score the go-ahead run on Pete Alonso's bases-loaded hit by a pitch. That proved crucial as Drew Smith got out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth to preserve the win thanks to Luis Torrensspectacular double play.

Despite some of his struggles at the plate this year, McNeil is still confident about how he’s seeing and hitting the ball at this stage of the season. Sunday’s game finally saw him profiting from some good fortune.

“I feel like my first two at-bats were my best two swings and I was 0-for-2,” said McNeil, “Then, my last two at-bats, I got a blooper and then was able to sneak one by an infielder.”

“Sometimes you need that to get you going,” he observed after having posted just his fourth multi-hit day in the past month.

McNeil raised his average to .232 on Sunday after having only hit .202 in May. His numbers have fallen off dramatically since he won a batting title in 2022 with a .326 average and he’s even got a long way to go to match last season’s output which saw him hit .270. He’ll be hoping this game was a step in the right direction, though.

For his big hit in the ninth, McNeil initially was planning to bunt against Alvarado, who he admitted he had always found tough to face in the past. However, he ended up hitting a ground ball single to center to spark the late rally.

“I liked where the defense was playing and I knew that I’d probably get a heater in that situation,” said McNeil.

The Mets had been using the veteran Jose Iglesias more at second base in recent games, and he was off to a hot start with nine hits in his first six games with the team, including two in Saturday’s 7-2 loss.

“It’s been tough,” said McNeil, when asked about not having played over the past week. “I want to be in there every single day, I want to contribute, I want to produce.”

One factor in McNeil not playing, which he accepts, was the fact that the Mets faced four straight left-handed starters. The other was the play of Iglesias, who McNeil said has been “playing great”.

Looking ahead, McNeil said he’s excited for the team after they swept the Nationals and earned a split in London, and remains confident because he feels like he’s hitting the ball hard.

“My approach is always to stay up the middle and hit a line drive. That’s what I’m going to try to do and I’m just hoping they start to fall.”