Lagares, buried on the bench behind Cespedes and later Kirk Nieuwenhuis, personified what has been going on with the Mets lately.
These Mets refused to give the Braves that third strike or third out. Sunday’s game was lost – that is L O S T – when Lagares came to bat in the ninth.
He fell behind 1-and-2, fouled off a couple of pitches before lining a ball into the right-center gap Cameron Maybin couldn’t hold after a diving attempt.
Curtis Granderson, who has excelled leading off, drew his second walk of the game, 12th of the month and 83rd of the season. Then Daniel Murphy, who isn’t a power hitter, crushed a game-tying three-run homer.
The three runs the Mets scored in the tenth inning was a formality, and with it, the Mets had their 82nd victory for their first winning season in seven years.
The Mets are on an unconscious roll the past six weeks, or since the deal for Cespedes, and it would be easy for a young player such as Lagares to get down on himself.
Lagares is 5-for-9 this month, with three of those hits coming off the bench. He’s started only one game in September. Those are numbers manager Terry Collins and GM Sandy Alderson will need to evaluate when deciding the postseason roster.
We know the outfielders will include Cespedes, Granderson, Michael Conforto – there’s no way they can even think about not keeping him now – and Michael Cuddyer. If they want a fifth outfielder the candidates are Nieuwenhuis, Lagares and Eric Young.
Nieuwenhuis offers a left-handed bat off the bench and Young gives them speed and a stolen base threat. Lagares offers a right-handed bat – as does Cuddyer – and defense. But, they won’t take out Cespedes for defense in the playoffs.
Where does that leave Lagares? Today he demonstrated his head is still in the game. If not for the playoffs, then for next season.