We can debate the merits of hitting home runs – which manager Terry Collins labels is his team – or if is better to string together hits and walks.
The Mets kept the line moving in the third, scoring eight runs before Yoenis Cespedes capped their 12-run third inning, the largest in franchise history, with a grand slam in a 13-1 rout of the San Francisco Giants.
While both attacks have their upside, what has also been essential to the Mets’ April success has been the consistency of their batting order. In previous seasons rarely did the Mets go back-to-back in consecutive games with the same order.
It wouldn’t be unusual for them to have six different lineups in a week. Not this year. So far, in 21 games the Mets started the following:
No. 1: Curtis Granderson, 20 games.
No. 2: David Wright, 17 games.
No. 3: Michael Conforto: 13 games.
No. 4: Lucas Duda: 11 games.
No. 5: Neil Walker: 13 games.
No. 6: Conforto and Walker: 7 games each.
No. 7: Asdrubal Cabrera: 13 games.
No. 8: Travis d’Arnaud: 8 games.
No. 9: Pitcher: 21 games.
“A lot of good things are happening right now,” Collins told reporters. “I like our lineup.”
Cespedes has been the No. 3 hitter eight times, but that changed after Conforto was moved to the third spot. Cespedes has also been the cleanup seven times. As the season progresses, Cespedes will get the lion’s share of starts hitting cleanup, with Duda batting more in the fifth spot and Walker hitting sixth.
“He’s a great player,” Collins said of Cespedes. “He takes the pressure off everybody.”
When an offense juggles its lineup on a regular basis there’s little chance to develop consistency. However, so far this April you can see where Collins has benefitted with a steady batting order.
Such things are conducive to hitting tears and winning streaks, such as the Mets are on now.
METS GAME WRAP
Game: #21 Record: 14-7 Streak: W 7
SUMMARY: Steven Matz pitched out of early trouble, which seemed like a big deal at the time, but it was dwarfed by the Mets’ 12-run third inning, the largest in the 55-year history of the franchise.
KEY MOMENT: The Giants had chances in the first and third to do damage against Matz, who pitched out of it and coasted for six scoreless innings.
THUMBS UP: Cespedes drove in six runs in the third with a two-run single and grand slam. … Two more hits by Conforto. … Also two hits by Cespedes, Walker and Cabrera. … More solid relief pitching. … They were 9-for-16 with runners in scoring position.
THUMBS DOWN: Why was David Wright still in the game with the Mets having a 13-1 lead in the seventh? Why did he play all nine innings on a cold and damp night? He should have been taken out after the third. Collins said he didn’t consider pulling Wright, saying he wanted to get him at-bats against Giants’ lefty relievers Steven Okert and Javier Lopez in preparation to facing Madison Bumgarner Sunday. … Even so, Wilmer Flores needed to play somewhere. … Mets pitchers walked six. … As long as the Mets count pitches, it will be an issue: Matz has to do better than throwing 110 pitches in six innings.
EXTRA INNINGS: Cespedes has at least one extra-base hit in nine straight games. … Matz is 7-1 lifetime in his short career. … Friday’s game was the first of 17 straight without an off day. … The Mets have hit 31 homers in April. The club record is 33 in 2006. … Conforto has reached base in 16 straight games. … The bullpen has given up three runs in the last seven games.
QUOTEBOOK: “We were not missing the mistake pitches and were having fun out there. When we’re having fun, it’s easy.’’ – Conforto on the Mets’ historic third inning.
BY THE NUMBERS: 45: Duration of the Mets’ 12-run third inning in minutes. Fifteen Mets went to the plate.
NEXT FOR METS: The second game of this series is Saturday afternoon, with the Giants’ Matt Cain (0-2, 6.43) going against Jacob deGrom (2-0, 1.54). On Sunday, Bumgarner (2-2, 3.64) starts against Noah Syndergaard (2-0, 1.69).