After an uninspiring first-game effort against the Dodgers on Tuesday and then failing to do much in Matt Harvey’s so-so start(at least by Harvey standards) to begin Wednesday night’s affair, the Mets appeared on the verge of dropping their second straight game to the Dodgers.
The Mets were listless offensively for eight innings and were trailing the Dodgers 3-2 heading into the ninth inning.
With the Mets running the bases loaded with one out in the 10th inning, Valdespin was given the chance to play hero (Actually, Valdespin had a chance to come through in the clutch in the 8th inning. With two outs and a chance to tie the game, Valdespin, however, swung at the first pitch and promptly grounded out to first base). At this time, all that was needed, though, was just a sacrifice fly. So, when Valdespin saw a 2-1 fastball thrown by the Dodgers’ Josh Wall, he lined up and socked it to right field with it sailing all the way out of the ball park.
Euphoria then ensued.
Mets’ SNY field reporter Kevin Burkhardt interviewed Valdespin after the game and asked him what many Mets’ fans were thinking: “Is he the man right now?”
Confidently, Valdespin obliged and indeed said what all wanted him to say: he was the man.
For a guy who had a game-winning home run off the Phillies’ closer Jonathan Papelbon last season, Valdespin has this late-game heroics thing down pat. (BTW, this marks the second year in a row that Valdespin’s first home run of the year came in a game-winning fashion)
Can this walk-off grand slam lead to bigger and better things? Is this the confidence booster Valdespin needs to get going?
Well, that depends on if Terry Collins takes the training wheels off Valdespin and lets him play every day. It’s high time that Collins and the Mets finally put their trust in this gifted albeit mercurial talent.
After all, Valdespin is hitting and doing a decent job on the field. Sure, he can struggle against lefties, but Valdespin at the minimum should be in there every day against righties and batting leadoff. Valdespin offers the Mets with a guy who could go deep at a moment’s notice while also having the capability to swipe the occasional bag (Valdespin does sport three stolen bases). Outside of Wright, no one has that dual-threat capability.
Valdespin can often come across cocky, but you can’t question the passion this kid has for the game. Collins said during spring training that Valdespin has become a more mature ballplayer and it’s time Collins reward that maturity with more playing time.
With the Mets getting unproductive seasons from Marlon Byrd, Collin Cowgill and Mike Baxter and with recent call-up Juan Lagares a complete unknown, Valdespin is one of the better outfielders the Mets can rely on. He definitely possesses the most upside. Plus, Valdespin can man the middle infield spots in a pinch.
Collins has done enough mixing and matching with the outfield already. He should know by now what works. And with Valdespin delivering in the clutch once again, it’s time Collins makes Valdespin the “man” on a permanent basis.
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