The Mets have one of those seasons where just about everything goes right, the kind of season that happens, oh, once every generation or so.
So it’s no surprise that, after calling for their first big chance of the year, Brett Baty, a sweet swing, super-ranking lefthanded batter, hit a homerun in his first-ever at bat at arch-rival Braves home park.
“Nice swing…we’ve got something here folks,” Keith Hernandez said on SNY.
The Mets made many good decisions, from their expensive free-agent outing with starter Wednesday night, Hall-of-Fame bound Max Scherzer, to hiring long-time friend Buck Showalter as manager to a trade deadline they refused to throw away. to do from one of their very best prospects. That included Baty, their number 2 ranked prospect and number 18 in all baseball.
When they summoned 22-year-old Baty from Triple-A Syracuse, however, they had little choice. Both their big league third basemen, Eduardo Escobar and Luis Guillorme, have hit the injured list in a week of pain. So out of necessity here came Baty, who dominated the Eastern League for Double-A Binghamton before his call up to Syracuse a week ago.
Twenty-two family members and friends trekked from his hometown of Austin, Texas, (according to SNY) to watch Baty flip a curveball from veteran right-hander Jake Odorizzi and send it just over the fence of right field. The two-run home run extended an early lead in the nerve-racking 9-7 victory for the Mets.
Baty’s ascension after very little Triple-A time was a surprise, but his bat doesn’t surprise anyone now. Scouts who went to see Baty at Lake Travis High School, Baker Mayfield’s famous high school, liked what they saw so much that they overlooked his advanced age of 19½. The Mets, never ageists (see Showalter), finished him 12th overall in 2019.
“I went skeptical because of his age and left as a believer in the player, person and batter,” said an American League scout. “I tip my hat to the Mets.”
There’s been a lot of that going around lately. The Mets have one of those seasons where their calls range from prescient to perfect. While the decision to hire Showalter is now being called a “no-brainer,” there was at the very least some heavy discussion and maybe even a bit of disagreement. At this point, it will be a surprise if Showalter doesn’t win his record fourth Manager of the Year award. (Dusty Baker can do the same in that other league.)
In free agency, no one’s record is perfect, but the Mets went four-for-four. That never happens.
One of those free agents, Starling Marte, who hit Odorizzi’s first homer in the Mets’ big start and later hit another homer, is, as advertised, an excellent two-way player and worthy All-Star. And Scherzer, well, he’s just like they saw across the field in the other dugout with the Nationals for the past seven seasons.
He is an unparalleled competitor – although sometimes he is human. This time, he went 6 ¹/₃ innings before losing control in the seventh, throwing a pair, making a throwing error to first place and giving way to Adam Ottavino, who gave up a three-run homer to the recent Braves pick up Robbie Grossman to bring in Atlanta a. The win was the 199th of Scherzer’s career and with 99 losses in his career, he has a chance to become the sixth pitcher to record his 200th win before his 100th defeat (he would join Pedro Martinez, Whitey Ford, Lefty Grove, Juan Marichal and Grover Cleveland Alexander.)
In the first two games in Atlanta, the Mets hit a rare hiccup in the schedule. They were beaten 18-1 and they needed as much profit on Wednesday as they have in a while. They’ve only lost this magical season twice in a row, surviving a terrifying Wednesday before adding three too late – two on Braves killer Pete Alonso’s line-single.
The Mets fellow ace Jacob deGrom has a chance to even the series, and unbelievably, perfectly hold the Mets record of not losing a series in division all year.
Scherzer got quick help through Met’s bats. Francisco Lindor, who easily fulfilled his contract in the second year of the $341 million deal, followed Marte’s first dinger with a homer of his own.
Baty timed Odorizzi’s curve to join Mike Jacobs, Kaz Matsui, Mike Fitzgerald and Benny Ayala as the only Mets to homer in their first at bat. Later, Baty burned a 113 mph off burly lefty Tyler Matzek, but Brave’s shortstop Dansby Swanson turned it into an out.
“He can hit. Smooth swing and occasional pull,” said a National League scout.
“Nice extra-base swing,” the AL scout added.
At first glance, the child looks better than good. With Escobar expected to return in the not-too-distant future, this call may be little more than a cameo. But he must be fun to watch when he’s here.