By Laura Amato
Jay Bruce has officially arrived in New York.
The brand-new Mets outfielder made his mark on the Subway Series Aug. 4, cracking a three-run homer off Yankees pitcher Nathan Eovaldi to lead his club to a 4-1 victory over the Bombers.
The Mets’ win split the series for the squad and was a personal victory of sorts for Bruce, whose home run was his first hit for the team. It also put him back at the top of the National League’s RBI leaderboard with a whopping 83 runs driven in.
“He’s a good hitter,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “That’s what he can do.”
When the series with the Yankees began, the squads were seemingly playing solely for bragging rights, fresh off trade deadline acquisitions that appeared more focused on the future than on any kind of success this season.
That changed as the weekend progressed.
Bruce settled into his big-hitting role with each at-bat—despite a lack of production—and after the Mets placed Yoenis Cespedes on the DL before the fourth game of the series, the recently acquired outfielder was thrust into the New York spotlight. He hit his stride—quite literally—when he had to and while his final numbers in the series weren’t all that impressive, the importance of Bruce’s homer couldn’t be overstated.
“You look at what he’s done with runners in scoring position, he’s put up huge numbers, and we need that right now,” Collins said. “That’s not just a big hit for us tonight, but for him also. I think it’s big for everybody.”
The series split also helped the Mets find some much-needed August confidence. In fact, after taking down the Yankees in the series finale, the Mets found themselves just one game out of a playoff berth.
All things considered, Collins regarded that as a minor baseball miracle.
“We’re very lucky to be where we are and we’ve got to take advantage of it,” Collins said. “We’re red hot. We’ve got to keep on playing and grinding it out because we’ve got a long way to go yet.”
Now, as the Mets desperately try to get healthy, and maybe keep Cespedes off the golf course, the club is doing its best to maintain this recently recovered confidence.
Nothing is ever guaranteed in baseball, but sometimes you only need one hit to change a game.
“That is kind of the message we’ve been trying to send,” Collins said. “We are in a race, still in a pennant race, whether it’s a wild card or anything else. With all the things that have happened, you’ve got to keep your head up.”