After 2-HR game, Stewart is equally proud of 'D'

Right fielder's bat keys Mets' rout, and his arm helps cut down a runner at home

August 16th, 2023

NEW YORK -- Right fielder  had his best game as a member of the Mets, hitting two homers in New York’s 8-3 victory over the Pirates at Citi Field on Wednesday afternoon.

Before Tuesday’s game, Stewart found himself in an 0-for-14 skid. It didn’t help that he was dealing with inflammation in his right wrist. But starting that night, Stewart was able to get his groove back. He entered the game in the seventh inning and hit his first pinch-hit homer off right-hander Colin Selby in a 7-4 loss.   

On Wednesday, Stewart was the man. There was no score in the second inning when Stewart hit a solo homer over the right-field fence off right-hander Johan Oviedo. Three innings later, Stewart gave New York two more runs with a homer off left-hander Ryan Borucki. It was Stewart’s third career multihomer game and only his second career home run against a lefty.

“When I arrived here, I was trying to be ready whenever my name was called,” Stewart said. “Fortunately, I put some good swings last night and today. Baseball is a tough game. Hopefully, it can continue. I’m going to go out here and be myself every single day.”

But the two-homer game was not what made Stewart’s day. In the fifth inning, Stewart played a role in throwing out Andrew McCutchen at the plate.

With two outs and McCutchen on first, Jack Suwinski doubled down the right-field line. Stewart retrieved the ball in right field and threw to second baseman Jeff McNeil, who made a perfect throw to catcher Omar Narváez to get McCutchen at the plate, ending the inning.

“Everybody talks about the throw and the tag, but the key to the whole play is the right fielder [Stewart] -- get the relay out and get an accurate throw,” manager Buck Showalter said.

Earlier in the season, Stewart was involved in a similar play in left field when he missed the cutoff man. Showalter let him know what he did wrong.

“I overshot the first [cutoff] man, but I hit the second guy. But close plays like that, you want to hit the first guy. It’s the difference between safe and out,” Stewart said. “So today, to execute [the proper throw] and Jeff made a heck of a throw to get [McCutchen] at home, honestly, I’m more proud of that than the home runs.”

Stewart, 29, signed a Minor League contract with the Mets in January because of his familiarity with Showalter, who managed him with the Orioles in 2018.

“Buck knows what I can do when I am healthy. So I’m fortunate for the opportunity and to have him behind me and support me,” Stewart said.

Stewart had a productive Spring Training, going 10-for-27 (.370) with 11 RBIs. But he didn’t make the Opening Day roster, so he honed his skills in the batter's box.

“I’m doing more of a toe tap now,” Stewart said. “In my career, I’ve been the type of guy that doesn't really stride forward. I was having a tough time staying back. We started the toe tap as a drill at Triple-A [Syracuse] with Collin Hetzler, our hitting coach down there. We translated it into the game. I love where it has got me.”

Stewart didn’t get the call to the big leagues until July 4. During his five years with the Orioles, he spent most of his time on the injured list or in the Minor Leagues.

“I love this game and I had injury issues. I know what I’m capable of doing whenever I’m healthy,” Stewart said. “What kept me going was getting back to the big leagues. This game is unbelievable. I don’t take it for granted playing at the big league level. I have a little girl. Diapers are not cheap. That‘s what keeps me going.”