Mets break out with 5 homers, crush Braves

May 30th, 2021

NEW YORK -- Entering this season, the Mets probably figured they would produce a few five-homer games over the course of the summer. This lineup was built to mash -- one of the best in the National League. The Mets were constructed to put up gobs of runs.

They just never envisioned it happening like this.

The five players to homer in their 13-2 rout of the Braves on Saturday -- James McCann, Jonathan Villar, Brandon Drury, Billy McKinney and Francisco Lindor -- represent the myriad sources the Mets have turned to for offense throughout their injury-laden spring. Two of those players are high-priced veterans the Mets acquired over the winter. One is an extra piece who wound up fitting quite snugly on the roster. Two are lesser-known veterans just looking for their shot.

Combined, they are the patchwork 2021 Mets, who continue to build their first-place lead in the NL East despite everything that has gone wrong for them.

“It was really nice,” McCann said. “It’s taken us a while to put up a game like this.”

McCann starred in the blowout win, homering in the first inning en route to his first four-hit game as a Met. But he was far from the only one. The Mets rapped out 13 hits in total against Braves pitching, including the biggest blow: McKinney’s three-run homer in the sixth, which turned the game into a rout.

“A lot of guys put really good swings tonight,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “That’s something that we haven’t had.”

Here is the story of each of the Mets’ season-high five home runs:

James McCann
First inning, solo home run

Lindor’s season-long slump has done wonders to ease pressure off McCann, the Mets’ second-most expensive offseason acquisition ($40.6 million), who entered Saturday’s play with a .197 average and .536 OPS. Although the Mets didn’t expect the same type of offensive production out of McCann that they did from Lindor, they had reason to believe his offensive breakout of the past two seasons -- a .276/.334/.474 slash line with the White Sox -- was real.

Over the first two months of this season, McCann has looked the part only rarely, but Saturday was his finest offensive game by far. In addition to the homer, McCann collected a double in the third inning and singles in the fifth and sixth, scoring three runs and driving home two.

“McCann, you’ve got to single him out,” Rojas said. “You’ve got to talk about McCann having his best offensive game with us so far.”

Jonathan Villar
Fifth inning, solo home run

When the Mets signed Villar to a $3.55 million deal late this offseason, reaction to the deal vacillated between skepticism and confusion. The Mets already had everyday stalwarts at all three of Villar’s best defensive positions. What’s more, they employed a bright young backup, Luis Guillorme, who had done enough to warrant a healthy dose of playing time.

Then J.D. Davis, Jeff McNeil and Guillorme all hit the injured list, and Villar became one of the stickiest bits of glue holding this Mets season together. He homered on Saturday, came within several feet of two other homers, and even made a highlight-reel dive at third base back when this was a close game. Villar is now second on the team with five homers and (less surprisingly) first with five stolen bases -- the other element of his game that the Mets value.

“I just waited for my moment, waited for my opportunity,” Villar said through an interpreter. “I know the type of player that I am. I know what I’m capable of doing. I just wanted to have that opportunity to help the team win.”

Brandon Drury
Sixth inning, two-run home run

Drury represents the type of player that would only see the field for the Mets if multiple, significant things went wrong. Signed this winter to a Minor League deal, Drury had no clear path to playing time despite his defensive versatility. Then, as in Villar’s case, nearly everyone ahead of him on the depth chart shifted to the injured list. Suddenly, Drury found himself in Flushing with a chance to contribute.

He’s made the most of it, homering twice in seven games despite erratic playing time even in his new situation. Drury’s home run on Saturday was the quirkiest of the night for the Mets, with a 43-degree launch angle -- a towering shot that just cleared the left-field fence.

Billy McKinney
Sixth inning, three-run home run

If Drury was the Mets’ break-glass-in-case-of-emergency option, then McKinney was the nuclear option. So stretched thin were the Mets that they were essentially forced into making a trade, acquiring McKinney earlier this week from the Brewers for Minor League pitcher Pedro Quintana.

It’s not that McKinney featured little upside -- the former first-round pick actually had plenty. It’s just that he arrived here because of injuries to four different Mets outfielders, including two of their three starters. And McKinney, like Drury, is making the most of the chance.

“We know we’ve got a lot of injuries right now, but every guy that’s come in that we’ve acquired or came up from the Minors … has all done [his] part,” Walker said. “That’s what makes teams great.”

Francisco Lindor
Seventh inning, two-run home run

This is the homer with perhaps the most intriguing future implications. Before Saturday’s game, Lindor spoke about his comfort level at the plate, identifying an at-bat on Thursday in which he felt as locked in as at any point this season. Lindor struck out but drew positives from the experience, which he carried into Saturday’s game. Then, following an infield hit in the fifth inning, Lindor struck a 396-foot homer to center -- yet another sign that he could be ready to blossom at the plate.

Rojas pointed to the fact that unlike Lindor’s previous three homers, this one was to the middle third of the field.

“For him to stay in the gaps and to take a couple of swings in that direction, I think it says a lot right now that he’s in a better place,” Rojas said. “You can see him coming now, up-and-coming with his approach. A lot of good things are going to happen if he stays like that.”