NEW YORK -- The calendar now firmly turned to May, the Mets are hoping to play on fewer afternoons like Wednesday. Which isn't to lament their power-fueled 8-0 rout of the Braves, but more the misty, chilly, early-spring conditions they endured at Citi Field to do so. Now after bundling through a nine-game homestand, the Mets set off for the sun-soaked shores of San Diego, with one of their most important hitters heating up as well.
That Lucas Duda shows power to all fields, as he did so twice Wednesday, homering both to right-center field and to left-center, serves as an indicator to his manager that he's starting to catch fire. Duda has quietly accumulated 79 homers over the last three-plus seasons (a higher home run-per-game rate than Yoenis Cespedes), but so often those homers have come only in bunches.
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Twenty of Duda's 27 home runs last season came courtesy of three separate hot streaks: six in a seven-game stretch in May; nine in an historic eight-game stretch between July and August; and another three-game stretch in September over which he hit five. Duda hit just seven homers in 117 other games.
This season, Duda launched his first three homers on three consecutive April days. His two Wednesday give him three over his last three games once again, prompting a seize-the-moment mindset in Mets manager Terry Collins while Duda's bat stays aflame. For how long, nobody knows.
"When he goes on these runs, he can hit them to any part of the park," Collins said. "I think that's going to help him out. Even on a day like today, going to left-center field like that is big. I just hope he stays hot, because he can carry you."
"I'm seeing the ball pretty well right now and putting the barrel on it and it's leaving the park," Duda said. "It was kind of an odd day. It was raining. I didn't think the ball was carrying very well. But they left the yard. I'll take them any way I can get them."