Big flies once again the main story for Mets

April 20th, 2017

NEW YORK -- got a curtain call, a crown and a robe.

All that, and a little more understanding that the Mets right fielder can handle playing in New York, after all. His two home runs Wednesday gave the Mets a 5-4 win over the Phillies, and did more to put the second half of 2016 behind him.

Bruce wasn't good after the Mets got him from the Reds in an Aug. 1 trade, but he's been very good in the opening weeks of this season. The home runs Wednesday were his fifth and sixth, and his five RBIs gave him a team-high 14.

"He told me this spring, 'I'm the player you traded for,'" Mets manager Terry Collins said. "And he is."

He's the kind of player who can carry a team when he's hot, as he showed regularly in nine seasons in Cincinnati. He certainly carried the cold Mets' offense Wednesday, as they tried to end a four-game losing streak.

"I don't believe in must-win games in April, but it was good to get this one," Bruce said.

It wasn't an easy one for the Mets to get. They trailed 2-0 before Bruce's three-run home run off Vince Velasquez in the sixth inning, and they watched the Phillies tie the game, 3-3, before Bruce's two-run homer off in the eighth.

The two home runs were similar, although one came off a changeup and the other off a fastball. According to Statcast™, the first one left the bat at 108.3 mph with a 21-degree launch angle, while the second was 105.4 mph with a 22-degree launch angle.

The second home run brought Bruce his first Citi Field curtain call. It also got him the crown and robe the Mets award to the best player in their wins.

"The ball hadn't really been bouncing our way," Bruce said, pointing to recent close games but also to ' broken-bat, game-tying single off in the top of the eighth.

It didn't help that it was a cold, damp night -- one not conducive to hitting home runs. hit a long drive that just stayed in the park in the second inning, and the Mets extended a scoreless streak to 14 innings before Bruce's first home run.

"Homers, more homers," Collins had said Wednesday afternoon when someone asked what the Mets needed. "We are a fly ball-hitting team. We are not a ground ball-hitting team by any means."

Bruce is a hitter who can provide some of that power, even though he showed little of it in his first weeks with the Mets. He homered just twice while hitting .183 last August, and even though he hit six home runs in a much-better September, he didn't come close to meeting the expectations the Mets had at the time of the trade.

There was plenty of talk the Mets would trade Bruce, after they re-signed . They didn't, and he came to Spring Training determined to do better.

"I just wanted to get the season started," he said. "I love to play."

When he plays the way he has this month, the Mets and their fans love to watch him.