Cuddyer's chipped tooth no worry after 'big win'
'We were really resilient,' left fielder says after Mets rally
NEW YORK -- Even celebration is proving dangerous for these Mets. Michael Cuddyer showed that after walking off with Thursday's 5-4 Mets win not with a disabled list announcement -- but with a smile.
After being mobbed by his teammates near second base, Cuddyer grinned again, moments after his ninth-inning single off Sergio Romo salvaged what had previously been a disastrous series for New York. Within that smile, a ragged edge, as the bottom of his top-left front tooth was chipped, courtesy of a stray helmet flung somewhere in the pandemonium after Cuddyer's biggest hit with the Mets to date.
And no, Cuddyer is not expected to miss any time.
"But I do have to go to a dentist," he said.
Cuddyer's first-walk off hit since 2006 came on a night the Mets ran with him. The Mets' biggest offseason signing has warmed up slowly, quietly hitting in 14 of his last 15 games. But Thursday he erupted. He hit the ball hard four times, with two line drives falling for go-ahead hits. Cuddyer's RBI double to right center broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth. He sprayed his ninth-inning single off Romo up the middle to give the Mets a win they knew they needed.
"Big for the team, big for me," Cuddyer said. "Big win."
It hadn't been the easiest week in Queens. As manager Terry Collins told his friend John Smoltz before the game: "We just got no-hit and my star pitcher just got his brains beat out. Our best two hitters are on the DL and we have 14 others to join them. How do you think I'm doing?"
Collins told that story after the game and added: "So it was a big win for us."
The Giants dominated the first two games of the series by playing an almost flawlessly fundamental brand of baseball. The Mets overcame that Thursday despite not being perfect themselves, and twice fought back from deficits that in the past had appeared challenging to overcome.
For the second straight day, New York's starter allowed two first-inning runs. The Mets fought back with a run in the fourth -- expedited by Cuddyer fielder's choice -- and two in the fifth.
In the sixth, starter Jon Niese appeared to be out of a clean inning with a lead when Justin Maxwell grounded to third with two outs. But third baseman Eric Campbell bobbled the ball, extending the inning. Niese surrendered a go-ahead home run to Brandon Crawford in the next at-bat.
Again, the Mets fought back. Two innings later, Curtis Granderson's RBI single tied the game at 4-4 against reliever Hunter Strickland.
New York's ninth-inning rally came with its short bench near empty. Cuddyer's hit only came after Juan Lagares' would-be game-winner was stopped by a sliding play by Giants second baseman Joe Panik.
But the Mets were able to get another one through.
"That's what was impressive about tonight's win. We were really resilient," Cuddyer said. "We got down and were able to come back against their bullpen, which has been tough all year. That speaks volumes about our resiliency, and that's nice."
And an injury scare finally turned out to be just that. Smiles have been hard to come by here lately, jagged or otherwise.