Clutch Cuddyer thriving in part-time role
Veteran delivers two-run, pinch-hit single in Mets' 6-5 win over Phils
PHILADELPHIA -- Michael Cuddyer was in the middle of explaining how he's always been adept at pinch-hitting, with most of the opportunities coming early in career, when he paused and started laughing.
"That was a long time ago," the 15-year veteran said.
But the knack for key hits off the bench has not faded. Cuddyer's two-run single in the sixth inning on Tuesday gave the Mets the lead for good in their 6-5 victory over the Phillies, adding to what has been a breakout month back from the disabled list in an otherwise disappointing season.
One batter after the Mets tied things at Citizens Bank Park on Travis d'Arnaud's bases-loaded walk, Cuddyer came to the plate as a pinch-hitter for Noah Syndergaard. He fell into an 0-2 hole before slashing a Jeanmar Gomez sinker up the middle to plate two runs.
"He'll use the whole field," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "In that situation, that's what he did. They got ahead of him and he just put a good swing on it."
The single improved Cuddyer to .352 in 54 career pinch-hit at-bats, including 3-for-11 this season.
It's a role he will need to continue thriving in to contribute to the Mets, who suddenly possess an outfield surplus with Curtis Granderson, Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Lagares and Michael Conforto all playing well. Cuddyer has lost nearly all of his playing time against right-handed pitchers as a result, but could find his niche -- now, and ultimately on the playoff roster -- as a pinch-hitter.
"I definitely feel better, there's no question about that," said Cuddyer, who spent more than two weeks on the DL with an inflamed left knee, but has hit .324 with four extra-base hits in 12 games since his return. "But I wouldn't say that's the only thing. Baseball, you go through these ups and downs. Right now, I'm seeing the ball well and the results are good."