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Baxter's key hustle doesn't go unnoticed

NEW YORK -- Long before Jordany Valdespin made the Mets winners Wednesday with his walk-off grand slam against the Dodgers in the 10th, the chatter on the dugout bench was about Mike Baxter. It was Baxter who had come through with a clutch pinch-hit in the ninth, then stretched it into a double when he noticed Carl Crawford hesitate in fielding the ball.

Baxter's hustle led directly to David Wright's game-tying hit, which allowed Valdespin to come through an inning later with the bases loaded.

"As you sat in the dugout last night, listening to the guys talk about when Baxter taking the extra base, how important that is they pay attention," manager Terry Collins said. "Now can we string it over 162? That's how you win. That ultimately is how you win games and how you get yourself in position for the postseason. We've got a long, long way to go."

When he arrived at second base, Baxter leapt up and clapped his hands excitedly, an out-of-character gesture for the normally reserved outfielder.

"Sometimes I get excited when the play gets close," Baxter said, laughing. "As you're getting closer, you know it's going to be a close play. That was a rare show of emotion there."

As for Valdespin, the Mets' other left-handed pinch-hitter was still basking in the afterglow of his game-winner the next morning, perusing a stack of local newspapers at his locker. Valdespin joked that he planned to take pictures of himself with the newspapers and post them on the internet.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo.
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