After losing shoe earlier, Gomez hits clutch HR

Outfielder belts go-ahead 3-run shot in 8th to help Mets sweep Nats

May 23rd, 2019

NEW YORK -- took the long way to the Mets, signing with them as a teenager, debuting in 2007 and playing for five other teams before making his way back to the organization on a Minor League deal this spring.

By that time, the Mets were nearly done stockpiling position-player depth in a way they hadn’t in years. came to the team on a similar contract, taking 13 seasons of experience with him to the clubhouse in Port St. Lucie, Fla. , like Gomez, was a spring signing. For new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, the idea was to collect Major League veterans who could contribute should things go wrong.

Things have gone wrong for the Mets, no doubt about that. Things have gone so wrong that following a three-game sweep in Miami last weekend and an unhappy flight home, Van Wagenen held a press conference in part to affirm his support for manager Mickey Callaway. Already playing without one of their top hitters, , the Mets then lost , and to injury in rapid succession.

And so they turned to the stockpile of depth -- to Davis, who hit a crucial three-run home run on Wednesday, and to Gomez, who blasted a go-ahead three-run shot Thursday in a 6-4 win over the Nationals to cap a four-game sweep. The Mets scored the go-ahead run in their final turn at bat for the third consecutive game, matching a feat they last accomplished in 2013.

“You’re not capable of doing what we’ve done this series without great depth,” Callaway said, his voice hoarse from yelling throughout the week. “When everybody sat down in the offseason and talked through it, that’s what we needed. We needed great depth. And not just the depth that’s going to be on your Major League roster, but the depth that’s going to be in Triple-A. Those guys are coming up and really helping us out.”

Signed late in spring and then delayed by a visa issue, Gomez was never a candidate to crack the Mets’ Opening Day roster. Instead, he thrived at Triple-A Syracuse for a time, corroborating his years-long reputation for clubhouse enthusiasm, and eventually debuted last weekend after Conforto suffered a concussion.

Within days, Gomez became the Mets’ starting right fielder -- circumstances that made him important in the eighth inning Thursday, after the Mets twice took and gave back leads to the Nationals. led off the inning with a pinch-hit double, then, following a pair of strikeouts, the Nats elected to intentionally walk .

Not expecting to bat so quickly, Gomez strode to the plate without going through his usual routine of deep breaths and practice swings using a weighted donut. Instead, he tightened his batting gloves, took a couple of strikes, then drilled a belt-high Wander Suero cutter over the left-center-field fence. It was his first Mets home run since June 25, 2007.

“I’m blessed,” Gomez said. “To come back here in this situation and play the way we’ve been playing right now with a lot of energy, I’m enjoying every single time.”

A few locker stalls down, Smith shouted out, “Ye! Ye! Ye!” in reference to Gomez’s happy exclamation upon rejoining the Mets last week. The whole scene stood in stark contrast to Sunday in Miami, where the Mets lost three straight to the league’s worst team to put their manager’s job in jeopardy.

Now, they have won four in a row, moving back within 4 1/2 games of the National League East lead. It’s hardly a perfect situation; the Mets are still missing Conforto, Cano, Nimmo and McNeil, most of them for the considerable future. But unlike in years past, they’re not trying to patch those holes with career Minor Leaguers.

“We’re all professionals,” Gomez said. “We’ve all played a long time at this level and we know what we can contribute.”

Shoeless Carlos
Not everything went according to plan for Gomez, who lost his left shoe after stealing second base in the fifth. As catcher Yan Gomes’ throw sailed into center, Gomez scrambled to his feet and bolted for third, losing his cleat in the process.

He made it there safely, however, eventually scoring the Mets’ first run on ' sacrifice fly.

“My left foot is smaller than the right, so I had to tie that left shoe really tight,” Gomez said. “And when I ran, I went too fast.”

Diaz slams the door … eventually
Despite his recent proclamation that he will consider using for more than three outs per night, Callaway did not warm his closer as the Nationals constructed a go-ahead rally against in the eighth. Gsellman allowed three runs, but Diaz did not stir until the Mets began rallying ahead of Gomez’s three-run homer in the bottom of the inning. Diaz worked a perfect ninth with two strikeouts for his 12th save.

Asked about his decision to stick with Gsellman, Callaway noted that Diaz had pitched both Monday and Tuesday, then warmed on Wednesday without entering the game.

“That was easy today,” Callaway said. “It wasn’t even an option because he pitched twice and then got up last night. When he’s rested, we’ll be able to do that, but we can’t push him to more outs when he’s been taxed pretty good the past three days.”