Báez pulls off unreal slide, hits decisive HR

August 5th, 2021

MIAMI - Javier Báez finds a way to cross the plate one way or another. In Wednesday’s 5-3 win over the Marlins at loanDepot park, snapping the Mets’ three-game skid, Báez scored key runs in very different ways.

His eighth-inning solo homer broke a 3-3 tie and afforded the Mets a little breathing room atop the National League East. Báez jogged around the bases, staring into the Marlins dugout as he rounded third on his trek home. It was carryover tension from Tuesday night.

Earlier, his daring dash from third base in the second inning, coupled with an incredible slide, was truly amazing.

“The slide was early and it was really exciting, but to hit a homer late in the game is the biggest thing for us,” said Báez, who added that his glare was intended for the fans above the Marlins' dugout, and not the team itself. “It was nothing to [the Marlins]. It was to the fans. They were talking trash to me and I was just going back and forth with them.”

Báez, running on contact from third base, should have been an easy out at the plate on Tomás Nido's routine grounder to first base. But although the throw beat him, Báez went headfirst into home. With somewhat of a swim move, pulling back his lead arm in the middle of the slide and leaving nothing else to tag, he extended the Mets' lead to 2-0.

“I just reached my hand, I really don’t know how to explain it,” he said.

Neither could manager Luis Rojas, who marveled at the versatility and athleticism.

“He’s just a special player,” said Rojas, who held a pregame meeting with the struggling club. “Of course the home run to take the lead was the biggest highlight for me, but the slide at home plate was special. He can beat you in so many ways.”

Acquired from the Cubs at the Trade Deadline, Báez pulled off an unfathomable baserunning sequence with Chicago earlier this year. Now, "El Mago" is bringing his show to the contending Mets.

And so is Wednesday's starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco. He didn’t get the decision, but in his second start for New York, Carrasco worked a fairly efficient 4 1/3 innings, giving up five hits and two runs. The right-hander struck out five and reached 96.4 on his fastball, although he relied heavily on his slider -- throwing it 47 percent of the time -- to record eight of 14 swings and misses in a 62-pitch (43 strikes) effort.

“It feels great, all the pitches were good,” Carrasco said.

It was an outing that could encourage Rojas to stretch him out the next time. But that’s something Carrasco said he isn’t concerned about. 

“I just want to go out there and pitch and when it’s time, take me out,” he said.

He had gone 15 1/3 scoreless innings lifetime over his three starts against the Marlins, who finally pushed across a pair of runs against him in the fifth to cut the lead to 3-2. 

A solo home run by Jesús Aguilar, a 394-foot moonshot to left field off Mets reliever Jeurys Familia, tied it in the sixth, but that merely set the stage for more Báez heroics.