BALTIMORE -- Most afternoons, Kevin Plawecki heads out of the Mets' clubhouse and into the heat for a catching session with third-base coach Glenn Sherlock, who has been schooling the backstop on his throwing footwork. The Mets are pleased with Plawecki, whom they feel has improved, slowly bringing his pop times closer to the league average.
Following one recent such session, Plawecki returned to the dugout and playfully bemoaned the other half of his game: an offensive profile that, entering Wednesday's 16-5 win over the Orioles at Camden Yards, included a .115 August batting average and just three home runs on the season.
The Mets have made it no secret that they consider the rest of this season an audition for Plawecki, who could enter next year as their starting catcher. So it was with attentive eyes that they watched Plawecki hit a grand slam in their victory, capping an outburst that also saw Brandon Nimmo collect five hits and Todd Frazier drive home four runs.
"I'm not going to look at it as a do-or-die situation, because then you put added pressure on yourself and the game's already hard enough," Plawecki said. "I'm just going to prepare, keep having good at-bats and just play hard, and let the chips fall as they may."
The Mets were in the midst of a nine-run, 12-batter sixth inning when Plawecki stepped to the plate against Evan Phillips, Baltimore's third pitcher. He took two balls high and a strike down the middle, before bashing a 92-mph fastball over the left-field wall for a grand slam.
Among those who scored on the play was Frazier, who also doubled, homered and singled to extend his hitting streak to eight games. Frazier's performance topped everyone but Nimmo, whose career-high five hits included two doubles and a triple, making an easy night for Mets starter Zack Wheeler (five innings, one run).
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With the victory, the Mets split their two-game series against the team with baseball's worst record.
"You can go up and down the lineup right now and see guys stepping up, attacking pitches, squaring balls up," Frazier said. "A lot of loud noises today."
In terms of run production, Plawecki's slam seemed almost a footnote to all that other offense, but it was critical for a Mets club that sees him as a long-term solution at catcher. With Travis d'Arnaud potentially still sidelined at the start of next season, Devin Mesoraco heading for free agency and no prospect distinguishing himself at the upper levels of the Minors, Plawecki is the organization's one sure thing. Yes, Yasmani Grandal and Wilson Ramos are tempting free agents, but at the least, the Mets plan to count on Plawecki in a backup role.
With that in mind, they are starting him in roughly two-thirds of their games down the stretch, hoping to get a better handle on his true abilities. Now 27 years old -- he's no longer a prospect -- with a .630 career OPS, Plawecki must use the time to his advantage.
"Any time you put the jersey on it's an opportunity," Plawecki said. "It's always been the same to me, to try to go out there and compete, and be the best player that I can."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Rally sparker: Nimmo was already 3-for-3 when he stepped to the plate with two men in scoring position and one out in the sixth. Tripling to left to drive home both runners, Nimmo later crossed home on a wild pitch for the second of his three runs scored. He finished a career-best 5-for-5, also reaching on a hit-by-pitch to extend his on-base streak to nine consecutive plate appearances.
"It's a positive. It's moving in the right direction," said Nimmo, who recently emerged from a 36-game stretch in which he batted .172. "I definitely found a lot of barrels tonight, and that's what we were going for."
When Austin Jackson and Jose Reyes both tripled in the fourth, it marked the first time the Mets hit multiple triples in an inning since Eric Young and Marlon Byrd did it on July 8, 2013. Reyes' triple was the 129th of his career, tops among active players.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Entering as a pinch-runner in the sixth, Jack Reinheimer singled up the middle two innings later for his first career hit. Reinheimer, whom the Mets claimed off waivers last month, went 0-for-5 during a brief stint in the Majors last year for the D-backs.
HE SAID IT
"The old Zack reared his ugly head today. … You're going to have those kinds of outings once or twice a year. … I think that was a good start after the second, sort of just figuring out what I was doing wrong and fixing it on the fly. I don't know if I would have been able to do that in the past." -- Wheeler, on his outing
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
It seemed as if Reyes' 360-degree spin-and-throw in the second inning would go for nothing more than style points when umpire Manny Gonzalez ruled that Timothy Beckham beat the ball to first base. But Mets manager Mickey Callaway successfully challenged, taking a leadoff hit away from Beckham.
A rainout earlier this year turns the Mets' upcoming series against the Phillies into a five-game affair. The teams will start the set with a twi-night doubleheader Thursday at Citizens Bank Park, with Corey Oswalt starting the opener and Steven Matz coming off the disabled list to handle the nightcap. Ranger Suarez will start Game 1 followed by Zach Eflin in Game 2 for the Phillies. Game 1's first pitch is set for 4:05 p.m. ET, and can be seen exclusively on Facebook.