Duda smashing his way out of slump
NEW YORK -- Now more than ever, the Mets need stability. They crave consistency, as trade rumors leave players in tears and the offense goes through dry stretches.
On Wednesday night, Lucas Duda provided that stability. He hit three home runs in the Mets' 7-3 loss to the Padres, furthering his progression out of a two-month slump.
It began in in the second inning. With the Mets already trailing, 4-0, Duda sent a high, looping fly ball into the right-field stands to put them on the scoreboard.
Duda came through once again in the sixth, as social media was flooded with news of a reported deal for Carlos Gomez that didn't come to pass, with a line drive to right-center that cleared the wall.
"Our main goal is to win every night," Duda said. "That's our main objective. It doesn't matter what you do, or how it goes for yourself."
Duda spent the next two innings watching Wilmer Flores, who believed he had been traded to Milwaukee, struggle with his emotions. Then, in the ninth, with the Mets out of the game, he sent his third homer of the game just inside the right-field foul pole and became the second player in the Mets' 53-year history to hit three home runs in a home game, joining Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who did it just 17 days ago.
The three homers gave Duda six in his past four contests, a sure-fire way to break out of a slide that's devastated his batting average.
After Duda hit two home runs against the Phillies on May 27, he was hitting .305 with eight homers through 47 games and appeared on pace to replicate his excellent 2014 season.
Then he hit just .174 over his next 50 games. The power was still there -- he hit eight more home runs over that stretch -- but the overall production wasn't.
But manager Terry Collins never lost faith, calling the slump an unfortunate, unproductive stretch to which all players fall victim and continuing to slot Duda into the lineup.
"He's the one guy in the lineup that you said, 'He's going to get it going,'" Collins said. "Last year, when he finally got the job, he was just doing OK, and all of a sudden, he took off. That's what we're seeing right now, a guy who's locked in."
All summer long, Duda has said that there's nothing different about his swing. He hasn't revealed any adjustments, mental or physical, that caused the slump in the first place or have broken him out of it. It's just been a continued effort to make good swings, he said.
"I've been seeing the ball much better than I have in the past," Duda said. "It's just one of those days."