Collins: Mets need to set table for hot Duda
NEW YORK -- The Mets may have been just two Lucas Duda hits away from being no-hit by the Royals' Johnny Cueto in Game 2 of the World Series, but to manager Terry Collins, the quality of those soft knocks off the slugger's bat might be the key to getting the offense back on track.
Duda has a well-deserved reputation as a streaky hitter, and he is showing signs of catching a run, owning four hits in nine World Series at-bats and batting .500 (8-for-16) over his last four postseason games.
Duda using the opposite field is seen as a good sign by Collins, who says Duda can strap the team on his back when he's swinging well.
"He's got enough power that he can hit the ball out of any part of the park. I just hope he stays hot, because we've got to get a couple other guys hot that we can get on ahead of him, so he can start driving in some runs."
Duda was ice-cold in the National League Division Series and Championship Series, finding himself on the bench for the first game of the NLCS against Cubs lefty Jon Lester. Otherwise, the Mets found it an easy call to stick with a talent who has produced 57 homers and 165 RBIs over the last two seasons.
Their reward came in the NLCS clincher, when Duda went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a homer and five RBIs in Game 4 in Chicago.
Now, they need to ask just a little bit more from the 29-year-old, who has credited coaches Kevin Long and Pat Roessler for helping to minimize and control the timing of a leg kick that supplies much of his power.
"Any time I can help contribute, you feel good about it," Duda said. "I like to hit and continue to work on my timing."
It's a delicate balance, and so Duda opted to take optional batting practice Thursday at Citi Field in hopes of maintaining his swing. Hitting in Queens seems to agree with Duda; he batted .275/.388/.611 at home this year, compared to just .215/.317/.368 on the road.
While the Mets wouldn't be opposed to a patented Duda blast, there's more than one way he can help. Duda contributed two shift-beating hits in Game 1 vs. Kansas City before reaching in Game 2 on an infield single to third baseman Mike Moustakas and adding a flare RBI single that landed in left field.
"I think those balls were just kind of hit perfectly," Duda said. "They weren't hit hard at all. They just kind of found a hole."
Kansas City hasn't been serving up gimmes to many of the Mets' hitters -- Curtis Granderson's Game 1 home run is still New York's only extra-base hit of the Series -- yet Duda knows better than anyone that a hot streak can begin at any time.
"By no means are we done," Duda said. "We've dug ourselves in a little bit of a hole here, but we're used to it. We're used to coming back and fighting back. It should be fun at home."