Harrison Bader’s clutch double helps Mets rally past Pirates

NEW YORK – This time, Harrison Bader hit the ball hard enough to leave no doubt.

One night after leading the Mets to victory with a 54 mph RBI chopper in the eighth inning of their series finale against the Royals, Bader did it again Monday against the Pirates — but this time, with much more force. His 106.1 mph double broke another tie in the eighth inning, sending the Mets to a 6-3 victory over the Pirates on Jackie Robinson Day at Citi Field.

With this victory, the Mets (8-8) reached .500 for the first time this season. Since starting the campaign 0-5, they have improved to 8-3.

“There’s just no quit on this team right now,” starting pitcher Adrian Houser said.

For the second straight game, the Mets had to wait for their offense, as Martín Pérez matched Houser zero-for-zero over the first five innings. But after Houser and Drew Smith drove in three runs in the top of the sixth, the Mets responded with three of their own off Pérez in the bottom of the inning.

Things remained knotted until the eighth, when Jeff McNeil reached base on a wild pitch, DJ Stewart walked and Bader – after a successful double steal in front of him – plated both runners with his double against his former teammate of the Yankees, Aroldis Chapman. . Unlike Sunday, when Bader had to sprint at full speed down the first-base line, this time he was able to reach second base standing.

“Look, no matter how your team manages to get things done in a situation, they all feel good,” Bader said. “Obviously a double is great.”

Bader has reached base multiple times in five straight games, after starting the season 5 for 26. From top to bottom of this list, this isn’t a unique story. Stewart, who opened the year going 0 for 12, has since contributed several memorable hits, including a double to tie Monday’s game in the sixth.

Brandon Nimmo, McNeil and Francisco Lindor all thawed to varying degrees after the early April slump. Pete Alonso hit .167 in his first 10 games, then followed that up by winning National League Player of the Week.

So it’s no surprise that the Mets — three outs away from going 0-6 — have recently become one of the hottest clubs in baseball.

“I don’t like to say, ‘It’s still early,'” manager Carlos Mendoza said. “I like where we are as a team.”

Back when the Mets were still winless, Mendoza never considered calling a team meeting like Ron Washington did with the Angels. Every situation is different, and while Mendoza is not averse to the idea of ​​such intervention, he prefers one-on-one conversations to convey his messages.

If Mendoza feels he needs to say something to a larger group, he can do so at one of the many small daily pregame meetings held by hitters, pitchers and catchers.

At 0-5, just 3% of the way into the season, Mendoza saw no reason to panic. Things, he knew, could change quickly. So it wasn’t particularly surprising, to him or anyone else in the clubhouse, when this exact scenario happened.

“It’s part of the journey,” Houser said.

Other strong signs exist for the Mets, including the fact that they achieved this success despite one of the toughest opening schedules in MLB. So far, all six of their opponents are above .500, but the Mets still boast a Top 10 rotation and bullpen ERA, as well as one of the best offenses They scored a league-leading 30 runs in the eighth inning or later, including three against Chapman on Monday night.

As Stewart answered questions about his role in the rally, teammate Tyrone Taylor walked by, poked his head into the media scrum and shouted, “Pinch-shot barrels!” I can’t teach it, baby.

Do good vibes follow wins, or do wins result from good vibes? Either way, the Mets are clearly swimming in both.

“We started 0-5, and now we’re at .500,” Stewart said. “We will never give up. We will continue to push every day. We are a tight-knit group in this clubhouse. Everyone can doubt us all they want, but we know what we have here and we are happy with what we have. So we will continue. »

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