Jay Bruce hit clean-up, started in right field and hit two home runs Monday to power the Mets to a 4-3 win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Bruce's second home run of the night -- and his third in the past two games -- broke a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning when he drove Joely Rodriguez's 1-2 pitch over the right-field fence to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.
"I want to be a good player," Bruce said after the game. "I want to help this team win. I believe that we have a legitimate chance to win a World Series and I just want to be one of the pieces to the puzzle."
Bruce, who is hitting .304 with a .448 OBP and .870 slugging through seven games, is tied for the major league lead with four home runs this season.
"I haven't seen it like this," Collins said of Bruce's power. "I'm just glad it's right now because we're not swinging the bats as a cumulative team."
Bruce hit just .219 with a .294 OBP, .391 slugging, 8 HR and 19 RBI during his first 42 games for the Mets after being acquired at the trade deadline for 2B prospect Dilson Herrera.
However, during his final eight games last season, during which the Mets were fighting for a Wild Card spot, he hit .480 with four HR and eight RBI.
"Last year, he started a little bit slow with us, but I know what kind of player he is," Asdrubal Cabrera said after Monday's game, according to MLB.com. "The player he is right now is the player he's been all his career."
Dating back to Sept. 24, 2016, Bruce is batting .395 with eight HR, two doubles and 14 RBI during the team's last 15 games, including the first seven games played this season.
Well, he can clearly handle New York, so I hope that argument is over. That said, as awesome as he's been of late, I still see Bruce as a one-dimensional player. So, if he's hot and doing what he does best, which is hit home runs like he's doing right now, I have no issue with him batting clean-up.
In fact, I like the idea of Terry using the clean-up spot as a rotating honor, so to speak, highlighting his hottest hitter, but also aiming to capitalize on a power streak.
Obviously, Jose Reyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Yoenis Cespedes will keep hitting 1-2-3. However, when it comes to the other guys are on fire (Bruce, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, even Travis d'Arnaud), sure, go ahead, bat him fourth.
Apr 10, 2017; Yoenis Cespedes (left) Curtis Granderson (3) and right fielder Jay Bruce (19) celebrate after defeating the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Right now, while Jose Reyes and Yoenis Cespedes are nowhere to be found, it's Bruce that is essentially carrying the team, which is something most Mets fans never expected to be saying...
Last August and most of September, he was making terrible guesses and swinging hard at everything. However, since mid-September last year, and more so now, he's been far more patient and locked in on certain pitches. More important, he's being smart and flexible.
For instance, during his at-bat in the eighth inning, he looked silly swinging at a nice slider early in the count. He didn't press, though, which is what he was doing last August.
Instead, he took a pitch, as well as a deep breath, he choked up, reduced his zone, shortened his swing (believing he wouldn't be duped again), made quick contact with two strikes and jacked it out of the park. Again, Bruce last August would have hacked at that slider and missed. Today, he's being patient and last night it clearly paid off...