SAN DIEGO — Eduardo Escobar has taken a long time to warm up this season. But when he became the first Mets player to score for the cycle since 2012, which he did Monday night in his team’s 11-5 win over the San Diego Padres, it seemed like he would never stop batting.
Every time a player scores for the cycle, manager Buck Showalter said, “It’s fun to watch. But mostly him. You know how much he means to his teammates. It’s almost like they hit it.”
Escobar laced a two-run single against Padres starter Blake Snell in the first inning. He hit a double to start the fourth inning against Snell. He hit a two-run home run against reliever Craig Stammen in the eighth and then dramatically conquered the cycle with a two-run triple-off reliever Tim Hill in the ninth.
Corresponding perform statisticsEscobar became the first player in major league history to cycle with a homer in the eighth and a triple in the ninth.
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It was the Mets’ first cycle since Scott Hairston in 2012, and Escobar knew exactly where he was and what he needed the moment he stepped into the box. He said that when the ball landed on right field grass, he still sprinted to third base.
“I was glad he did it,” said shortstop Francisco Lindor. “They don’t come very often.”
“I was really happy with what he did tonight,” said starter Carlos Carrasco, who hit 10 while allowing just two runs over seven innings to lead the Mets to their third win in the first five games of that 10- Position games western journey.
Escobar’s energy is contagious and his personality contagious. Long a popular clubhouse presence in Minnesota, Arizona and Milwaukee, Escobar signed a two-year, $20 million contract with the Mets on Dec. 1, just before the lockout. After a tepid start, Escobar only managed 0.212 in the month of May. But he’s now 20 for 60 (.333) in his last 14 games.
And his last two games are developing even better.
Escobar’s sacrificial fly at the end of a grueling 10 pitch-at-bat in Sunday’s eighth inning in Los Angeles briefly gave the Mets a 3-2 lead before the Dodgers equalized it and the Mets won 5-4 of 10. He fouled during of the at-bat against Brusdar Graterol five pitches, including four in a row, before driving a run home.
“I think his teammates will tell you that yesterday’s batting day might have been one of the best of the year,” Showalter said. “It’s a typical example of the example that everyone is trying to set and follow.”
Then came the series opener on Monday in San Diego and a 4 for 5 night with six RBI. It was the 11th overall cycle in Mets history and the first by a player in Petco Park’s 19-year history.
Escobar credited hitting coach Eric Chavez and his teammates with helping get him through the early-season doldrums as he struggled to get into a groove on the plate. “Your moment is coming,” he said, several told him.
They spoke, of course, in the general sense. But Monday proved to be another special moment in a string of them for the Mets this season.
“It adds to the journey,” Lindor said.
Escobar was greeted with a standing ovation by a small group of Mets fans gathered for an impromptu celebration behind the Petco Park visitors’ shelter.
Yes, Escobar noticed them.
“Great moment,” he said. “It’s incredible.”
Then the dugout exploded upon his arrival when the inning was over.
“Very quietly, he’s getting back to his track record,” Showalter said. “That’s why you trust guys like him who are so well made up and want so much. He’s frustrated, but he never takes it to the field and never to the clubhouse. He is a good example for everyone.
“I think everyone takes a bit of special emotion with them. It was pretty fun in the clubhouse. His statement about ‘I’m proud of you’ all along, they dropped it on him tonight.”