MIAMI — Yoenis Cespedes has a cold. The Mets slugger has battled through fever and flu-like symptoms, a congested nose and sore throat for the last four days. This does not bother Cespedes as much as the fact that he is trying to get through a slump, however.
So when manager Mickey Callaway asks him to sit, Cespedes refuses to take a day off.
Tuesday night that refusal was fortuitous for the Mets.
Despite having gone 0-for- his last eight at-bats in this series, Cespedes pulled a chopper up the line in the ninth, got it past the Marlins third baseman to deliver his second-game winning hit in the last three games.
That was big. He needed it, Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. Hes been feeling terrible and still playing. Ive been asking him Hey Ces do you need a day,…. He didnt want one. So, him not taking a day maybe won us the game today.
The Mets rallied twice Tuesday night to beat the Marlins 8-6 at a nearly empty Marlins Park. That gave them a franchise record 9-1 start to the season and their seventh straight win.
That streak was only kept intact by two of the three hits that Cespedes has managed in his last 24 at-bats. He has struck out 14 times over the last four games.
Still he had a bloop single in the 12th inning to win the game Sunday night in Washington and and the double down the line that scored two in the ninth inning.
There is no doubt the slugger is huge to the Mets lineup, but as we can see from this historic start to the season, it is deeper than it has been in years.
Asdrubal Cabrera hit home runs from both sides of the plate Tuesday night. Wilmer Flores, who has not had many chances so far this season, responded with a double and a home run. Michael Conforto has reached base in all five games he has played this season.
There is a confidence and conviction in this lineup that they will rally that has been missing in previous years. When the Mets rallied twice Tuesday night, it was the 12th time they have scored in the very next at-bat out of the 23 times they have given up a run.
We fight every inning. We fight to comeback, Cabrera said. We have a good team to do it. We never put our head down. We just keep fighting.
So, after years of watching the team lean heavily on its young pitchers have to pitch on a high wire with little run support, the offense is coming up big. It picked up Jacob deGrom after he gave up a three-run lead in the fifth inning.
This is a fun team to be around, they grind out every at-bat and find a way. They did a great job of picking me up there, said deGrom. I feel like were in every ballgame. Come out that inning, they tie it up for me. End up getting the win later on. Very impressive, fun to watch, fun to be a part of.
The offense has been so resilient that a slump that would have crippled the Mets last season is just become a daily battle for Cespedes. Tuesday, he told Callaway he would be in the lineup despite the sore throat and the fact he feels like he can’t breathe through his nose.
The only way I can go out of this slump is taking at bats and go out and playing and doing whatever I do, which is hitting, Cespedes said.
He needs the reps to work on his timing.
When I am not ahead (of the pitch), I am behind, Cespedes said.
In 42 at-bats in 10 games this season, Cespedes has yet to really find a rhythm. He eight hits, including three home runs, with a team-leading 10 RBI.
He said he started to feel out of sick Saturday against the Nationals, which is around when he started to say he felt his timing was off. But, he does not think that is affecting his at-bats.
I dont think its related, a slump comes up as it is supposed to come up, Cespedes said. Everybody goes through that.
When Cespedes goes through one he needs to play. So Wednesday afternoon, Cespedes will walk into the clubhouse and expect to see his name in the lineup whether he has a cold or not.
Why not, Cespedes asked with a smile. I am not tired. I want to play.