In the Mets’ ideal world, Juan Lagares would not yet be a member of the Mets. The original plan, according to general manager Sandy Alderson, was to have Lagares playing everyday in Triple A acquiring the plate discipline necessary to succeed at the major league level. In the Mets’ ideal world, he would have been patrolling center field at Kino Field in Tucson, Ariz. for the Las Vegas 51s of the Pacific Coast League Friday night. But the organization’s shortage of competent outfielders botched the blueprint two months ago, forcing the club to unexpectedly promote the free-swinging, defensive specialist. So there he was at Citizens Bank Park Friday night, starting in center field and batting seventh in the Mets’ 4-3 win over the Phillies. And, as evidence of his steady progress, Lagares starred. Showcasing his usual expansive range in the outfield, Lagares clubbed two doubles off the free-falling Cole Hamels (2-11, 4.50 ERA), the second of which knocked in the go-ahead RBI. He later added a single to raise his batting average 23 points to .234 on the night. Making his 23rd start of the season, it was Lagares’s first career three-hit effort and the second time he’s recorded two extra-base hits. The 24-year-old now has 15 hits in his last 45 at-bats (.333). “I’ve been playing a little more and when you play a little more, it makes it a little easier to make the adjustments,” Lagares said, speaking in Spanish. Eric Young Jr., in his third game with the Mets, compiled two hits and walked once in five plate appearances. The Piscataway native's two-run single in the second tied the game at three. The production from unexpected sources buoyed Jeremy Hefner to his second win of the season. Hefner (2-6, 3.89 ERA) recovered from a three-run (two earned) second inning to shut the Phillies over the next five innings. Hefner, who has posted a 1.88 ERA over his last four starts, scattered 10 hits over six innings and struck out six to one walk. Scott Rice, Carlos Torres and Bobby Parnell, who earned his 12th save of the season each tossed a scoreless inning to complete the victory for the Mets, who improved to 29-41. The Phillies, losers of two straight, are now 35-39. “I gave up 10 hits, which was kind of disheartening, but a few of those were seeing-eye singles,” Hefner said. “You just kind of discount that a bit.” Lagares’ ample range swiped what would have been more than just a cheap hit in the fifth inning. With the bases loaded, Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz worked a 3-1 count. Knowing Hefner needed to challenge Ruiz Lagares took a few steps back from his usual positioning in center field anticipating a hefty swing from Ruiz. On cue, Ruiz launched a 94-mph fastball over the heart of the plate deep to center field. In a dead sprint, Lagares made the difficult catch with ease a few feet from the warning track to terminate the threat. It was a rare defensive highlight for a club that has regularly had players out of position.
Mets edge Phillies as Juan Lagares records career-high three hits
Newark Star-Ledger | Jun 22