Little more than a week after enduring his darkest moment as a member of the Mets, Asdrubal Cabrera replicated perhaps his brightest, hitting a clutch homer Saturday to give the Mets a 7-6 victory over the Phillies.
Cabrera has made good on his vow to perform after a fit of anger prompted him to ask for a trade, fallout from a surprise move from shortstop to second base. Just as he did against the Phillies in the heat of a pennant race last September, a moment memorialized in a bobblehead doll given out to fans Saturday, Cabrera lifted the Mets with one big swing.
This time his two-run homer capped a four-run rally in the seventh, which began with the Mets trailing 6-3 after the Phillies’ Tommy Joseph hammered a three-run shot off struggling reliever Fernando Salas.
“I’ve got my mind here,” said Cabrera, who has since softened his stance about a trade.
After a 57-minute rain delay halted play in the eighth, closer Addison Reed slammed the door for the Mets by recording the last four outs. That included a scare in the ninth, when Aaron Altherr just missed a tying homer.
“These are the games when you have to say to yourself, ‘We’re not out of it,’ ” said Terry Collins, who has overseen the makings of a turnaround.
A humiliating four-game sweep by the Dodgers prompted Mets brass to signal their openness to begin selling off veteran players in the last years of their deals. But since then, the Mets have beaten up on some of the National League’s weakest clubs, securing series victories against the Giants, Marlins and Phillies.
The Mets (38-42) have won four straight and seven of their last eight, climbing to four games under .500 for the first time since June 12.
Said Cabrera: “If we keep doing what we’re doing right now, we’re going to be fine.”
Despite the surge, a postseason berth still seems remote, with the Mets nine games out of a spot. And despite Saturday’s win, they offered reminders of why they face long odds.
In his first outing back from the disabled list with biceps tendinitis, Zack Wheeler struggled with his command and lasted only 3 2⁄3 innings. He was chased in the fourth after allowing a pair of unearned runs.
The Mets made three errors and hurt themselves on the basepaths. And the forecast got more gloomy when a rainstorm approached Citi Field and the Phillies went up 6-3 on Joseph’s homer off Salas in the seventh.
But the Mets roared back. T.J. Rivera atoned for an earlier error with a solo shot off Jeremy Hellickson. Two batters later, Travis d’Arnaud made up for a throwing error with a double off Pat Neshek.
Pinch hitter Wilmer Flores followed by ripping an RBI single to right, slicing the Mets’ deficit to 6-5. After Curtis Granderson struck out, Cabrera got a chance to put the Mets ahead.
He didn’t miss. Nine days after Cabrera angrily asked for a trade, he found himself watching his homer fly over the fence in right-center.
It wasn’t quite the same celebration with the same impact as last September.But for Cabrera, it was proof that he would remain professional. Since admitting he was upset about his position change, he’s hitting .394.
“Deep inside, these guys, they’re pros,” Collins said. “They’ll never do anything to embarrass themselves on the field.”