The way the first few innings unfolded Friday night, even Terry Collins felt as if something special might happen. The Mets had a two-run lead, starter Jacob deGrom had held the Phillies without a hit and the manager was musing about letting his starter go deep in a gem.
That ended when Andrew Knapp lofted a routine fly ball to center and Curtis Granderson lost it in the twilight. He stood still while searching for the ball and couldn’t find it. Finally, he located it, turned and began to run — but it landed about 15 feet behind him for a triple.
“I didn’t see it. I’ve got nothing else to say,” he said. “You can’t catch what you can’t see.”
Soon after, the lead was cut in half, but the Mets held on for the 2-1 win at Citi Field.
Granderson explained that there is about a 15-minute period during every evening game at this time of year when picking up a fly ball is nearly impossible.
“It’s not dark enough for the lights to kick in and it’s not bright enough for the sun to do what it’s supposed to do — it’s set — and it’s just that period we call twilight,” he said. “It’s hit up there and your guess is as [good] as anyone else’s. Just hope it’s not hit to you.”
Said Collins, “Probably in every outdoor park where there’s a time at night, when if you don’t see it go up, you don’t see it.”
That moment aside, it was another productive night as Granderson capped a smoldering hot June. He won a 10-pitch battle with starter Ben Lively with two outs in the second inning, coming away with an infield hit that drove in the Mets’ first run. Phillies second baseman Ty Kelly got to the ground ball on the shortstop side of second base, but the throw across his body could not beat Granderson and T.J. Rivera scored.
Granderson hit .316 with eight homers and 15 RBIs in 26 June games and has a nine-game hitting streak. Coming out of April, his average was .128.
“If he’s not hitting a homer, he’s getting on base. He’s done a tremendous job this month,” Collins said. “He’s really come on. With Michael [Conforto] being out, he’s been a tremendous asset to us.”
Said Granderson, “It’s interesting. If a guy gets off to an amazing start, they say he’s off to a great start but he’s probably not going to continue that pace. But if a guy gets off to a slow start, everyone wants to know what’s wrong. It’s 600 at-bats, and a lot of things happen over the course of a season.
“We focus on April because it’s immediate. Just as much as you don’t believe guys are going to hit .450 all season, continue to have faith guys aren’t going to hit .100 all season.”