If it is true that moms know everything, apparently that even includes how to get out of a slump.
Francisco Lindor set the tone for the Mets’ 10-4 win over the Marlins on Friday night with a three-run home run in the first inning. The on-field highlight of his mediocre month coincidentally came just hours after the off-field highlight: an unexpected visit from his mother, Maria Serrano.
Lindor’s wife, Katia, arranged for the surprise, flying in Serrano from Florida (as well as other relatives from Florida and Puerto Rico) and luring Lindor to a room near the Mets’ clubhouse, where Serrano was waiting a little more than an hour before first pitch.
Serrano’s ability to travel has been limited in recent years by her health, and this was her first time seeing her son play at Citi Field since he joined the team before last season.
On the second pitch he saw from Marlins righthander Pablo Lopez, Lindor cranked a homer an estimated 440 feet to straightaway centerfield.
“I’m a person who shows a lot of emotions, but to run the bases and scream — there was a lot of things going through my mind in that moment,” Lindor said. “It fills my heart. I play the game for my mom and my whole entire family. To have her here in this moment, it was a win for me. It was a win for my whole entire family . . . It gave me that extra motivation, energy, that little boost that I needed.”
He also made several smooth plays at shortstop, including a backhanded stop — completed with a turn and strong throw — on a ground ball by the speedy Jazz Chisholm Jr. to record an out.
“You could tell he had a little hop in his step,” manager Buck Showalter said.
The Mets (43-23) lead the NL East by 5 1⁄2 games after the Cubs snapped Atlanta’s winning streak at 14 games.
They blew the game open with a seven-run bottom of the sixth, capped by Pete Alonso’s grand slam. His 19 homers lead the National League. His 63 RBIs lead the majors.
Alonso became the second fastest to 125 career home runs, accomplishing the feat in 435 games. Only Ryan Howard (405) was quicker. Aaron Judge is third at 447.
Lopez, whose start was pushed back to this series opener because of a bruised wrist, finished with seven runs (six earned) allowed in 5 1⁄3 innings. Carlos Carrasco was largely efficient in 6 1⁄3 innings, giving up three runs, eight hits and two walks. He has a 3.96 ERA and 1.25 WHIP.
“Very quietly, he’s [been] one of the better pitchers in the league,” Showalter said. “It’s a product of him being healthy.”
Early on, the biggest difference between the teams was that the Mets successfully fielded balls hit at them and the Marlins (28-34), in two critical instances, did not.
The Mets’ first batter, Brandon Nimmo, smacked one toward second baseman Chisholm, who had the ball skip off his glove and trickle into centerfield for a single. The Mets’ second batter, Starling Marte, smoked a line drive even harder almost directly at centerfielder Bryan De La Cruz, who dropped it for an error.
That gave the Mets two on and none out. Moments later, Lindor smashed a changeup, Lopez’s signature pitch.
Lindor had struggled lately with a .163/.212/.245 slash line in a dozen games entering Friday since fracturing the tip of his right middle finger at the start of the Mets’ SoCal road trip. The finger still is swollen, the nail still is bloodied and the whole thing still is painful more than two weeks later. But he has played through it.
“It hurts. I’ll put it that way,” he said before the game, noting that it affects his hitting “here and there” and he numbs it every day before taking the field. “It hurts more in batting practice than during the game. It’s definitely much better than what it was. Much better. I would say it feels great compared to how it was on the West Coast.”