Minutes before his pivotal at-bat in the bottom of the eighth inning Saturday night against the Nationals, J.D. Davis was in the video room.
He briefly emerged — in ecstatic fashion — to celebrate Luis Guillorme’s game-tying pinch-hit home run, but he was focused on preparing to face Daniel Hudson, a pitcher whom he wasn't familiar with.
Davis, thrust into an everyday role when Dominic Smith hit the injured list on July 27, has spoken often about the way he studies pitchers. This was no different. Down 0-and-2 in the count, Davis flipped a slider to rightfield, deep enough to score Joe Panik from third base, and gave the Mets a 4-3 lead.
“He left a pitch over the plate, and I just made sure I stayed through it instead of rolling over, and I hit a sacrifice fly to right,” said Davis, who batted cleanup and has consistently batted in the middle of the lineup since becoming a regular.
Seth Lugo held the lead in the ninth inning, giving the Mets 15 wins in 16 games.
“I don’t just do my homework before the at-bat. I do it before every series,” Davis said. “But just to look at spin rate, look at where he’s been pitching, just to get an idea so that I go up to the plate not without knowing anything.”
Mets hitters have an app on their iPads that allows them to study pitchers on the go, but the last-minute cram session for Hudson helped, Davis said.
Mets manager Mickey Callaway acknowledged the difficulty of earning a positive outcome against a hard-throwing reliever like Hudson, especially when down 0-and-2.
“It’s very tough,” Callaway said. “He’s trying to elevate on you, trying to get you to swing and miss, pop one up on the infield, and you have to stay short and quick. He fouled one off with a nice short, quick swing, and kept on grinding and he didn’t try to do too much. That’s the key.”
That was the key blow, but not necessarily the loudest one.
With two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, Davis homered off Nationals starter Patrick Corbin. Two pitches later, Wilson Ramos followed with another long ball, tying the score at 2.
Davis, who has homered in consecutive games and has four in his last seven games, is hitting .397 (46-for-116) at Citi Field this season and has reached base in each of his last 18 starts at home.
Acquired in the offseason from the Astros for three minor-leaguers in what has proven to be a shrewd move by first-year general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, Davis has produced. Never given a full-time chance in Houston, he’s taking advantage of what’s in front of him in Queens.
He said the atmosphere at Citi Field lately — especially the last two games — has been electric.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “We keep surprising ourselves. We have all the confidence in the world right now with us, but some things that we’re doing right now, we’re surprising ourselves.”