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Javier Baez turns boos to cheers in first of Mets' doubleheader victories

Javier Baez #23 of the Mets slides home

Javier Baez #23 of the Mets slides home with the game winning run in the ninth inning against Alex Jackson #23 of the Miami Marlins at Citi Field on August 31, 2021. Credit: Getty Images/Jim McIsaac

No one is booing Javier Baez or the Mets now.

Trailing by four runs entering the ninth inning, the Mets rallied to beat the Marlins, 6-5, in the first of two games on Tuesday at Citi Field, with Baez scoring the winning run.

"It was a great day," Brandon Nimmo said.

The Mets took a much less dramatic 3-1 victory in the night game — a seven-inning contest — for their fourth consecutive victory.

 

"The feeling after that second game: The guys were having a party in there," manager Luis Rojas said.

In the first game, Michael Conforto delivered the final hit as he stroked a two-out single to left to tie the score at 5. The winning run came across when Miami catcher-turned-leftfielder Jorge Alfaro booted the ball for an error.

Baez — about five hours after apologizing to Mets fans along with Francisco Lindor for Sunday’s "thumbs-down" incident — came all the way around from first to score the winning run with a headfirst slide.

Baez, who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the 8th, had hit a two-out, RBI infield single to deep short to bring the Mets to within a run.

"Incredible final inning by the guys," Conforto said. "Obviously, Javy doing his thing. Incredible awareness to know that ball got away and score to win the game. That’s huge. It says a lot about the guys. Especially today."

After the on-field celebration, Baez and some of his teammates spent the next few minutes searching the grass and dirt in front of home plate for an earring Baez had lost during his mad dash to the plate.

Even as long as 45 minutes after the win, Mets grounds crew members, security guards and even team president Sandy Alderson were scouring the grass and dirt for the bauble.

It was Alderson who, on Sunday, issued a statement castigating the Mets players for Baez’s comments that the thumbs-down gesture was directed at fans who had been booing the team during its recent slide.

Is all forgiven? Apparently so. Baez was greeted mostly with cheers before his first at-bat in the night game.

"I don’t know what one game does," Conforto said. "But I can tell you that the guys wanted to win this one about as badly as any other game we’ve played. In short, winning cures everything."

Conforto hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning for the first runs of the night game. Trevor Williams allowed one run in 4 1/3 and was backed up by winning pitcher Aaron Loup (4-0), Seth Lugo and Edwin Diaz (27th save).

The Mets were down 5-1 with one out in the ninth inning of the day game when Brandon Nimmo hit a two-run homer to make it 5-3. One out later, Dom Smith singled and Pete Alonso doubled to bring Baez to the plate to chants of his name from the small crowd of a few thousand for the completion of a suspended game from April 11.

The Mets spent the morning meeting about — and then apologizing for — the thumbs-down incident. The Mets concluded that making gestures intended to boo the fans is not something they want to continue doing.

Owner Steve Cohen tweeted, "Glad to hear our players apologizing to the fans. Let’s get behind our players today and go out and win two today!"

After the stirring rally, Cohen tweeted: "Sometimes, baseball can be pure joy. I’m so happy for the players."

According to official scorer Howie Karpin, the first game resumed after a delay of four months, 19 days, 23 hours and 55 minutes.

That’s how long it took between Marcus Stroman’s ninth and final pitch in a driving rainstorm on April 11 (before the game, which never should have been started, was suspended) and Taijuan Walker’s first pitch on Tuesday.

Since Tuesday’s day game was a continuation, it started with a runner on first base and the Marlins’ No. 3 hitter at the plate. Miami had to change five players in its lineup because they were no longer on the roster.

The Mets had to change the bottom three in their order, including a new third baseman for Luis Guillorme, who was on the injured list for the opener, but was activated for the nightcap.

Lindor received a mix of boos and cheers before his first at-bat. Baez was booed lustily when he pinch hit for Jeff McNeil in the eighth.

Before the game, the Mets placed Tomas Nido back on the injured list with a left thumb sprain and called up catcher Chance Sisco from Triple-A Syracuse. Sisco walked in front of Nimmo’s ninth-inning homer.

Notes & quotes: Immediately after the nightcap, the Mets announced a preemptive rainout for Wednesday night’s game as the remnant of Hurricane Ida heads north. The Mets and Marlins will play a single-admission doubleheader on Sept. 28 beginning at 4:10 p.m.

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