Jay Bruce’s first two months with the Mets didn’t go so well overall, though he did pick it up at the end.
But the rightfielder can erase any bad memories of his initial foray into Metsdom with one big swing — or a couple of them — in Wednesday’s wild card game against the Giants at Citi Field.
“This is why you play,” Bruce said. “Nothing else matters at this point. Obviously, my career here didn’t start the way I wanted it to, but that’s baseball. Here we are now and we have a chance to start all over.”
General manager Sandy Alderson didn’t expect Yoenis Cespedes redux when he acquired Bruce from the Reds at the trade deadline. He also didn’t expect Bruce to be an automatic out who hit .174 in his first 42 games with the Mets.
Bruce went on a tear once he found his stroke. In the last eight games he went 12-for-22 (.545) with four home runs, the same total he had in his first 42 games as a Met.
“To be a piece at the trade deadline like that is something I take a lot of pride in,” Bruce said. “I feel like I can help a team. I feel like I can contribute and I was able to do that at the end. I want to play baseball that matters. I played a lot of that in Cincinnati. I got an opportunity to come to a team — they believed in me enough to acquire me in order to help them make another push for a World Series and win it. This is the first step.”
Bruce is a .258 career postseason hitter with two home runs and six RBIs in nine games with the Reds. He has extensive experience against Giants starter Madison Bumgarner and is 3-for-21 (.143) with one home run against the lefthander.
That one home run was a biggie. On July 27, Bruce hit a home run off Bumgarner in the seventh inning to snap a tie and give the Reds a 2-1 victory over the Giants.
Five days later, Bruce became a Met. He can only hope for another moment like that one on Wednesday night.