How do you know things are really picking up at Citi Field? Yes, of course, the fans are coming back — 25,463 strong for Saturday’s 4-1 victory over San Diego.
The other measure is that it’s the opposing players that are getting booed now instead of Mets such as Francisco Lindor.
Remember when those small April crowds were giving it to Lindor? On Saturday, the $341-million man heard nothing but cheers as he staked Marcus Stroman to a 2-0 lead with a first-inning, two-run home run into the packed 7 Line Army fan contingent in centerfield.
Last weekend, Lindor said the team was doing so well and he was doing so much better that "when I get home maybe I don’t get booed" — and that’s exactly what’s happening as the Mets keep on winning.
"It feels great, man," Lindor said. "It is a little bit of a relief. In the first couple of games when I got booed, it felt like I was playing on the road. Now I feel like I'm at home.
"And I want to thank the crowd for showing up and supporting the whole team. We win with them. We don't win without them, so they're a big part of our success every single time, but they definitely put a lot of pressure on other teams."
Stroman allowed one run in 6 1/3 innings (six hits, one walk, eight strikeouts) and Jonathan Villar also homered as the Mets have won three in a row and five of six.
The numbers are even better at home: The Mets are 17-5 in Flushing, matching their best 22-game start at home since 1972. They have won six in a row and 11 of 12 in front of the home faithful.
Lindor’s sixth home run came off Joe Musgrove (4-6, 2.50 ERA) and continued what has felt like a party atmosphere in Flushing lately, even on days when Jacob deGrom doesn’t pitch. The boos on Saturday were for Padres stars such as Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr.
Stroman (6-4, 2.33 ERA) kept the Padres scoreless for the first six innings and Dom Smith’s RBI groundout made it 3-0 in the bottom of the sixth.
Tatis led off the seventh with a home run in the second deck in left to make it 3-1. It was his 18th home run and tied him with Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr. for the National League lead.
One out later, Stroman walked Wil Myers for his only free pass of the day. Manager Luis Rojas called in Aaron Loup, and the lefthander finished the inning without incident and combined with Seth Lugo and Edwin Diaz (12th save) to complete the six-hitter.
Lugo allowed the only bullpen baserunner with a one-out walk in the eighth. That was only a tiny blemish since he struck out the side in his inning in his fifth outing since returning from elbow surgery.
"That's what Seth’s done for us since he joined us," Rojas said. "I told him in the dugout, ‘I'm so excited that you're here. I mean, you're making us even deeper now.’ "
The Mets were also buoyed by the first start off the injured list by Luis Guillorme, who played second and teamed with Lindor to turn a pair of double plays in the first four innings. Guillorme threw in a spectacular diving play to rob Victor Caratini of a leadoff hit in the third.
"That's a really good combination up the middle," Rojas said. "Our infielders just keep playing really well. Guillorme’s so talented. We’ve become deeper now with our infield defense."
In the ninth, the final out was a grounder off Diaz’s glove that shot over to Lindor, who reversed course to his right to field it on the backhand and throw out Myers.
When it was over, that sound Lindor and the rest of the Mets heard? Nothing but cheers.
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