With all the talk about what talent the Mets might add at the Aug. 2 trade deadline, Sunday’s 4-1 victory over Texas at Citi Field was a reminder that it also would help the club if some of its current players started playing better.
That’s where Carlos Carrasco and Eduardo Escobar came in.
Carrasco, who had allowed 19 runs and seven home runs in his previous four outings, allowed one run in 5 2⁄3 innings on Sunday for his ninth win.
Escobar was slumping so badly that he got a timeout from manager Buck Showalter on Wednesday. The benching seemed to light a fire inside the third baseman, who homered for the third consecutive game Sunday as the Mets took the rubber match.
“It felt nice,” said Carrasco, who said he threw more breaking balls and made an effort to move his fastball around in the zone. “That combination today was great.”
The same could be said for the combination of Carrasco and Escobar, well-respected veterans who had been underperforming.
“I’m happy because, like I’ve said before, this is a baseball team with a lot of good players,” Escobar said through an interpreter. “One day it could be me. The next day it could be [Francisco] Lindor or the next day it could be [Pete] Alonso. When one player’s struggling, that next player is on fire. So that’s what we do. We come out here, we pick each other up. That’s how we’re going to continue to go on and play good baseball.”
Carrasco (9-4, 4.64 ERA) gave up six hits, including a third-inning home run by catcher Jonah Heim. He walked one and struck out eight.
Rangers starter Jon Gray (4-4, 3.96) had allowed only four runs in his previous four starts, but the Mets got to him early.
Starling Marte homered in the first inning to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. It was his ninth of the season.
After Heim tied it, the Mets took a 4-1 lead with a three-run fourth. Alonso struck out to begin the inning, but the pitch went to the backstop and Heim fired wildly to first in an attempt to retire Alonso. The ball went into rightfield and Alonso reached second on the two-base error.
Jeff McNeil lined the next pitch into the rightfield corner for a go-ahead RBI double. Escobar made it 4-1 with a two-run homer to right-centerfield, his ninth of the season.
Escobar said he worked less on his swing during his slump than he did on keeping his spirits up.
“Everything is the mentality,” he said in English. “When you’re struggling, you think too much. When you’re thinking too much — no matter what you do in your life . . . player, lawyer, whatever — when you’re thinking too much, you’re in trouble. They told me, ‘Have fun. Relax. You can do it. You’ve done it before.’ ”
Showalter, who picked up his 1,600th managerial win to break a tie with Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda for 22nd place in MLB history, pushed the right button when the Rangers threatened in the sixth.
Texas had stacked its lineup with six lefthanded hitters and one switch hitter, but Showalter had lefty Joely Rodriguez ready for a big spot if needed.
That spot came when Nathaniel Lowe singled with two outs to put two on, bringing lefty-swinging Kole Calhoun to the plate as the tying run. Calhoun hit two homers in the Rangers’ 7-3 victory on Saturday.
After Carrasco departed to a standing ovation, Rodriguez got Calhoun to ground to second to end the inning.
Rodriguez pitched a scoreless seventh, too, and Adam Ottavino tossed a perfect eighth. Edwin Diaz allowed two baserunners in the ninth but struck out Mitch Garver for the second out and got Leody Taveras to line to left for his 21st save.
“Carlos was really good,” Showalter said, “but I thought Joely had a big outing for us also . . . Otto went through a big part of their order, Edwin closed the game and made it look easy from the standpoint that it wasn’t easy for him.”
Atlanta lost to the Reds, 4-3, so the Mets’ lead in the NL East is back to 3½ games.