For Travis d’Arnaud, July 4 was a liberating day.
There was a rebellion against a six-run deficit and there was the home run that started it.
And for d’Arnaud, that solo shot was particularly noteworthy because it released him from the shackles of the homerless club.
The Mets won their fifth straight Monday, beating the Miami Marlins, 8-6, at Citi Field. But when d’Arnaud stepped to the plate to face former Stony Brook pitcher Tom Koehler with two outs and nobody on in the fourth, the Mets trailed 6-0.
Koehler left a first-pitch fastball over the plate, and d’Arnaud smacked it over the fence in right-center.
“I feel like that was a good momentum swing for us, and we were definitely able to capitalize on that,” said d’Arnaud, who went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
That home run excited his teammates, Terry Collins said.
“Travis hit the home run,” he said, “and there was a lot of noise in the dugout.”
Not just for d’Arnaud hitting his first homer but also for the life it gave the team after Matt Harvey allowed five earned runs and 11 hits in 3 2⁄3 innings.
In yet another season interrupted by injuries, d’Arnaud has played in only 24 games and taken 82 at-bats. He went on the disabled list May 3 with his batting average at .196 and missed about 1 1⁄2 months as he recovered from a strain of his right rotator cuff.
Since his June 21 return, d’Arnaud has hit the ball well — just without power. The 27-year-old catcher has gone 13-for-36 (.361) in that stretch to raise his average to .268. The home run against Miami was his first extra-base hit during that span, though, and only his fourth of the season.
D’Arnaud said he has not altered his approach at the plate.
“I wish I could tell you guys,” he said, “but the other team might be listening to what my approach could be. Same approach, but all the credit goes to [hitting coaches Kevin Long and Pat Roessler].”
D’Arnaud reached base on two infield singles. The first drove in a run in the sixth and the second set up Yoenis Cespedes’ go-ahead, two-run double in the eighth.
With the score tied at 6, d’Arnaud led off and hit a grounder up the middle that Adeiny Hechavarria could only knock down. d’Arnaud advanced to second on Neil Walker’s two-out walk and scored on Cespedes’ double a batter later.
“I take a very aggressive secondary [when Cespedes is at the plate] because I think he’s going to get that base hit and I know I’m going to have to run as hard as I can to score,” d’Arnaud said. “Fortunately, he was able to put it in the gap, so I didn’t have to run as hard.”
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