The bright spots and reasons for optimism have been difficult to find for the Mets since their 11-1 start to the season, but Wilmer Flores continues to be one of them.
Flores, who etched himself as a fan favorite before the 2015 trade deadline when he was brought to tears upon hearing reports during a game that he might have been traded, continuously brings excitement at Citi Field when his walk-up song — the Rembrandts’ “I’ll Be There for You,” best known as the theme song for the ’90s sitcom “Friends’’ — plays over the stadium speakers.
Now Flores’ production has fans even more excited than the 26-year-old’s enjoyment of the game. The versatile infielder went 3-for-4 in Saturday’s 3-0 loss to the Rays at Citi Field, accounting for nearly half of the team’s seven hits.
Flores has hits in 15 of his last 17 games, including an 11-game hitting streak before going 0-for-4 in Friday’s 5-1 victory over Tampa Bay. He has 13 RBIs in his last 17 games and has driven in 10 runs in his last 12 games.
“I feel good since Day One,” Flores said. “It’s just sometimes you don’t get the results. But when you get the results, you feel even better.”
Entering Saturday with a career slash line of .264/.310/.489 against lefthanded pitchers, Flores doubled off southpaw Blake Snell to lead off the second inning but was stranded at third base. He led off the fourth and seventh innings with singles but never advanced past first base. Flores improved his batting average to .362 (17-for-47) when he leads off innings this season.
He said it was his first time facing Snell, who allowed six hits and three walks with nine strikeouts in 7 1⁄3 innings. But Flores wanted to attack the fastball early in the count, which he did on both of his singles.
Flores has started in 42 of his 66 appearances this season, including the last eight contests. As a player who hasn’t been a regular starter for much of his six-year career, he has appreciated the opportunities for consistent at-bats.
“It definitely helps a little bit,” Flores said, “but me as a guy that comes off the bench, I have to find ways to get ready so it definitely helps that I’m out there a little bit more.”
But Flores didn’t receive much help Saturday. The Mets had the leadoff batter reach base in seven of nine innings but were shut out for the seventh time this season.
“I think there’s no doubt we’ve struggled in those positions,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “ . . . Today we didn’t get the job done a couple times that would have kept us in the game a little bit more, but some of that was probably who was on the mound facing us today.”