PHILADELPHIA — The comfort of routine can function as a prison for many players, who lock themselves into their habits no matter what. Yoenis Cespedes is not one of these.
His slump to start the season prompted him to skip batting practice on the field in recent days. And when that didn’t work, the Mets slugger switched it up again, taking hacks with the rest of his teammates. But Tuesday afternoon was different.
“It looked like a driving range out there the way he was hitting the ball,” Terry Collins said, after Cespedes clubbed three homers in the Mets’ 14-4 thrashing of the Phillies Tuesday night.
The Mets brutalized Phillies pitching for 14 runs on 20 hits, including seven homers. Three came off the bat of Cespedes, who began the night hitting .154.
“Can you imagine?” Cespedes said through a translator. “I think any baseball player that hit three home runs would be having a lot of fun. It wasn’t just fun for me, though. It was really great to see the whole team getting hits out there and having fun.”
Lucas Duda delivered the longest blast, the first of his two homers. Measured at an estimated 448 feet by MLB.com, Duda’s blast cleared the ivy-covered batters’ eye in straightaway centerfield.
Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera hit back-to-back homers in the fourth. In the eighth, catcher Travis d’Arnaud lined a two-run shot to the opposite field.
But the night belonged to Cespedes. Twice, he came to the plate looking to become just the 17th player in baseball history to smack four homers in the same game. Twice, he received applause from a pro-Mets crowd. He doubled and hit into a forceout. “I wasn’t thinking that when I went out there,” he said. “You don’t go out there looking for home runs.”
Yet Cespedes homered three times in a game for the first time since Aug. 21, 2015, at Coors Field, not long after his trade to the Mets. He finished 4-for-6 with three homers, a double and five RBIs. His four extra-base hits equaled a franchise record for a single game.
Cespedes, one of 12 Mets players to hit three homers in a game, is the only one in franchise history to do it twice.
“This guy’s dynamite,” Collins said. “I’m not surprised by it at all.”
The Mets (5-3) began their first road trip of the season by claiming a series victory. They enter tonight’s series finale on a three-game winning streak.
The only blot on the evening came from Matt Harvey, who departed after 5 2⁄3 innings with tightness in his left hamstring. He allowed two runs in his second start of the year.
But after the game, Harvey said he was on track to make his next start, and the Mets described his injury as a cramp that popped up after he covered first base on a groundout.
“It was nothing serious,” said Harvey, who wondered if the tightness came from waiting out long innings.
The Mets have hit 46 homers in their last 21 games in Philadelphia. That included 18 home runs in nine games at Citizens Bank Park a season ago, when they used a similar barrage in April to snap out of an early-season offensive funk.
Cabrera went 4-for-6, scored three runs and finished only a triple short of the cycle. Duda went 4-for-6, capping his night with a ninth-inning solo shot.
The Mets hit at least seven homers in a game for the third time in franchise history, with all of them at Citizens Bank Park. The Mets finished with 14 extra-base hits, second in team history only to the 15 extra-base hits they record in 2015 in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, Cespedes chased history of his own, prompted by some needling from Jose Reyes, whose three-HR game with the Mets was also at Philadelphia, in 2006.
“After two home runs, he was telling me how he hit three home runs and how anyone can hit two home runs,” Cespedes said. “So whenever I came in after that third home run, he was just going crazy.”
BACK, BACK, BACK!
A Met has hit three home runs in a game 13 times, the last two courtesy of Yoenis Cespedes.
Player Date Opponent
Yoenis Cespedes April 11, 2017 at Philadelphia
Yoenis Cespedes Aug. 21, 2015 at Colorado
Lucas Duda July 29, 2015 vs. San Diego
Kirk Nieuwenhuis July 12, 2015 vs. Arizona
Ike Davis July 28, 2012 at Arizona
Carlos Beltran May 12, 2011 at Colorado
Jose Reyes Aug. 15, 2006 at Philadelphia
Edgardo Alfonzo Aug. 30, 1999 at Houston
Gary Carter Sept. 3, 1985 at San Diego
Darryl Strawberry Aug. 5, 1985 at Chicago
Claudell Washington June 22, 1980 at Los Angeles
Dave Kingman June 4, 1976 at Los Angeles
Jim Hickman Sept. 3, 1965 at St. Louis