Yoenis Cespedes finally may be shaking off a very bad looking start to the season.
The slugger went 2-for-4 on Wednesday night against the Nationals and struck the loudest blow in the Mets’ nine-run rally in the eighth inning of the 11-5 win with a grand slam. Cespedes singled to center earlier in the inning.
Cespedes has four home runs and 17 RBIs but he has been striking out at an alarming rate. He has 29 strikeouts in 75 plate appearances, a rate of 38.7 percent. For some perspective, the Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton has identical numbers and he is booed every time he makes an out.
Though he hasn’t given many interviews this year, Cespedes has said he felt his timing hadn’t clicked in yet. Asked whether two hits in one inning might get him on track, he replied through an interpreter, “I really hope so.”
He said he doesn’t carry what happens in one at-bat into the next one. It’s a good thing because he struck out in the third and fifth innings before coming up in the eighth. He looked bad going after Tanner Roark’s 2-and-2 slider in the third and flailed at the righthander’s high and outside fastball in the fifth.
“Even before this game, every at-bat I get, if I strike out or I don’t strike out, I have to prepare for the next at-bat,” Cespedes said. “It’s a new at-bat each time.”
Cespedes’ slam was against A.J. Cole and came off his bat at 100 mph, according to Statcast. It tracked the homer going 383 feet into the leftfield stands.
Just before his single, Cespedes fouled a ball off his left foot and seemed in pain before getting back into the batter’s box. After the single he still looked in discomfort. However, he didn’t seem bothered when he scored from second on Todd Frazier’s bases-loaded single with a head-first slide.
And he certainly seemed fine when he batted again.