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Yoenis Cespedes not only hits tremendous three-run homer but shows plenty of hustle

Yoenis Cespedes #52 of the New York Mets

Yoenis Cespedes #52 of the New York Mets celebrates his fourth-inning three-run home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field in Game 3 of the NLDS on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Yoenis Cespedes' bat flip nearly went as high as the ball he had just crushed.

As Cespedes began his home run trot, the bat landed about 20 feet from home plate. The ball, when it finally landed, reached the second deck an estimated 431 feet from home plate.

And yet, the first question that Terry Collins was asked after the Mets' 13-7 win over the Dodgers on Monday night was about the 90 feet that Cespedes ran to first base earlier in the night.

Collins answered by recalling a conversation he had with Cespedes in Los Angeles.

"I walked by just to say something to him, and he said, 'It's time to play,' " Collins said. "And he shows you what he can do. This guy's electrifying on the field. He can do anything he wants. And that kind of hustle shows that he's determined to, again, to get us on, let us ride his back, and he's a dangerous player."

But Cespedes is known more for hitting hard than running hard. While much will be made of just how hard he hit his essential game-sealing home run, what could be overlooked by some is just how hard he ran to first base in the second inning.

With the defense shifted to the left side of the infield, Cespedes hit a grounder to shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Running hard out of the box, Cespedes beat the throw to leg out a single. He came around to score on a single by Travis d'Arnaud for the first run in a four-run inning that gave the Mets a 4-3 lead.

Even when leading off the eighth inning -- with the Mets comfortably in front 13-4 -- Cespedes again charged hard out of the box and nearly beat out a grounder to short.

"I think because this is a short series, its important," Cespedes said through an interpreter. "You can have five at-bats, I think it's important to go with each one with the mentality that you need to run fast, you need to hit hard, you need to just play hard. You need to go in there playing hard because there's not many games."

Cespedes' long three-run homer in the fourth inning, which gave the Mets a 10-3 lead, came on a 91-mph fastball from Alex Wood. The blast, which had a 111-mph exit velocity, evoked memories of Cespedes' win in the 2013 Home Run Derby at Citi Field and sent the crowd into a state of euphoria.

Cespedes admired the shot for a step or two before he held the bat from beneath its knob and flipped it high into the air toward the Mets' dugout.

"It makes me very happy because I think that home run helped me put my team at a little bit more of an advantage," said Cespedes, who came out for a curtain call. "I think today's win was really important. I'm happy with that."

Cespedes -- who hit an opposite-field home run off Zack Greinke in Game 2 for his lone hit in the series entering Monday night -- finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs and three runs scored. He became the first Met to homer in back-to-back postseason games since John Olerud in 1999.

"Our team's built on power, and so when we hit home runs, we think we got a big chance to win," Collins said. "And it's all about trying to get on base and then have somebody up there that can hit something into the seats."

By running and hitting hard, Cespedes did both.


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