The rookie Jeff McNeil got three more hits, including a home run, with his unusual bat, leading Noah Syndergaard and the Mets over the visiting Cincinnati Reds, 6-4, on Monday night in a matchup of struggling teams.
Wilmer Flores, playing on his 27th birthday, and Austin Jackson each had three hits for the Mets, and Kevin Plawecki added a homer.
Both clubs had lost five of six going into the series opener. Before it began, Reds pitcher Matt Harvey was honored with a video tribute, with the former Mets ace drawing a mix of cheers and boos in his first game at Citi Field since being traded to Cincinnati in May.
McNeil uses a bat with no knob, something virtually unseen in the majors. Instead, his bat simply flares out at the end — he started using it a couple of years ago in the minors, saying he liked the way it felt balanced.
“To me, it’s just a normal bat,” he said.
Asked if any of his new teammates had asked to try it, he said, laughing, “No, not up here.”
A 26-year-old second baseman, McNeil is 12 for 33 (.364) with two homers in 12 games since making his major league debut this season. He was batting a combined .342 with 19 homers at Class AAA and Class AA when he was called up.
McNeil has eight hits in his last 12 at-bats. He singled during a three-run first inning against Homer Bailey (1-9), singled in a two-run fourth and hit a solo homer into the second deck in right field in sixth.
McNeil’s homer made it 6-0, and Syndergaard (7-2) seemed to be in complete control when he retired the first batter in the seventh. But he hit the next two batters with pitches, and the Reds went on to rally for four runs.
Jose Peraza’s R.B.I. single finished Syndergaard, and reliever Bobby Wahl walked Joey Votto with the bases loaded. Eugenio Suarez looped a two-out, two-run single against Robert Gsellman that made it 6-4, but Mason Williams struck out with two runners on base.
Jerry Blevins pitched the ninth for his first save of the season, and the sixth of his 12-year career.
Syndergaard’s streak of 13 straight of allowing no more than three runs ended.
Before the game, Harvey, who is not scheduled to pitch in the series, reflected on his highs and lows with the Mets. He said he would understand if there were some boos.
“I want people to know I do regret a lot of mistakes I made,” he said, later adding, “Obviously, I never wished it ended like that.”
Ed Kranepool, the 73-year-old former Mets slugger, threw the ceremonial first pitch before the game to raise awareness for his search for a kidney. Kranepool, who spent 18 years with the Mets and was a part of their 1969 World Series-winning squad, had a falling-out with the club’s ownership but was invited to Monday’s game to aid his search for an organ donor. (NYT)