If Buck Showalter had any concern the Mets would come out lethargic following a draining five-game set against the Braves, Starling Marte calmed his skipper with one swing of the bat.
After Justin Dunn hit Brandon Nimmo with a pitch to begin the bottom of the first, Marte hammered a fastball 408 feet to left-center for a two-run home run. Marte’s blast provided both the keynote and the only run support that Chris Bassitt would need in a 5-1 series-opening win over the Reds at Citi Field on Monday night.
“I don’t look for home runs, I just try to hit the ball hard,” Marte said. “I try to advance the runner if he’s on first base so the next guy up can drive him in. The way that sometimes turns out, I’ve been the one to hit the home run, but I’m not necessarily looking for home runs.”
August had begun inauspiciously for Marte, who hit .377 in July. Entering Monday’s game, he was hitting just .194 in eight games this month.
Marte rediscovered his All-Star form Monday night, adding a line-drive single and a stolen base, along with the home run. It marked his first multi-hit performance since July 29, when he notched three hits against Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara.
With a .294/.345/.462 slash line, Marte continues to provide the Mets with the sort of production they envisioned receiving upon signing him to a four-year, $78 million contract in November.
“They’re very consistent in who they are and who they try to be,” Showalter said of the trio of Marte, Nimmo, and Francisco Lindor. “… Once I found out that Starling’s the guy you just kinda left in a spot in the lineup and a spot on the field and when he had that piece of mind, it kinda took off for him.”
Marte, mirroring Showalter’s mentality, stressed the importance of bringing the same energy each game.
“It doesn’t matter which team it is that’s coming out to play, we know that we have a responsibility, we have to go out there and score runs,” Marte said. “Thankfully, that’s what’s been going on. It doesn’t matter if a team’s in last place or first place, we have to go out there, play hard and win those games.”
And his first-inning long ball set the tone for the Mets to do just that.
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