Do the Mets have themselves a lucky charm? Or is Patrick Mazeika’s true sorcery the simple ability to make contact in an era of three true outcomes? Either way, this has proven one hell of a...
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Do the Mets have themselves a lucky charm?
Or is Patrick Mazeika’s true sorcery the simple ability to make contact in an era of three true outcomes?
Either way, this has proven one hell of a homestand for the Mets’ rookie.
The third-string catcher delivered his second walk-off fielder’s choice in five days, his ninth-inning, two-out tapper to Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini proving sufficiently slow for Jonathan Villar to beat the throw home and give the Mets their sixth straight victory, 3-2 over the Orioles Tuesday night at Citi Field.
“He’s a savage. He’s pretty cool,” said Dom Smith, whose game-tying single off Orioles closer Cesar Valdez set the stage for Mazeika’s encore. “For him to come up and help us win these ballgames, it’s pretty unique. The fact that he hasn’t gotten a hit yet but is still contributing, it’s showing how funny the game of baseball can be.”
You read that right: Mazeika, 27, the Mets’ eighth-round pick of their 2015 amateur draft, has zero career major league hits in four games. He has three RBIs, two of them game-winners, which a lengthy (pretend) statistical analysis concludes is a pretty strong ratio.
“I was the last man on the bench again,” Mazeika said. “I’m always ready.”
In honor of this 1969 World Series reunion, Citi’s scoreboard went retro, utilizing the ancient computer graphics from 52 years ago, and the game followed suit, a tight contest, with Marcus Stroman clocking a strong 6 ¹/₃ innings only to receive zero run support. Michael Conforto broke the Baltimore shutout with an RBI single in the eighth, and “Bench Mob” capos Kevin Pillar and Jonathan Villar started off the ninth with back-to-back singles. Smith picked up his heavily struggling teammate James McCann, who struck out after trying and failing to bunt his teammates over.
Up came Mazeika, pinch itting for Jeurys Familia, and the crowd responded positively, surely remembering how he ended Friday night’s classic — the one when Francico Lindor and Jeff McNeil went at it in the tunnel connecting the dugout to the clubhouse, then concocted an absurd story about a rat, a raccoon and a possum — with a 10th-inning, bases-loaded, one-out comebacker that Diamondbacks pitcher Stefan Crichton couldn’t convert into the necessary out.
“I hate striking out regardless of my situation,” Mazeika said, and he showed that, fighting through an 0-and-2 hole by fouling off a trio of pitches while taking two balls. Valdez’s final offering was a changeup low in the zone that Mazeika admittedly couldn’t lift, and it measured a modest exit velocity of 64.9 miles per hour. Just perfect, it turned out, for the victory.
“Mazeika, just knowing him from the past, he’s known for taking quality at-bats, and that’s what he’s done every time he’s been up there,” manager Luis Rojas said. “He’s put the ball in play, and another one when he walked [on Sunday, with the bases loaded]. That’s what got him here even before his catching.
“Just watching him perform out there and take at-bats against closers, it’s definitely fun to watch.”
For sure, his teammates are having fun with this. Mazeika posted a photo of himself on Twitter, shirt off, with egg yolk and baby powder all over him. Pitcher Jacob Barnes razzed him, asking, “Hey, are we trending up? Are you hitting it any harder?”
Not yet, no.
“Everyone loves Mazeika in this clubhouse, man,” Stroman said. “He’s a grinder. … It’s pretty incredible what he’s been able to do in those key situations. We’re going to continue to ride off of it.”
Mazeika titled his tweet, “Part 2. #LGM,” so naturally a rabble-rousing reporter (OK, it was me) asked him how many parts this saga would feature.
“Hopefully Part 3 ends with a hit,” he said. On the other hand, another walk-off fielder’s choice, and Mazeika’s legend will only expand.
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Ken Davidoff