NEW YORK – Carlos Gomez, whose three-run homer Thursday sent the New York Mets to their first four-game sweep in three years, began the season on a minors deal with Triple-A Syracuse.
Adeiny Hechavarria, who scored the winning run Tuesday and ignited the go-ahead rally Wednesday, began the year in the same situation as Gomez, as did fellow veteran Rajai Davis, who homered Wednesday after a long Uber trip.
All three were part of the Mets’ offseason plan to bolster their depth, a strategy that paid off handsomely in this knockout blow to the Nationals that concluded with a 6-4 win Thursday. Gomez hit a three-run homer with two outs in the eighth off Wander Suero to put the Mets ahead by the final score after they had blown a 3-1 lead.
The Mets (24-25) erased three eighth-inning deficits in the last three days, and have won four straight games after flopping in Miami.
“(The depth) is super important. Something we probably missed at times last year. You’re not capable of doing what we’ve done this series without great depth,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “We had guys go down, and that would make it tough.”
While most of the Mets’ offseason moves have not paid dividends thus far, the team’s depth moves have helped steal some games.
Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen and GM Allard Baird focused on acquiring quality depth pieces that they could stash in the minors for when injuries arose. The Mets have been burned in the past by relying on the likes of Eric Campbell, Danny Muno and Ty Kelly.
The hope is that adding those types of players will give the team a legitimate bench option for the short term when a player is sidelined. They don’t need to pick up all the slack, but a competitive at-bat and some timely hits are welcomed.
Gomez, Davis, Hechavarria and Luis Avilan have all contributed after signing minors deals, and Ryan O’Rourke and Hector Santiago have also been added.
“When everybody sat down in the offseason and talked through it, that’s what we needed. We needed a lot of depth and not just the depth that’s going to be on your major league roster but the depth that’s going to be in Triple-A. Those guys are coming up and really helping us out,” Callaway said. “Great job by Brodie and the front office.”
Gomez earned his shot in the majors after the team decided it had seen enough of Keon Broxton, who twice struck out with the bases loaded down one run.
While the three-for-one trade Broxton was a flop, the Mets deserve credit for cutting the cord early enough and giving Gomez a chance.
Gomez, who is a walking energy drink, has provided a certain spark to the Mets. He’s loud, brash, and he’s delivered some hits that Broxton did not in similar spots.
Broxton scored the game’s first run in the fifth after singling off Stephen Strasburg, stealing second, advancing to third on an error, and running home on a sacrifice fly.
The Mets wasted a 3-1 lead in the eighth when Robert Gsellman allowed three runs, including a two-run, go-ahead single to Gerardo Parra, but no lead is insurmountable with the Nationals bullpen. The Mets have dominated them all season long, and particularly during this four-game set.
After the Nationals intentionally walked Wilson Ramos to face Gomez with two outs, Gomez made them pay by rocketing a three-run homer when Suero threw a 1-2 meatball down Broadway. Just two days earlier, Suero made the same mistake against JD Davis, hanging a 1-2 breaking ball that landed in the seats.
“It's unbelievable. I'm blessed. I came back here in this situation to play the way that we're playing right now with a lot of energy, and I'm enjoying it every single time. You guys can notice, when I'm in the dugout, playing defense” Gomez said. “I'm enjoying every single moment that God gives me the opportunity to play the game I love.”
Gomez’s teammates have been quick to praise Gomez for what he contributes beyond just the game-winning homer.
“He just brings this energy that you can't replicate. I think more so than anything, you can't fake it,” O’Rourke said. “I played against him ... I hated the guy. Absolutely despised him. But, now that I got to know him and got to hang out with him off the field ... he's my favorite Major League player of all time. He's serious and passionate, that's the cool part.”
The Mets will need their starting position player back soon if they’re going to make a serious run with their daunting upcoming schedule
As much as they wish they could, they can’t play Washington every day.
Until then, Gomez, Hechavarria and others will be asked to help the team any way they can. So far, those veterans that signed minors deals have been up to the task.
“We're all professionals. We all play a long time at this level. We know we contribute to help a team win the game,” Gomez said. “Have a little time in the minor leagues, kind of recharge the battery and come here with more energy and enthusiasm and help this team. The purpose of me signing here is to win."