SAN DIEGO – It took Eduardo Escobar a long time to heat up this season. But in becoming the first Mets player to hit for the cycle since 2012, which he did in his team’s 11-5 win over the San Diego Padres on Monday night, it seemed as if he might never stop hitting.
Any time a player hits for the cycle, Manager Buck Showalter said, “it’s fun to watch. But especially him. You know how much he means to his teammates. It’s almost like they hit it. “
Escobar belted a two-run single in the first inning against Padres starter Blake Snell. He whacked a double to lead off the fourth inning against Snell. He slugged a two-run home run against reliever Craig Stammen in the eighth and then seized the cycle dramatically with a two-run triple off reliever Tim Hill in the ninth.
According to Stats PerformEscobar was the first player in major league history to get a cycle with a homer in the eighth and a triple in the ninth.
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It was the Mets’ first cycle since Scott Hairston did it in 2012, and Escobar knew when he stepped into the box exactly where he was and what he needed. He said when the ball dropped onto the right field grass, he was sprinting for third base regardless.
“I was happy he did,” shortstop Francisco Lindor said. “Those don’t come too often.”
“I was really happy for what he did tonight,” said starter Carlos Carrasco, who struck out 10 while allowing just two runs over seven innings in positioning the Mets for their third win in the first five games of this 10-game western trip.
Escobar’s energy is contagious and his personality infectious. Long a popular clubhouse presence in Minnesota, Arizona and Milwaukee, Escobar signed a two-year, $ 20 million deal with the Mets on Dec. 1, just ahead of the lockout. After a tepid start, Escobar hit just .212 in the month of May. But he’s now 20 for 60 (.333) over his past 14 games.
And his past two games are trending even better.
It was Escobar’s sacrifice fly at the end of a grueling 10-pitch at-bat in the eighth inning on Sunday in Los Angeles that briefly gave the Mets a 3-2 lead before the Dodgers tied it and the Mets won 5-4 in the 10th. He fouled off five pitches during the at-bat against Brusdar Graterol, including four in a row before driving home a run.
“I think his teammates will tell you that at-bat yesterday might have been one of the best of the year,” Showalter said. “It kind of typifies the example everybody tries to set and follow.”
Then came Monday’s series-opener in San Diego and a 4 for 5 night with six RBI It was the 11th overall cycle in Mets history, and the first by any player in the 19-year history of Petco Park.
Escobar credited hitting coach Eric Chavez and his teammates for helping push him through the doldrums earlier in the season when he was fighting to get into a groove at the plate. “Your moment is coming,” he said several told him.
They were speaking in the general sense, of course. But Monday spent to be another special moment in a string of them so far this season for the Mets.
“It adds to the journey,” Lindor said.
Escobar was greeted by a standing ovation from a small contingent of Mets fans who had gathered behind the Petco Park visitors’ dugout for an impromptu celebration.
Yes, Escobar noticed them.
“Great moment,” he said. “It’s unbelievable.”
Then the dugout exploded upon his arrival when the inning was over.
“Very quietly, he’s reverting to his track record,” Showalter said. “That’s why you trust guys like him that have such good makeup and so much want-to. He gets frustrated, but he never takes it out in the field and never takes it into the clubhouse. He’s a good example for everybody.
“I think everybody takes a little special emotion out of it. It was pretty fun in the clubhouse. His statement about ‘I’m proud of you’ all the time, they dropped it on him tonight. “