Amazin’ Ten of 2014: #9 – August 24
No Met had quite as much to gain – or lose – in 2014 than Lucas Duda. After the failed outfield experiment of 2012-13, Duda opened the season as backup to Ike Davis at first base. The winds changed, however, on April 18 when Davis earned himself a one-way ticket to Pittsburgh. Suddenly, the Dude was an everyday player again. This time he would make the most of it.
Aug 24, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New York Mets first baseman Lucas Duda (21) watches his home run during the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
#9 – Duda Dings Dodgers (August 24)
By the dog days of summer, Duda had proven himself to be the right choice over Davis. Lebowski socked 24 home runs with 71 RBIs through August 23, providing consistent pop in the absence of the same from Curtis Granderson and David Wright. While the averaged dipped in August (.227), the power stayed, as Lucas pounded five homers in the 22 games leading up to the Mets’ series finale at Dodger Stadium.
New York had dropped the first two in Los Angeles, and Terry Collins’s bunch wanted very much to avoid capping their final West Coast trip of 2014 with a sweep. Duda and company assured there would be no chance of that.
Down 1-0 in the top of the second, Travis d’Arnaud brought the Mets even by taking Kevin Correia deep to dead center. Juan Lagares followed up with a single and scored two batters later when Eric Young, Jr.’s grounder scooted under the gloves of both Dee Gordon and Matt Kemp. EY ended up with a triple and New York ended up with a 2-1 lead.
The second inning was only a bellwether for what would come in the third. Daniel Murphy and David Wright laced back-to-back singles to bring up Duda. With a chance to break the game open, the Dude abided with a mammoth shot three-quarters of the way up the right center bleachers. Not to be outdone, Ruben Tejada poked his own two-run homer over the left field fence three batters later. The shots highlighted a five-run third, and the Mets were beneficiaries of a 7-1 lead.
From there, Bartolo Colon locked in on the mound, cruising through five innings. The Dodgers staged a rally in the bottom of the sixth, as Gordon singled, Yasiel Puig walked, and Adrian Gonzalez singled in a run. But as quickly as the rally started, it was snuffed out.
Matt Kemp hit a hard grounder to Eric Campbell at third. Murphy took the throw and stepped on second for one and rifled to Duda for the second out. A split second later, Duda spotted Puig charging for home and fired to the plate. D’Arnaud applied the tag to a leaping Puig, and the Mets had their first triple play in four years.
Puig took the Dodgers out of the game, and the Mets provided the knockout punch in the seventh. Murphy singled in Matt den Dekker and Duda picked up his fourth RBI with a single to plate Granderson. Lagares’s sac fly made it a three-run inning to make it 10-2.
Aug 24, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New York Mets first baseman Lucas Duda (21) is celebrates with third baseman David Wright (5) after hitting a three run home run during the third inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
After L.A. put up another run back in the eighth, Duda took it upon himself to get it back in the ninth, launching a solo shot to provide the game’s final margin. When he crossed home plate, Big Dude had the best offensive game of his career: 3-5, 2 HR, 5 RBI.
Lucas experienced a power outage for much of September before breaking out for his 29th and 30th home runs during the final weekend. While he still needs to figure out left-handed pitching, Duda promises to be a 30-homer threat for the next several years. Add to him a healthy Wright, normal Granderson, emerging d’Arnaud, and Michael Cuddyer (not to mention the new dimensions), and the Mets of 2015 and beyond promise to provide the power.
August 24: the 9th most Amazin’ game of 2014. We’ll be back for #8 at the end of the week.
Amazin’ Ten of 2014
#10 – DeGrom’s Finale Shuts Down Braves (September 21)
#9 – Duda Dings Dodgers (August 24)
#8 – D’Arnaud’s Return Sparks Thrashing of Kazmir (June 24)
#7 – A Grand(y) Walk-Off (April 25)
#5 – Wheeler’s Beach Party (June 19)
#4 – DeGrom Outduels Peavy (or: “Oh wow!”) [August 2]
#3 – Lagares Silences Doubters for Good (May 17)
#2 – Bartolo Colon, Rally Maker (or: “Let’s watch him run!”) [June 18]