Francisco Lindor still does not quite look like himself, but maybe he can resemble the four-time All-Star at the right time.
Pete Alonso had the big bombs, but the Mets’ franchise shortstop added the two-run single that broke open Tuesday’s 9-4 win over the Marlins at loanDepot park in Miami. The hit continued a hot streak at the right time for Lindor.
Alonso has been trying — at times successfully — to carry the offense on his back, but Lindor picked up a bit of the weight with one out in the sixth inning.
The Mets already had blown a pair of two-run leads, and their 5-4 advantage at the time was far from assured. But with the bases loaded, Lindor stroked a two-run single to left-center off Zach Pop to balloon the lead, and the Mets only added to their advantage from there.
“At a time like this and what we’re looking to accomplish, I count on him showing up and turning it up a notch just because of where we are,” manager Luis Rojas said over Zoom after the Mets pulled away in a sloppy game. “He’s been in situations like this before. He’s played a lot of playoff baseball as well. So I think he’s a guy that can very much take advantage at a point like this.”
Yes, the first five months — and all those struggles — matter. September matters, too, and the $341 million shortstop is 7-for-17 (.412) with two home runs, a double, three walks and seven RBIs in his past five games.
Lindor’s OPS (.702) has climbed over one hurdle and is approaching respectability, if not the .871 OPS he posted in his peak season of 2018.
The two-run swing from Lindor, who also walked in getting on base twice in five plate appearances, earned forgiveness from a second-inning error, his eighth of the season.
Miami’s Eddy Alvarez grounded sharply to second, where Lindor was shifted over. Lindor booted the ball, gloved it and threw too late. That proved costly immediately, when opposing pitcher Edward Cabrera doubled in an unearned run.
“We gotta finish plays,” Rojas said after the Mets were charged with three errors in the game.
Lindor’s defense has not been spotless, and his offense has been among the biggest disappointments of the Mets’ season. For a bit of hard-to-swallow perspective, Amed Rosario, who was part of the deal that brought Lindor to Queens, has an OPS of .744 with Cleveland this season.
But there is a decade to go in Lindor’s new contract to determine both the trade and the extension that Mets owner Steve Cohen handed over to the superstar, who is no longer flipping fans the thumbs-down.
And there are still a few weeks for Lindor to inspire the type of hope he has sparked thus far in September.