Francisco Lindor breaks through as Mets close road trip on high note


SAN FRANCISCO — Sitting at his corner locker in the visiting clubhouse Wednesday morning, Francisco Lindor was as optimistic as ever.

The night before, changeup after changeup from San Francisco Giants starter Logan Webb made Lindor look silly. So, nearly a month into the season with his batting average on the interstate and his left-handed average below .150, how close did Lindor feel to finding his swing from that side?

“I’m there. I’m there,” the New York Mets shortstop said confidently. “It’s just a matter of getting the hits.”

The hits showed up on Wednesday.

Lindor collected his first four-hit game since last August, including a pair of two-run homers in the Mets’ 8-2 win over the Giants. New York avoided the sweep and closed its West Coast trip with a 3-3 record.

“That man’s a dawg,” said Tyrone Taylor, who homered and drove in three. “He rakes.”

Lindor’s two-run homer off Sean Hjelle in the third gave New York its first lead since Saturday. His two-run homer off Mitch White in the ninth was crushed, a no-doubter off the bat.

He also collected an infield single in the first and a ground-ball single in the seventh. His OPS for the season jumped 114 points on the day; from the left side, it leaped from .459 to .608.

“It’s baseball,” Lindor said after the game. “Yesterday it didn’t seem like I was on any pitch. Today I was on most of the pitches.”

Lindor began breaking out of his season-long slump from the left side over the weekend in Los Angeles. He pointed to his first at-bat of that series — a strikeout against Yoshinobu Yamamoto — as when he felt ready to bust out.

“Even though I struck out and didn’t swing the bat, I felt like it was a productive at-bat for me,” Lindor said before the game Wednesday. “(It was) being in control, it’s my at-bat. When I’m there, that’s when I know things are going to start following.”

Lindor hammered a go-ahead two-run homer later that game, then had two more hits on Saturday. A 1-for-9 stretch the next three days, including four rough at-bats against Webb on Tuesday, didn’t temper Lindor’s optimism.

“We’ve got to stay the course,” hitting coach Jeremy Barnes said before the game. “The worst thing we can do is panic and start searching for answers and change a lot of stuff and not know how to get back to where we were. Work the problem in front of us, try to stay as unemotional as we can about it and keep going forward.”

Barnes noted that many of Lindor’s peripheral stats align with his career-long track record.

“Honestly, things have been extremely similar to the past,” Barnes said. “In a lot of ways, he’s made more contact this year than he has in the past. His decisions have overall been better than they have been in the past. The results of batted ball stuff are a little bit lower, a few more ground balls.”

Lindor is chasing less than ever; his strikeout rate is his lowest while a Met. However, his average exit velocity and his expected slugging numbers are both down.

That’s what makes Wednesday’s swings so welcome for the Mets. When the Mets left for this West Coast trip, Lindor didn’t have an extra-base hit from the left side. Now he’s got four.

“We knew he could drive the ball with authority,” manager Carlos Mendoza said.

“The one thing you want to carry over,” Lindor said postgame, “is the feeling of being successful. When you start getting a couple hits, it feels good.”

Lindor wasn’t the only one hitting on Wednesday. Over the first two games of the series, Starling Marte and Pete Alonso combined for nine of New York’s 11 hits. On Wednesday, Taylor contributed a solo homer and a two-run double. Jeff McNeil had two hits. The Mets kept the line moving.

“We could be really deep,” Barnes said pregame. “It’s definitely promising to know we’ve done some really good things offensively and it hasn’t just been Lindor and (Brandon) Nimmo and Pete leading the charge. It’s nice to see it spread around. You just want to make sure all the big guys get going.”

The Mets expect to add another big guy Friday in J.D. Martinez.

“I feel like we’re not close to where we want to be and should be,” Lindor said of the offense. “It’s going to continue to grow and get better.”

(Photo of Francisco Lindor: Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

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