Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Yoenis Cespedes hits three of Mets’ seven home runs vs. Phillies on Tuesday

4 Comments

Yoenis Cespedes became the first member of the Mets to have multiple three-homer games for the team. He hit a trio of homers on August 21, 2015 against the Rockies. He then accomplished the feat once more on Tuesday night against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in a 14-4 victory.

Cespedes hit his first home run with no outs and two runners on base in the top of the first inning against Clay Buchholz, swatting a fly ball out towards the batter’s eye in center field. Adam Morgan relieved Buchholz, who exited in the third inning with a forearm injury. Cespedes victimized Morgan with a no-doubt solo home run down the left field line in the fourth inning for his second dinger. In the fifth, Cespedes went deep for a third time, swatting another solo home run off of Morgan.

Cespedes had two shots to hit a fourth home run, but settled for a well-struck double to center field in the seventh and a ground out in the eighth. After Tuesday’s performance, he’s hitting .250/.333/.688 with four home runs and six RBI in 36 plate appearances.

Lucas Duda hit two homers of his own on Tuesday night. Asdrubal Cabrera and Travis d'Arnaud also homered, giving the Mets seven on the evening. Seven marks the most home runs the Mets have hit in a game since August 24, 2015, when they hit eight home runs in a 16-7 win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. In fact, the Mets have hit six-plus homers in a game four times since the start of the millennium, and all four have come against the Phillies in Philadelphia at Citizens Bank Park. The others: six on April 19, 2016 and seven on April 19, 2005.

To put Tuesday night in perspective, 12 teams entered Tuesday with fewer home runs than the Mets hit against the Phillies. The Mets nearly doubled their season output in home runs from eight to 15.

MLB managers weigh in on anthem protests

Getty Images
Leave a comment

No other Major League Baseball player has taken a knee during the National Anthem since Athletics’ catcher Bruce Maxwell‘s protest on Saturday night. The demonstration was sparked by President Donald Trump’s call for the boycott of the National Football League and the firing of any player who chose not to stand during the anthem. The comments drew harsh criticism from many NFL players, coaches and owners and more than a few in MLB have also lended their support. There is still one game left to play on Sunday, but it’s unclear whether any of Maxwell’s league-mates will show their solidarity by refusing to stand as well.

Given a baseball culture that tends toward conformity more often than not, it seems unlikely. But it’s something league managers are prepared for — even if they don’t all agree with the demonstrations themselves.

White Sox’ skipper Rick Renteria specifically addressed Maxwell’s protest on Sunday, speaking to the league’s policy of inclusivity:

None of the White Sox knelt prior to their series finale against the Royals. Neither did members of the Pirates or the Cardinals, though St. Louis manager Mike Matheny and Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington both weighed in on the situation.

Matheny called the president’s comments “hurtful” and, like the Cubs’ Joe Maddon, appeared content to leave the decision to protest up to each player.

The Pirates, meanwhile, took a firmer tone. “We appreciate our players’ desire and ability to express their opinions respectfully and when done properly,” GM Huntington told Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “When done appropriately and properly, we certainly have respect for our players’ ability to voice their opinion.”

Just what the Pirates consider “appropriate and proper” protocol was left up in the air, and club president Frank Coonelly offered no further insights in a separate statement to the press. Setting strict parameters for players to voice their opinions kind of puts them in a gray area, one they’ll have to clear up should someone elect to protest in the days to come, either with a bent knee and a hand over their heart or in some other fashion.

Equally ambiguous were comments from Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts, who claimed to oppose the movement for personal, if misguided reasons, but also respected the right of his players to make an “educated” statement in protest.

The Indians’ Terry Francona took what was perhaps the most balanced approach of the entire group:

“It’s easy for me to sit here and say, ‘Well, I think this is the greatest country in the world,’ because I do,” Francona told MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. “But, I also haven’t walked in other people’s shoes. So, until I think, not just our country, but our world, until we realize that, hey, people are actually equal — it shouldn’t be a revelation — and the different doesn’t mean less. It’s just different. We’ve got work to do.”

These may all be moot points. Maxwell may be the only player to formally protest Trump’s comments, despite the good intentions of his teammates and fellow players around the league. Others may feel too ambivalent, threatened or uncomfortable to protest what the A’s catcher referred to as a “racial divide,” especially in a way that is routinely perceived as unpatriotic.

Even if the protests made by NFL players and Bruce Maxwell fail to gain momentum, however, the underlying issues they speak to are not going away anytime soon. Here, then, is where MLB managers can help foster a more inclusive environment throughout the league, not only showing respect for a player’s decision to stand against racism but actively partnering with those who do so. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a start.

Nationals plan to activate Bryce Harper on Monday

Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Nationals are planning to activate Bryce Harper from the 10-day disabled list on Monday, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Janes adds that Harper has been taking his knee injury on a day-to-day basis, so if he experiences pain ahead of tomorrow’s series opener in Philadelphia, then the Nationals won’t activate him.

Harper, 24, suffered a knee injury running out a grounder last month against the Giants. The Nationals hope to get him into some game action before the end of the regular season just so he can get acclimated in time for the playoffs.

When Harper returns, he’ll look to improve on his .326/.419/.614 slash line with 29 home runs, 87 RBI, and 92 runs scored in 472 plate appearances.