Mike Fitzpatrick, Associated Press
Jay Bruce and the rest of the Mets knew they needed to come out of the All-Star break with a bang.
That’s exactly what they’ve done.
Bruce and pitcher Seth Lugo homered during an early burst that sent New York past Colorado 9-3 on Saturday night for its second straight blowout of the reeling Rockies.
Jose Reyes also went deep and Lucas Duda had a two-run double as the Mets took full advantage of a calf injury that knocked wild Colorado starter Tyler Chatwood from the game in the first inning. Lugo (4-2) worked into the seventh with a big lead, but New York slugger Yoenis Cespedes left in the sixth with a sore hip .
“I doubt he’s going to be in there tomorrow, just as a precaution,” manager Terry Collins said .
Speaking through a translator, Cespedes said he has “a little” discomfort but the doctor told him “there’s nothing serious going on.”
“I think I could have definitely kept on playing, it’s just because of the score of the game we just decided to play it safe,” he explained.
Chatwood (6-11) said his right calf began bothering him while he was warming up in the bullpen, but he tried to pitch through it. He got only one out and threw just five of 19 pitches for strikes while walking three of the five batters he faced.
After giving up Bruce’s three-run shot to straightaway center field and a four-pitch walk, the right-hander was checked on the mound by manager Bud Black and a trainer. Chatwood made three wide practice pitches and was replaced by lefty Chris Rusin.
The quick departure stressed Colorado’s bullpen once again after starter Jon Gray lasted only two-plus innings in a 14-2 defeat the night before.
“I couldn’t get the ball down. I couldn’t push off of it, so I was essentially using all arm, which isn’t ideal for a guy who’s had two Tommy John (operations),” Chatwood said . “I thought we needed innings tonight and I was trying to provide some of it, but I didn’t do a very good job of that at all.”
Black said Chatwood has a strained calf and it’s too early to tell how long he might be sidelined.
After leading the NL West on June 20, the struggling Rockies have hit the skids. They have a 5 1/2-game lead for the league’s second wild card, but have dropped 15 of 20 overall.
The Mets came out of the break well aware they needed to make up ground immediately to dissuade general manager Sandy Alderson from shipping off veterans before the July 31 trade deadline. Off to an excellent start, they moved within 8 1/2 games of Colorado (six in the loss column) for the final NL playoff spot.
“I think the next five series, we’ve got to really take advantage of the teams we’re playing and do what we do,” Lugo said.
Lugo hit his first home run since college to make it 8-0 in the third, driving an 89 mph slider from Rusin to left-center on fireworks night at Citi Field. “Jogging around the bases was pretty surreal. I always looked forward to that moment when I was little kid, you know? That was pretty killer,” Lugo said.
A career .200 hitter in the majors (5 for 25) coming into the game, Lugo got the silent treatment from teammates when he returned to the dugout with a sheepish grin. They completely ignored him as he feigned high-fives before excited Mets finally swarmed him in celebration on the bench. “That just came naturally,” Lugo said. “I knew I was going to get a home run sometime, but had to give it to myself.”
New York has won 18 straight games in which a Mets pitcher has homered, a streak that began in 1996.
Rockies: LF-1B Ian Desmond could be activated Sunday. He’s been on the DL since July 3 with a strained right calf but came out of Saturday’s pregame workout “very well,” Black said. … All-Star 3B Nolan Arenado was back in the lineup after leaving Friday night’s blowout in the fifth inning with a tight hip. … OF David Dahl (ribs) was scheduled to play for Triple-A Albuquerque again after going 1 for 4 on Friday in his first game since his rehab assignment was moved from Class-A Lancaster. Black said Dahl has “a long way to go” before returning to the Rockies because he just started getting competitive at-bats. … RHP Chad Bettis is scheduled to make his second rehab start Tuesday for Double-A Hartford as he works his way back from testicular cancer. After that outing, he’s projected to go to Triple-A, Black said.
Mets: Cespedes left after he landed hard on his right knee and dislodged a huge divot in left field while trying to make a sliding catch. The slugger returned from the DL on June 10 after missing six weeks with a strained left hamstring.
Rookie RHP Jeff Hoffman (5-1, 4.15 ERA) starts the series finale Sunday for Colorado against LHP Steven Matz (2-2, 3.05). Hoffman, drafted ninth overall by Toronto in 2014, is 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA in four road starts this year. Matz had lasted at least six innings in 10 consecutive starts before getting chased in the fifth Sunday during a 6-0 loss at St. Louis.