SAN DIEGO -- Yoenis Cespedes insisted he was not trying to beat a pronounced shift when he shot a hit through the vacated right side of the infield with two out in the seventh inning Thursday. The single broke up a no-hit bid by San Diego Padres right-hander Colin Rea. The Padres ultimately beat Cespedes and the New York Mets 5-3.
“In the two at-bats prior to me getting the hit to right field, my front shoulder was flying open,” Cespedes said through an interpreter. “So I adjusted to let the ball get deeper.”
After Cespedes' single, Rea continued on with his shutout bid until surrendering a leadoff homer in the ninth to Curtis Granderson. He departed at that point. Cespedes delivered a two-run homer later in the frame against Brad Hand to cap the scoring.
“None of us was actually trying to do too much. We were aware of what was going on,” Cespedes said of the no-hit bid. “The job was just to try to go to home plate as a team and get the job done to get a hit.”
Mets manager Terry Collins offered a similar postmortem two days earlier at Citi Field, where Atlanta Braves right-hander Matt Wisler limited the Mets to one hit in eight scoreless innings. In reality, the Mets did have some hard-hit balls early against Rea. Center fielder Jon Jay robbed Granderson of an extra-base hit in the third with a sliding catch on the track in left-center. Michael Conforto lined out hard to center the following frame. Conforto finished 0-for-4 and is now hitless in his past 13 at-bats.
“We hit some balls good again tonight,” Collins said. “That’s part of the game. Jon made a tremendous play in center field on Grandy’s ball. It’s one of those things where if they fall in, a lot of times it’s a different inning. But we didn’t make the pitches we normally make and gave up a lot of hits.”
That was a reference to Jacob deGrom struggling with command and allowing three runs on eight hits and a walk in five innings.
As for the shift, which benefited the Padres for much of the night but hurt Rea on Cespedes' single, Collins suggested that San Diego’s use was not more extreme than other teams' strategy.
“It’s part of the game today,” the manager said. “I’ve seen it worse. I’ve seen teams do more.”