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Eduardo Escobar’s three-run homer the difference in Mets’ win

In the midst of a deep slump in June, Eduardo Escobar promised he would eventually give Mets fans reason to cheer him.

It just took longer than he expected, but better late than never.

The veteran third baseman has become one of the most popular Mets. He keyed a 5-1 victory over the Pirates on Saturday night at Citi Field with a three-run homer, continuing a hot streak that has caused his batting average to climb by 26 points and his OPS to rise by 78 points in recent weeks.

“Now is the perfect time,” the switch-hitting Escobar said through an interpreter. “I’m just going to continue going out there and continue playing my game.”

The turnaround coincided with his return Aug. 27 from a stint on the injured list with a strained left oblique. While he was out, Escobar watched extensive film of himself from previous seasons and tweaked his stance from the left side, going into more of a crouch.

Eduardo Escobar celebrates with Daniel Vogelbach after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning of the Mets' 5-1 win over the Pirates.
Eduardo Escobar celebrates with Daniel Vogelbach after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning of the Mets’ 5-1 win over the Pirates.
Robert Sabo

He has been a different player since his return from the IL. At the time of his injury, Escobar was platooning with Luis Guillorme at third base, predominantly facing left-handers since he was struggling so mightily as a lefty hitter.

Since his return, however, Escobar, who is in his first season as a Met, has raked against both lefties and righties. He has 20 hits in his last 43 at-bats and a 1.360 OPS from the left side dating to Aug. 30.

“It’s just crazy how baseball works,” he said. “There’s a point where you’re only hitting from the right side and then things eventually click. I’m really happy with the work I put in.”

Escobar drilled a three-run home run in the second inning Saturday, nearly homered again in the fourth, worked out a walk in the sixth and singled in the eighth. The productive evening has become familiar for Escobar, who has hit safely in 15 of his last 18 games, and has at least two hits in seven of those.

In September, Escobar now has six home runs, 12 RBIs, a .392 batting average and an OPS of 1.230. It’s already his best month as a Met by a considerable margin. His hot streak has come at a key juncture for the Mets, with so many key regulars struggling. They might not be in first place at the moment without his recent production.

“It’s kind of like Edwin [Diaz] early in his career here. When you get through that, especially here, the strength you gain from it has a chance to really stick with you over the long haul,” manager Buck Showalter said. “That’s why you have to have tough people to play at this level, because there’s going to be failure. Through thick and thin, he was the same guy every day he walked through the door, but you could tell it was killing him.”

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