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Mets’ Jeff McNeil rips first homer off lefty in nearly three years

Jeff McNeil was not aware of the stat when it was presented to him, but it made him flash a broad smile.

McNeil’s home run to center field leading off the fourth inning Tuesday night against Reds starter Mike Minor was his first homer off a left-handed pitcher in nearly three years. The previous one came on Sept. 3, 2019 against the Nationals’ Roenis Elias.

“Mac’s always had a good track record with [hitting lefties] because he doesn’t try to do too much,” manager Buck Showalter said after the Mets’ 6-2 win over the Reds. “He put a really good swing on that ball. He’s hit 23 home runs in a year. I think people see a guy choking up on the bat, but he’ll ambush you in a hurry. He’s hit a lot of big home runs for us. He just doesn’t give in, he’s chasing base hits every time he’s in the box. You don’t see him waste at-bats.”

McNeil is a career .291 hitter versus lefties, not far off from his .304 mark versus right-handers, but the homer Tuesday was just the fifth of his 44 career home runs to come off a lefty pitcher.

Jeff McNeil watches his solo homer in the fourth inning of the Mets' 6-2 win.
Jeff McNeil watches his solo homer in the fourth inning of the Mets’ 6-2 win.
Robert Sabo

“Against a left-hander I’m just trying to really not do too much,” McNeil said. “A little bit tougher at-bat, but I got to 1-0 [in the count], and I was looking for a fastball and got some air under it and it went out.”

Mets closer Edwin Diaz and his brother, Reds reliever Alexis Diaz, brought out the lineup cards for their respective teams before the game. Several of their family members have been in attendance at Citi Field during the series, many wearing specially made split jerseys with half Mets colors and logos and half Reds colors and logos.

Mark Canha was hit by a pitch in the seventh inning, giving the Mets an MLB-high 76, hit-by-pitches, on pace to break the club record of 95, which was set in 2019.

“I thought we were falling off the pace, now I guess we’re back ahead of it again,” Showalter said. “It’s got something to do with the way they hit, a little bit. It’s also why they’re good. That’s something that’s pretty obvious to me. Our guys don’t budge.”

Showalter said reliever Tommy Hunter (back) is expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment and should be “on schedule to come back on time” from the injured list on Aug. 21. … Dom Smith (ankle) also continued his rehab assignment with Triple-A Syracuse, going 1-for-4.

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