Jason Bay finally has something to smile about.
Through nearly the entire first three months of the season, littered with a low batting average, lack of power and time on the disabled list for Bay, Mets manager Terry Collins had rarely seen his left fielder smile.
After a grand slam vs. Detroit on June 28, Collins saw the first smile from Bay in quite some time. Sunday, Collins saw it once again, this time following a walk-off single to center that gave the Mets a 3-2 win over the Yankees in 10 innings.
“Nobody cares to help this team more than Jason Bay does,” Collins said. “It’s great to see him come through in the clutch like this.”
Bay started the ninth-inning rally that tied the game and delivered his first walk-off hit as a Met in the Subway Series finale on Sunday at Citi Field. Bay collected his fourth walk-off hit of his career and his first since 2008.
“I don’t have a ranking system, but this feels like (my biggest hit as a Met) right now,” Bay said.
While Bay has struggled to find his power at Citi Field and be the middle-of-the-order bat that the Mets signed him to be two winters ago, he’s starting to show life at the plate in the past few weeks. He’s hitting .344 over his last 16 games and is hitting .364 during his six-game hitting streak.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning Sunday, Bay stepped to the plate trying to salvage the final game of the Subway Series. Facing Yankees reliever Hector Noesi, who the Yankees specifically brought in to face Bay, the outfielder singled to right-center on an 0-1 pitch to score Scott Hairston and give the Mets their second walkoff win of the season.
Bay finished 2-for-4 on the day with a run, a walk and an RBI. He was grateful for the chance to try and win the game for his team, talking about how he’s been in that situation throughout his career yet he focuses on making sure his failures don’t affect him.
“What I have or haven’t done hasn’t meant anything right now,” Bay said about those type of opportunities. “It’s easier said than done, but it was one of those situations were I was like alright, this would be a good time to do it and not that it’s easy to flip the switch but it felt great.”
Bay’s heroics were set-up by his walk in the ninth inning that led to the Mets tying the game against Mariano Rivera. Down to their final out and final strike, Bay worked a walk against the Yankees closer, taking first when Rivera missed down and away. Rivera had only walked four batters this season before that at-bat.
With Bay giving the Mets some life, Lucas Duda followed with a single to center and Bay scored the tying run when Ronny Paulino singled between first and second. The Mets won just their second game this year when trailing after eight innings.
“We’ve been seeing Jason Bay get better and better with each game, this last week I thought his at-bats have been very good,” Collins said. “The other day in Detroit he was talking about how he is seeing the ball better and feeling more relaxed at the plate and it’s carrying over to this series. I thought he had good at-bats here also.”
With everything that Bay has endured during his tough first two seasons as a Met, his teammates were pleased to see Bay have some success---and crack a smile.
“He deserves it. I’ve said it before. Nobody works harder than he does,” pitcher R.A. Dickey said. You hurt for him when he doesn’t do well and it makes times like this feel rich because you can rejoice for him when it does go well, and I am happy for him, I’m very happy.”