Wednesday night, Duda delivered.
Duda hit his 11th homer of the year and drove in two runs in the Mets' 5-1 win over the Cardinals at Citi Field. Duda hit a solo shot in the fourth to give the Mets a 3-0 lead and also had an RBI single in the first inning to make it 2-0. Duda now is tied for the team lead in homers and has 22 RBIs.
"It's invaluable," Mets manager Terry Collins said of Duda providing power. "I can't tell you the difference it will make if he starts driving in runs. Not just via the home run but just big hits."
Collins said he entered the season believing the team needed Duda, Davis, David Wright and Daniel Murphy to be big run producers. Wright and Murphy have held up their end of the bargain, but Davis has struggled and Duda has been inconsistent. His lack of production with runners in scoring position has limited him to those 22 RBIs, despite the 11 homers, and a .231 average.
Wright is able to provide a good power source from the right side, but Davis' lack of homers and a dearth of mashing lefties leaves the Mets overly dependent on Duda. Wright said the team is expecting Duda to drive in runs and have big at-bats, and he's seen progress from the lumbering outfielder.
"He's hit some home runs, but to be able to bear down in the situation where there are some runners in scoring position, where maybe you need just a run-scoring single, I think is something he seems more comfortable in that role now than he was previous years or even at the beginning of this year," Wright said.
Earlier this week, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he doesn't view Duda as a player that is part of the team's core moving forward. Duda didn't specifically address those comments after the win.
"Just take it day by day," Duda said. "That's all you can really do. Play baseball and have fun."
BIG PLAY: Daniel Murphy helped pad the Mets lead in the first inning with great base running.
With the Mets up 1-0 with two outs and Murphy at the first, Duda hit a single to right. Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran fielded it and threw to second, but as the throw came in, Murphy rounded third and was able to beat a throw to the plate to give the Mets a 2-0 lead.
"One of the things we always want to do is score from first, 3-2, on a long single in that situation," Wright said. " Obviously Murphy was hustling and [third base coach] Tim Teufel did a nice job with the call, he saw that Beltran was going to second and kept waving. I think that's something we have to do is be aggressive on the base paths. Something we preach is we got to be able to take that extra base, got to be able to put that extra pressure on the defense and that play exemplifies that."