Sunday, September 23, 2012
Tejada gives Mets the sweep
By Matt Ehalt
Ruben Tejada wants to head into the offseason on a good note.
"Its' really important for me and the team," Tejada said. "Everybody wants to finish strong and help the team to keep their head up and play hard every day."
Sunday, he took a step in that direction as his walk-off single gave the Mets a 3-2 win over the Marlins and a sweep of their division foes. The Mets have 10 games left for Tejada to leave his mark in his first year as the team's starting shortstop.
"Obviously Ruben's had an outstanding year," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I had all the confidence in the world that one or two times they walked to get to him he'd get a hit. He's got a bright future ahead of him and I think if he finishes this season well offensively, or no matter what happens, getting through this season with that little blip we had early with the leg injury, it will be really good for him going forward to next spring."
Tejada entered the season with perhaps as much pressure as any member of the Mets as he had to fill the shoes vacated by Jose Reyes. He got off to a hot start, although a quad injury sidelined him for nearly a month and half spanning May to June.
Now, as the season comes to its slow conclusion, he's working hard to make sure there's optimism about his future heading into the 2013 season. Sunday, he showed fortitude by bouncing back from an eighth-inning error as well as failing to drive in the go-ahead run in the seventh.
With the game tied at 2-2 with two on and two outs in the ninth, Miami's Ryan Webb walked Fred Lewis to face Tejada, who had been 0-for-4 in the game. Tejada made the Marlins pay as he stroked a clean single to left-center. It's the second time he's had a walkoff hit, the last one coming a little more than two years ago. He's batting .287 with one homer and 23 RBIs after his 1-for-5 day.
"It's great," Tejada said of his game-winning hit. "Every at-bat is a new day for me. Every at-bat I try to lock into the situation. It's tough but everyone wants a situation like that."
Tejada's relaxed demeanor and steady play have impressed his manager and teammates. Collins said he knew his shortstop wanted to atone for his error and notch a big hit, and he believed that Tejada would be able to put the ball in play. Third baseman David Wright sees from Tejada the type of attitude needed to be a successful shortstop in the majors.
"It doesn't seem like anything fazes him that much and that's impressive and you need that especially playing shortstop," Wright said. "You need that kind of cool, calm attitude and he seemed like he took a few deep breaths and relaxed up there."