NEW YORK – Javier Báez and his New York Mets teammates turned boos into cheers this weekend and then gave their own fans a thumbs down.
Baez hit a home run Sunday that traveled 44 feet in a 9-4 victory over the Washington Nationals. After the game, the Puerto Rican infielder said the Mets players lowered their thumbs in response to fans who booed the team during an August into oblivion.
“When we go bad, they boo us,” Baez said. “So they will be booed when we do well.”
Mets president Sandy Alderson deplored those statements and signals.
“These comments, and any deeds on the part of him or other players with a similar intention, are totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Alderson said in a statement.
“Mets fans are understandably frustrated with the team’s recent performance. The players and organization are just as frustrated, but the fans at Citi Field have every right to express their own disappointment. Booing is a right for all amateur “.
The Mets are 8-19, moving from first to third in the National League East, seven and a half games behind the leading Atlanta Braves.
Baez, his compatriot and friend Francisco Lindor and Kevin Pillar gave the thumbs up on Sunday.
Baez, who is hitting .210 with 22 strikeouts in 62 at-bats after being acquired in a trade with the Chicago Cubs on July 30, said the boo is not upsetting but discouraging.
“I love the fans very much and I like to play for the fans,” Baez said. “But we can’t have the fans against it.”
Dominican manager Luis Rojas, who on Wednesday heard chants calling for his firing on Wednesday during a loss to the San Francisco Giants, said he was not aware of the significance of the gesture.
“I don’t think there was an intention to take it out on the fans,” Rojas said. “We want to win for the team. We want to win for ourselves, for our bosses, our owner, our fans. That should be our focus.”
Rojas added that Baez’s reaction could be due to the adaptation process to the first trade of his career. Lindor, who signed a 10-year extension before making his debut with the Mets, and Pillar also serve their first seasons in New York.
On Sunday, Lindor forced a balk and drove in two runs with a double, while Jonathan Villar added a home run.
The Mets won two of the three games and took a series for the first time since they swept the same Nationals in three games between Aug. 10-12.
Josh Bell hit a pair of home runs for Washington and Juan Soto also disappeared. Those were the Nationals’ only three hits in the game.
Lindor set the tone for the Mets by dancing to third base in the first inning and forced a balk from Erick Fedde (6-9). It was Washington’s first balk of the season and the first time the Mets have scored via a balk since March 30, 2019, also against the Nationals.
Baez increased the Mets’ lead with his 444-foot, two-run RBI hit in the fourth inning that made it 3-2. Villar added a two-run homer in the sixth, a triple and a single, and scored three times.
Tylor Megill (2-3) allowed two runs with one hit – a two-run homer by Bell in the fourth inning – walked three and struck out five in five innings. Four Mets relievers each pitched one inning to complete the three-hitter.
Venezuelan Alcides Escobar went 4-0 and his 10-game hitting streak came to an end.
For the Nationals, the Dominicans Juan Soto 2-1 with two runs scored and one RBI, and Víctor Robles 1-0. The Venezuelan Escobar 4-0. The Cuban Yadiel Hernández 3-0.
For the Mets, Jonathan Villar of 5-3 with three runs scored and two RBIs. The Puerto Ricans Lindor 5-1 with a run scored and two RBIs, and Baez 4-1 with one run scored and two RBIs.