The majority of the Mets’ starting position players may be back, but the heralded “Bench Mob” is alive and well.
In the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader, Jose Peraza provided the impetus with a game-tying home run in the seventh inning to force extras. Pinch-hitting with the Mets down to their final two outs, Peraza ambushed a first-pitch fastball from Milwaukee’s Josh Hader, sending it over the left-field fence.
“You have a guy like Peraza, you expect him to do something, which is exactly what happened,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said after the game, a 4-3 walk-off win. “He hits the homer. Every at-bat, I think everyone that goes out there, we’re expecting something to happen.”
Hader — whom Rojas referred to as one of the “most dominant closers in the game” — had yet to blow a save or allow a home run this season until Wednesday. After overpowering Kevin Pillar for a five-pitch strikeout to open the frame, Hader looked to be his usual immortal self.
With one swing, Peraza proved otherwise.
Peraza faced Hader during his four-year stint with the Cincinnati Reds, tallying one hit in eight at-bats. He spent the majority of Wednesday’s game in the batting cage, taking swings off left-handed pitching with an eye towards a potential matchup with Hader.
“I spend the whole game pretty much preparing for a moment like that,” Peraza said. “I faced him several times when I was with Cincinnati and that’s how he would beat me, he would beat me with fastballs. So that was what I was expecting him to throw there because he’s a tremendous pitcher and he has a tremendous fastball.”
Despite batting just .215, Peraza has become an invaluable component of the Mets’ success. Five of his six home runs and 10 of his 18 RBI have either tied the game or given the Mets the lead. Recently, he has continued to flourish in spite of reduced playing time, now batting .555 off the bench.
With J.D. Davis on a rehab assignment at Triple-A, Peraza’s roster status is increasingly tenuous. Having reached five years of MLB service time, Peraza can decline an option to the minors.
But at the moment, that’s not his focus.
“The most important thing for me is to win and do my job,” Peraza said.
And on Wednesday, he ignited the Mets’ comeback by doing just that.