Mets rookie delivers winning hit against Braves
NEW YORK — There is a chance that Terry Collins earned his final home win as the New York Mets’ manager on Tuesday night.
If so, the baseball lifer went out in style thanks to a player whose path to the majors was similar to the one Collins walked decades earlier.
Rookie Travis Taijeron delivered the tiebreaking RBI single with one out in the ninth inning, and the Mets came back from a three-run deficit to edge the Atlanta Braves 4-3 at Citi Field.
The hit was just the ninth in 48 major league at-bats for the 28-year-old Taijeron, a 2011 18th-round pick who played 770 minor league games before getting promoted to the Mets on Aug. 26.
“Those are memories that he’ll have forever,” said Collins, who played 671 minor league games without reaching the majors and managed 1,559 games before getting a shot in the bigs in 1994. “Of course, I spent a long time in Triple-A myself, so I know exactly what it’s like to get those opportunities.”
Collins’ opportunity with the Mets may be in its final days. The 68-year-old, who has managed a team-record 1,130 games in New York and led the club to the World Series in 2015, is unsigned beyond this year.
General manager Sandy Alderson said Collins’ future will be discussed after the season. However, with New York at 68-90, the rumor mill has already begun churning with the names of possible replacements for Collins, who told The Bergen Record on Tuesday that he hopes to remain with the Mets.
The New York Post reported earlier Tuesday the Mets are interested in former big league managers Bob Geren, Chip Hale and Robin Ventura as well as Mets hitting coach Kevin Long and Houston Astros bench coach Alex Cora.
For at least one night, though, the only name Collins and the Mets were thinking about was Taijeron’s.
“He just keeps going out and putting up numbers every year and finally (gets) an opportunity,” Collins said. “And I think it’s real cool that we gave him that opportunity.”
Kevin Plawecki, whose two-run homer in the seventh pulled the Mets within 3-2, led off the ninth with a single against A.J. Minter (0-1). Dominic Smith then drew a walk before Minter struck out Amed Rosario.
Taijeron followed with a line drive over the head of left fielder Jace Peterson as pinch runner Juan Lagares raced home. Teammates mobbed Taijeron near second base.
“It means the world, you know?” Taijeron said. “As a kid growing up, you’re thinking about opportunities like this, and you see guys hitting walk-offs when you’re a kid and you’re fired up about that.
“You’re always cheering them, and now I’m in that situation.”
Brandon Nimmo had two hits for the Mets, including a one-out single in the seventh that immediately preceded Plawecki’s homer. Asdrubal Cabrera lofted a sacrifice fly in the eighth that tied the score.
Right-hander Jeurys Familia (2-2) picked up the win with a one-hit ninth.
For the first six innings, it appeared as if Braves right-hander R.A. Dickey would be the baseball lifer authoring a possibly appropriate ending to his career. The 42-year-old, who is pondering retirement after the season, carried a two-hit shutout into the seventh before tiring.
Dickey, who won the National League Cy Young Award with the Mets in 2012, exited with two outs in the seventh to a warm ovation from the crowd of 21,938. He took off his cap as he neared the dugout and waved it in a circular motion.
“This is a place where I really resurrected my career, so there’s some poetry to throwing well here,” said Dickey, who allowed two runs, five hits and no walks while striking out four. “It was nice to get to tip my hat to a bunch of fans who’ve really supported me.”
Nick Markakis (first-inning double), Peterson (second-inning double) and Ozzie Albies (second-inning single) all had run-scoring hits for the Braves.
Markakis, Albies and Freddie Freeman all had two hits apiece.
Atlanta’s Ender Inciarte led off the game with a double for his 200th hit of the season. He is the first Braves player to reach 200 hits since Marquis Grissom in 1996.
“I am enjoying it right now, because it’s so hard to do and I am proud of what I accomplished,” Inciarte said.
Mets right-hander Rafael Montero gave up three runs, eight hits and two walks while striking out three in six innings.
NOTES: The Mets announced LHP Tommy Milone (elbow) and RHP A.J. Ramos (biceps) are both battling injuries. Milone underwent an MRI, and Ramos played catch. ... Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Wednesday. If he comes out of it healthy, he likely would make a brief start this weekend. Syndergaard started and pitched one inning last Saturday in his first major league action since he tore his right lat on April 30. ... Braves RHP R.A. Dickey made his 300th career start and 400th career appearance. ... Braves 1B/OF Matt Adams (hamstring) flied out as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning. Manager Brian Snitker said Adams would likely be limited to pinch-hitting the rest of the season.