Roberto Carlo/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

NEW YORK — Even if New York Mets fans were starting to get sick of Grimace becoming the symbol of the team’s resurgence (and they’re not tired of it one bit, at least not yet), the thing they and the team probably hoped would accompany the lovable purple blob the most is also something closely associated with their new adopted mascot: a Big Mac.

More specifically, a big contribution from Jeff McNeil, something that had been missing during this stretch of good form — at least until Friday night.

McNeil lined a three-run home run just over the right field wall to highlight a four-run sixth inning for the Mets, who defeated the Houston Astros 7-2 inside Citi Field to improve their league-best record record in June to 16-6. Pete Alonso hit a go-ahead solo shot earlier in the sixth while Tyrone Taylor also went deep for New York (40-39), who moved over the .500 mark for the first time since May 2.

While the Mets’ ascent up the standings has been mainly due to their offense tearing the cover off the ball, leading the Majors in average, on-base percentage and OPS while ranking second in slugging during the month of June, McNeil has been conspicuous by his lack of production, coming into tonight batting a paltry .170 in the month and, since May 1, going 29-for-152 (.191) at the plate.

But right before the calendar flips to July, McNeil produced one of his best performances of the season with three hits. The second of those knocks came immediately after Astros third baseman Alex Bregman booted a ground ball with two outs to set the Mets up with runners at the corners while holding onto a 3-2 lead. On the eighth pitch of the at-bat with potential 2024 All-Star pitcher Ronel Blanco, McNeil lined a changeup that barely cleared the wall in right field for his first home run at Citi Field this season and his first dinger since May 22.

New York was able to hold onto the lead as four relievers combined to throw five scoreless innings to close the game after Jose Quintana allowed two runs and six hits in four-plus innings.

Jose Altuve took the first pitch of the game from Quintana and deposited it into the left field bleachers for his 39th career leadoff homer. Houston loaded the bases later in the inning but missed a chance to put up a big number when Mauricio Dubón flied out to center to end the inning.

New York immediately responded with a run in the bottom of the frame, as the first three hitters all reached base before Francisco Alvarez’s one-out sacrifice fly brought home Francisco Lindor to tie the game.

Jeremy Peña gave the Astros the lead back in the third with a two-out single to left that scored Yordan Alvarez from second. One inning later, New York tied it once again on Taylor’s opposite field home run to right-centerfield, the second game in a row in which he has gone yard.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday evening’s game, with photos taken by ALOST staff photographer Roberto Carlo. After clicking on a photo to enlarge the picture, press the left and right arrow buttons on either side of the caption to scroll through the rest of the pictures that appear on the first page. Also, click on the numbers and/or arrow appearing immediately below the picture grid to load the next set of photos. There are 14 pictures in total.

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Tags : Houston AstrosJeff McNeilMajor League BaseballMLBNew York Mets

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