NEW YORK (AP) — Todd Frazier is known for longballs more than small ball. Yet without even taking a full swing, he swung things in the New York Mets’ favor.
Frazier cleverly came up with a push bunt and the Mets took off from there, beating the Detroit Tigers 4-3 Sunday for their sixth win in seven games.
“Perfect opportunity,” Frazier said.
Down 3-0, the Mets put runners at the corners with one out in the fourth inning for Frazier. Instantly, he saw the Tigers shift and leave the right side of the infield virtually vacant.
The longtime pro took advantage, pushing a sharp bunt that easily rolled into right field for an RBI single.
“I think it sparked us,” Frazier said, adding, “I looked into the dugout, everyone was fired up.”
A former All-Star Home Run Derby champ, Frazier has four sacrifice bunts in nine seasons as a big leaguer, but none since 2016.
So how long had he been waiting to pull off this kind of play?
“My whole life, to be honest with you. My whole career,” he said.
One out later, Adeiny Hechavarria hit a three-run homer for a 4-3 lead.
Zack Wheeler pitched into the eighth inning as the Mets reached the .500 mark — they trailed in all but one of these recent victories.
Nicholas Castellanos homered and drove in three runs for the Tigers, who have lost 11 of 12.
Edwin Diaz escaped his own jam in the ninth, striking out John Hicks with runners at first and third, then fanning JaCoby Jones with runners at second and third for his 13th save in 14 chances. Jones hopped up and shouted at plate umpire Jerry Meals after being called out on a 3-2 pitch that appeared a touch outside.
“These guys are playing, they’re trying. These are tough losses, but you know what? I’ve got to believe that they’ll come out fighting again tomorrow,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said.
“That’s what they’re doing right now, they’re having some fun doing it. It’s fun in the dugout. They’re into it and that’s all you can ask for,” he added.
Wheeler (4-3) had retired 13 batters in a row before Jones led off the eighth with a single. Wheeler struck out pinch-hitter Miguel Cabrera and was pulled after walking Niko Goodrum.
Jeurys Familia relieved and Dawel Lugo thought he had struck out, mistaking the count after a swing-and-miss and walking back toward the Detroit dugout. Lugo returned to the plate and fanned for real, and Familia struck out Castellanos to end the inning.
Wheeler also singled twice, boosting his batting average to .308.
Rookie starter Spencer Turnbull (2-4) breezed through the first three innings for Detroit. Dominic Smith opened the fourth with a fly to center field and Jones took an odd route, with the ball falling just beyond his glove for a double.
Wilson Ramos singled to put runners at the corners, bringing up Frazier. Detroit left only first baseman Brandon Dixon on the right side, and he was holding Ramos.
Frazier pounced on Turnbull’s first pitch and the ball was placed so well, the slow-footed Ramos cruised into third.
“That was awesome,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said.
Tigers: Claimed RHP Austin Adams off waivers from Minnesota. He gave up five runs over 2 2/3 innings in two games for the Twins. … LHP Matt Hall, who had been called up from Triple-A Toledo before the game, was sent back down.
Mets: RHPs Tim Peterson and Paul Sewald cleared waivers and were outrighted to Triple-A Syracuse.
Jones hit a broken-bat popup in front of the mound in the fifth and didn’t initially run out of the batter’s box. Wheeler had trouble seeing the ball in the sun and dropped it, but had time to throw out Jones.
Gardenhire said he spoke to Jones after the play.
“Got to run the ball out. That’s a pretty simple, basic thing is you don’t take anything for granted and you run and don’t give a chance to get yourself embarrassed. And he did a little bit there and he knows it,” Gardenhire said.
Tigers: Cabrera didn’t start for a day of mostly rest.
Mets: OF Michael Conforto was activated from the seven-day concussion list. He went 0 for 3 and was nicked by a pitch. Conforto was hurt May 16 when he collided with teammate Robinson Cano chasing a pop fly.
Tigers: LHP Daniel Norris (2-2, 4.30 ERA) starts Monday afternoon at Baltimore vs. RHP Gabriel Ynoa (0-1, 5.60).
Mets: Aces meet at Dodger Stadium on Monday when Mets RHP Jacob deGrom (3-5, 3.72) faces LHP Clayton Kershaw (4-0, 3.33).
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