Showing Value at the Plate and on the Bases, Young Leads the Mets to a Win
Eric Young Jr. sliding into third with a triple in the fourth. He had three hits and scored four runs.
Continue reading the main story ATLANTA — Just before the season, Eric Young Jr. seemed to be the odd man out in the Mets’ outfield, behind Curtis Granderson, Chris Young and Juan Lagares. His speed was his most notable trait, and he was the Mets’ only natural leadoff hitter, but to play, he had to show that the team could not thrive with just anyone leading off.
An injury to Chris Young gave him a chance, but he was trying too hard, overthinking his newly reworked swing. After he went hitless in his first 12 at-bats, Manager Terry Collins sat him down and told him to revert to his old swing, to relax and let his natural ability show.
On Thursday against the Braves, Eric Young showed what he could do. He was electric, a blue blur, getting on base and scoring in a flash. He was instant offense — collecting three hits and three steals and scoring four runs — as the Mets beat the Braves, 6-4, at Turner Field to take the three-game series.
“Tonight he showed he can win games for you,” Collins said.
The Mets needed the offense because Jenrry Mejia was generally uneven. He allowed six hits, four walks and four runs in five innings, although he struck out seven batters. In two starts, he has issued nine walks to go with his 15 strikeouts. The Mets named him their fifth starter at the end of the exhibition season. They were counting on him to mature and fulfill his potential, but the results so far have been mixed.
The Braves’ Justin Upton had Mejia figured out. In the second, Upton lifted an 0-2 cutter to right field for a solo home run. In the third, he came up with one runner on and two outs, although the inning probably should have been over.
His brother, B. J. Upton, had lifted a high fly ball to right field, and almost immediately, Granderson waved his arms as if he could not see the ball. It landed behind him, not far from where he had been standing, and Upton raced to third base. He came around to score on a single by Freddie Freeman.
Two batters later, with two outs, Justin Upton crushed a 1-1 changeup to left field for a two-run homer. Mejia spun and watched it go. He punched his glove, threw it in disgust and walked slowly to pick it up, his hands on his hips. He stayed down, crouched, as Upton rounded the bases.
Upton finished 3 for 4 with two runs scored and three runs batted in.
Young propelled the Mets, showing his value as a leadoff hitter. In the first, he generated a run mostly on his own, slapping a single, stealing second and going to third when catcher Ryan Doumit made a wild throw. Young trotted home as Daniel Murphy grounded out softly to first base.
In the third, Young pushed a bunt down the first-base line for a hit. Then he stole second base and came around to score on a shallow single by David Wright.
In the fifth, Young ripped a deep fly ball to center field that sent B. J. Upton ranging back. The ball bounced off Upton’s glove, and Young sprinted to third for a triple. He scored on a single by Murphy, tying the score, 4-4. Murphy, batting second, drove in Young three times. The two combined for six hits and scored all of the Mets’ runs.
Lagares drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh with a two-out single.
Four Mets drove in at least one run, including Ike Davis, who was making a rare start at first base. It was only his second start in about a week, after Collins declared Lucas Duda the starter for the foreseeable future. Before the game, Collins reiterated that statement, saying Duda would play three of every four games now, with Davis playing occasionally to stay sharp off the bench.
“We made a decision,” Collins said, “and you don’t have much credibility if you keep changing your mind every other day because somebody goes 2 for 4.
Duda was batting .182 to start the season, which helped bring about the questions. Collins said Duda needed to get back to being patient and hitting to the opposite field.
“When it’s hammered in your head by some people that you have to hit the ball out of the ballpark,” Collins said, “sometimes you get out of your game.
Davis went 0 for 3 on Thursday with two walks and an R.B.I. Duda came on as a pinch-hitter and hit an opposite-field single, raising his average to .217.
This weekend against the Los Angeles Angels, Collins can put both of them in the starting lineup, using one in the designated hitter spot.
A version of this article appears in print on April 11, 2014, on page B13 of the New York edition with the headline: Showing Value at the Plate and on the Bases, Young Leads the Mets to a Win.
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