Catcher Oscar Hernandez made sizeable contact on his first four at-bats against the New York Mets on Wednesday. The 23-year-old Arizona Diamondbacks catcher, in his first major league game this season, just couldn’t catch a break.
Given extra innings and his fifth at-bat, finally, he did.
Off Mets reliever Jerry Blevins, Hernandez smacked a solo homer that cleared the left field foul pole in the top of the 12th inning, and Arizona scratched out a 3-2 victory, its fourth win in five games.
The D-backs took their second series in a row on a night when, until Hernandez’s heroics, nobody but usual suspects Paul Goldschmidt and Jean Segura could muster offense.
Segura scored the first two runs on RBI hits by Goldschmidt, but a two-run home run by the Mets’ Kelly Johnson with one out in the ninth frame sent the game to extras.
As D-backs manager Chip Hale has promised to do, aggressive base-running led to the early scores.
Following a game of five stolen bases Tuesday, Arizona stole four bases and was caught stealing twice on Wednesday.
With one outing left in the visit to the Big Apple, the D-backs have already set a franchise record for stolen bases in a three-game series.
Segura’s third-inning single turned into the first Arizona run when he stole second and then advanced to third on a throwing error by the Mets. Goldschmidt’s single sent him home and, in the eighth, the first baseman again scored the D-backs’ lead-off man from third with a sac-fly.
Hernandez’s solo home run sealed it, and maybe the Mets should have seen it coming. Beforehand, the catcher flew out three times to the left side of the outfield and another time had a fly ball caught near the warning track in right.
His go-ahead homer was his first MLB home run and second career RBI after playing 18 games (31 at-bats) with Arizona last year.
It was a surprise considering he had been batting .196 in 29 Double-A games this season.
But Hernandez’s catching performance was even more impressive in his first game since replacing Welington Castillo, who is on paternity leave.
Hernandez caught seven-plus innings of three-hit, no-run pitching from starter Robbie Ray, who in perhaps his own best MLB game added no walks and four strikeouts.
Ray is the third D-backs lefty to surpass seven innings and allow only three baserunners, joining Brian Anderson and Randy Johnson in that category.
The Diamondbacks’ bullpen continued the strong play, and in the final five innings allowed three hits and just one walk. After walking the only Met on the evening, D-backs closer Jake Barrett allowed one hit — a one-out, two-run homer that tied it in the ninth.
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