Cespedes Returns to Mets with Game-Winning Home Run Over Braves

After 734 days, Yoenis Cespedes returned to the Mets lineup just where he left off, with a home run, propelling New York to a 1-0 win on Opening Day against the Atlanta Braves.

In the seventh inning of a scoreless game, Cespedes walked up to bat with his classic Lion King song blaring through the speakers on a silent summer evening at Citi Field. Today, unlike two years and four days ago since he last stepped into the batter box, Cespedes was the designated hitter, which is new for the National League. 

The second pitch of his at-bat against Chris Martin was a 93 mile per hour fastball over the outer edge of home plate. Cespedes crushed the ball 406 yards to deep left field and gave the Mets the lead.

Cespedes looked healthy after injuries and setbacks resulted in the former All-Star a majority of his time with the team since his dominating performance during the 2015 World Series run.

Where the Mets did not shine offensively, Jacob deGrom and the New York pitching staff made up for on the mound.

DeGrom, who new manager Luis Rojas said would be limited to around 80 pitches due to back stiffness dating back a few weeks ago, was lights out and looking to be in mid-season form. He was constantly bringing the heat during his five innings on the bump, consistently hitting 99 and 100 mph. Over the five innings, he recorded one walk and struckout eight.

It was Seth Lugo, however, who snagged the win after two innings of relief and striking out three. Lugo was able to escape the seventh inning with a runner on third unscathed.

All eyes were ultimately on Edwin Diaz, who got the nod as closer for the Amazin’s.

Diaz, who only had 26 saves in his first year with the Mets after recording 57 saves the season before with the Seattle Mariners, got a quick out on a one-pitch ground out. He proceeded to walk Freddie Freeman. With Freeman on first, Diaz forced a ground out to third and then got Ronald Acuna Jr. looking on a 99 mph four-seam fastball to win the game.

The Mets will look to continue after its historic Opening Day success on Saturday against the Braves as Steven Matz takes the mound for the blue and orange against Max Fried.


Photo: (Kathy Willens/Associated Press)

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