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Jay Bruce is Heating Up

Its good to be Jay Bruce these days. Yes, it’s actually the truth.

Bruce homered for the second straight game in the Mets’ 5-2 victory over the Marlins last night at Marlins Park. It was also his third home run in five games.

That constitutes a hot streak, right?

Despite Bruce’s struggles, he has provided a reminder that he can be productive at the plate if he gets hot. Remember he is known to be a streaky hitter.

Maybe this is a start. Better late than never if that’s the case.

I have to admit I am surprised Bruce is on a tear. Yeah, it’s a small sample size, but considering how much he struggled as a Met, this is nothing to scoff at.

The way Bruce has played, it seemed like it was a lost cause. Why else would Mets manager Terry Collins use Eric Campbell to pinch-hit for him last week? With a week to go, it was going to be hard for him to get it going after struggling for so long.

Maybe Yankees radio play-by-play announcer has it right about it’s hard to predict baseball.

When Bruce hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning to give the Mets a 5-2 lead over the Marlins, he had a look of a player that redeemed himself for five weeks of lousy baseball. There was instant gratification after the hard work he put in. It was a sense of happiness from his own end. His players made it a point to embrace him in the dugout.

This has been a tough transitional moment for him. He had to adapt to living and playing in a big market while his wife and his son stayed in Cincinnati. He had to deal with hitting in tough dimensions at Citi Field.

That’s why the Mets were patient with him. They had no choice. They acquired him to boost their offense, which has been struggling at the time.

Bruce rewarded the team’s faith by finally producing for now.

There’s no question he tested the team’s patience. Collins had to bench him recently because he wasn’t getting anything out of Bruce. He had to play other outfielders who has earned more playing time than his struggling outfielder.

In a way, it’s surprising he had playing time this week. With a week to go, Collins have to put his best players to help him win games. There was no time for sentimentality.

This speaks well of Collins that he gives his players a chance to get out of their slump. He is loyal to a fault, but that attribute helps him be a favorite with his players. It’s why they play for him instead of quitting on him.

There’s no question Bruce appreciates Collins giving him a chance to redeem himself.

Maybe we are the problem. We are not patient enough. We expect instant results right away.

Baseball isn’t football or basketball where success comes right away. That’s why it’s the hardest sport to play. It’s not for the faint of heart.

There’s a reason players grind through a long season. There are going to be ups and downs.

Bruce needed to get away from Citi Field. He tried hard to please the crowd. He was worried about hitting for the fences.  He was thinking too much. It was sad to watch.

The true test will be when he plays at Citi Field. The next game he plays there is likely a playoff game.

If he does well then, that would be a good way to get the fans off his case. He can ask Daniel Murphy. Fans got on the former Met for years until he did great in the postseason last year, and now he’s beloved.

Things can turn quickly. That’s the beauty of sports.

Bruce has handled his struggles like a professional. He never blamed anyone. He never offered excuses. He continued to work at it at the batting cage.

Baseball has a way of rewarding players like that.

That time has come for Bruce, and that’s why the Mets are so happy for him. They know the work he has put into each day.

It has come together.

Sure, it’s a small snapshot.

But it beats watching him strike out when he is batting.

Leslie Monteiro
I'm the author of 10 books. If you're looking for autographed copies just go to my Twitter @Sportsology and DM me.

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