NEW YORK — The New York Mets told Wilmer Flores the starting shortstop job is open next year, and the young infielder might just win the job with his bat.
Flores homered twice and drove in six runs for the second time this year, Ruben Tejada capped a four-run fourth inning with a two-run double, and the Mets routed the Miami Marlins 9-1 on Sept. 16 night to end a three-game skid.
“I think what he’s done offensively has helped him defensively,” Manager Terry Collins said of Flores, who has been knocked for his play in the field.
Just hours after Commissioner Bud Selig said he was impressed with the manner in which the Mets were rebuilding, the 23-year-old Flores hit a three-run shot in the fifth and a two-run drive in the seventh — both off reliever Brad Penny.
He also had an RBI double in the fourth as the Mets scored their most runs at home since they tallied 11 against the Phillies on July 30. After slowly developing the power stroke the organization thinks he is capable of providing, Flores is 8-for-15 with three homers and 10 RBIs in his last four games. He has six long balls overall.
“Maybe it takes a little more time for some people,” Flores said about finding his swing against big leaguers. “I’m seeing the ball well right now.”
Bartolo Colon (14-12) bounced back from his shortest outing of the year to pitch 7 2-3 innings for New York, allowing one run and a season-high 12 hits. The only extra-base hit was a double to Reed Johnson, who had three hits. He struck out seven without a walk.
“I was able to execute at the right moment to get out of the big inning,” the always smiling Colon said through a translator.
The Mets and Marlins each have 73 wins in the competition for third place in the NL East. New York has two more losses with 10 games to play. Miami, which outhit the Mets 13-12, has 12 games remaining.
The Mets must go 8-2 to avoid their sixth straight losing season.
Curtis Granderson had an RBI single among his three hits, and the Mets handed Nathan Eovaldi (6-12) his sixth straight losing decision over seven starts, dating to Aug. 13. Eovaldi yielded six runs and six hits over 4 1-3 innings.
Flores connected off Penny two batters after Eovaldi was pulled in the fifth. Flores also had six RBIs on June 2 at Philadelphia.
“He’s in a career record for innings, so maybe he could be running out of gas. I don’t know. The ball seems to still be coming out of his hands. He’s just making mistakes,” Marlins Manager Mike Redmond said of Eovaldi. “He’s making mistakes and they’re making him pay.”
(HOWIE RUMBERG, AP Sports Writer)