NEW YORK – Thursday was a special day at Citi Field, but it was also an important day.

As Major League Baseball celebrated Roberto Clemente Day with several players choosing to wear No. 21 league-wide, the day took on added significance in Queens.

Members of the Clemente family were in attendance – Carlos Jr. and Carlos III threw the first pitch – along with 15 past recipients of the Roberto Clemente Award, given annually to a player who exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship and sportsmanship. community engagement.

But the Mets also badly needed a win after suffering a three-game sweep at the hands of the Cubs. Carlos Carrasco, who received the award in 2019, and Francisco Lindor delivered and led the Mets to a 7-1 win over the Pirates at Citi Field.

“I’m just so proud of MLB and our organization, for everyone to step back and remember what it means to so many people,” Buck Showalter said. “I think it’s important for baseball to recognize that. I’m glad to see we played well that night as well.”

Francisco Lindor pays tribute to a legend

As a Puerto Rican-born baseball player, Lindor has great respect for what Clemente meant to the game of baseball and his homeland.

Buck Showalter was originally going to use Lindor in the designated hitter role, but knew how much that day meant for the Mets shortstop.

“I want to be in the field. That’s what I do. I’m a shortstop,” Lindor said. “I want to be on the pitch. I don’t want to be in the dugout all the time. On a day like today, being on the pitch to honor him is special.”

Lindor did not disappoint.

Late in the third inning, Lindor homered a 398-foot two-run homer against JT Brubaker in the second deck of right field. With his 24th homer, Lindor set a Mets single-season record for most home runs by a shortstop, surpassing Asdrubal Cabrera’s mark set in 2018.

“It’s a blessing, it’s an honor to be in elite company, but I play the game to win and I want to win,” Lindor said. “We’re doing it right now. I think it’s going to mean a lot more about winning the World Series than being the best homerun shortstop ever.”

Meanwhile, Lindor also set a new career high for RBI in one season by taking his total to 94.

Carlos Carrasco provides a lift

New York Mets pitcher Carlos Carrasco reacts during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, in New York City.

In 2019, while in Cleveland, Carrasco had to be sidelined from baseball as he battled a treatable form of leukemia.

Despite the illness, Carrasco continued to visit children who were battling illness in the hospital. These community efforts resulted in Carrasco receiving the Roberto Clemente Award. The Mets starting pitcher continues to brighten children’s lives every year through his foundation.

“I pitched (same day) in 2020, went seven innings and won that game,” Carrasco said. “Today, back to back, I had the opportunity to present Clemente Day and it was really special for me.”

Carrasco also helped lift the spirits of Mets fans on Thursday night.

A night after starter David Peterson managed just one out, Carrasco fought off early traffic to make one of his best starts of the season.

Leading with his change, Carrasco finished with a season-high 11 strikeouts and fielded the last eight batters he faced. He came out for the sixth inning after throwing 95 pitches in five and capped his outing with a nine-pitch inning. He allowed one earned run on four hits and two walks.

“I was thinking about the game yesterday. They used the whole bullpen. I said, ‘OK, three innings, 60 pitches, I can’t do that to the bullpen and the team. I just need to go a little further,'” Carrasco said. “I was trying to get a lot of ground balls and not strikeouts, but in the end I got a lot of strikeouts.”

Learn more about Clement

Former Roberto Clemente Award recipients pose for a photo with Roberto Clemente Jr. and Roberto Clemente III, center, before a baseball game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets on Roberto Clemente Day, Thursday, September 15 2022, in New York.

It has been 50 years since Clemente died in a plane crash on his way to a humanitarian mission in Nicaragua.

Moreover, it is also the 21st celebration of Roberto Clemente Day.

To celebrate, several of the prestigious award recipients gathered at Citi Field, including former Mets Al Leiter, Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran and Curtis Granderson.

“It was always unusual to receive something or be recognized because we were just doing something that we knew was right,” Leiter said. “I know everyone on some level feels that way. I’m honored. This trophy is displayed prominently and every year I couldn’t be more proud. And knowing the Clemente family and what you have done to honor your father, it is eternal.”

Both teams wore Clemente’s number to show respect for the 15-time All-Star, who was the first Caribbean and Latin American player inducted into the Hall of Fame. Clemente was outspoken about social injustice off the pitch and active in many charitable causes.

Carlos Delgado added, “It’s not just a trophy. Growing up in Puerto Rico, ever since you were a little kid, you start to understand how awesome he was. Fifty years later, we talk about it like if it were today. I think that legacy continues to grow.”