Robinson Cano has big night in return to Mets’ lineup

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Robinson Cano was the Mets’ hottest hitter before he went on the injured list and though his homer and RBI single weren’t enough Friday night, Cano looked like he picked up where he left off.

Serving as the DH in his first game back from a left groin strain, Cano hit a long home run in the third and tied the game in the top of the ninth before the Mets lost it in the bottom of the inning in a 6-5 loss to the Phillies.

“It’s almost like he didn’t lose a beat from the day he got hurt,’’ manager Luis Rojas said.

Though the 37-year-old showed he’s capable of performing as a DH, Rojas stressed the Mets still need him at second base.

The season started with Yoenis Cespedes as the Mets’ primary DH, but various players have been inserted into the spot since Cespedes opted out from the season nearly two weeks ago.

“We have to get [Cano] on the field, as well,” Rojas said before the game. “Robbie is a good defender for us. He can do a lot of things and we can use that DH spot for other guys to keep them fresh as well in that rotation. … That DH spot is crucial for the health of the players throughout this quick ramp up and the heat and everything the guys are encountering the season.”

Robinson Cano rounds the bases after hitting a home run during the Mets' 6-5 loss to the Phillies on Friday night.
Robinson Cano rounds the bases after hitting a home run during the Mets’ 6-5 loss to the Phillies on Friday night.AP

It’s also important that Cano hit like he did on Friday, as he proved he was healthy.

After Dom Smith homered with two outs in the third, Cano went deep, as well, with a shot off the second deck at Citizens Bank Park.

Then, with the Mets down to their final out against Phillies’ closer Hector Neris, Cano delivered again.

Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto reached to start the inning, but Pete Alonso and Smith both struck out.

Cano drilled the first pitch he saw from Neris into right field, scoring Nimmo to tie the game. Wilson Ramos then grounded out to end the inning and Seth Lugo lost it in the bottom of the ninth when he allowed a game-winning RBI single to Bryce Harper, but the Mets remain encouraged by what Cano did before he hit the IL — and what he did again Friday.

“He feels really good,’’ Rojas said. “In conversations with him and how he looks on the field and he’s also coming out of the box looks really good. He’s swung the bat good. I have no concerns with him.”

— Additional reporting by Mike Puma in Philadelphia

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