Jesse Winker’s uniform has gone from Cincinnati red to Seattle blue, but he still loves wearing the villain’s black hat when he comes to Queens.
Winker, who was booed loudly before each at-bat Saturday against the Mets, hit a tying three-run home run in the seventh inning, then taunted the Citi Field crowd by waving to them as he crossed home plate. But Mets fans got the last laugh when Winker struck out swinging against Edwin Diaz for the final out in the 5-4 Mets’ win.
The seventh-inning tie was short-lived because Mets catcher Patrick Mazeika homered in the bottom of the inning, but Winker’s homer, which made the score 4-4, inspired the latest back-and-forth between the Mets fans and an unlikely villain. Most players who have drawn the ire of Mets fans in the past have greater résumés than Winker, who is batting just .217 even after a 2-for-4 night.
While Winker is not exactly Pete Rose or Chipper Jones, he began firing back at Mets fans in 2019.
He made a sliding catch for the last out of a Reds win that year along the left-field line right in front of Mets fans hanging over the wall. After catching the ball, he looked at the fans, smiled and waved. That came two nights after he had hit a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning. After the Reds won that game, he turned and waved to the fans beyond the left-field wall. Mets fans began to let Winker hear it from that series on.
“They talk loud — and a lot,” Winker said in 2019. “I like to talk back.”
That continued this weekend with Winker returning to Citi Field as a Mariner after he was traded to Seattle in March. Winker knocked in a run on Friday night with a single off of Max Scherzer.
On Saturday night, the Mets were cruising 4-1 when the bullpen got into some trouble. The Mets brought in reliever Chasen Shreve to face Winker with two runners on in the seventh. Winker crushed a 3-1 fastball over the fence in right-center to tie the score. Winker took his time running to first to admire the hit. After he crossed home, he waved to the Mets fans. When he returned to left field for the bottom of the inning, he stretched out his arms and looked at the fans over the left-field fence.
But Mets fans cheered as he swung and missed against Diaz to end the game. They could wave goodbye at Winker.