NEW YORK — The Mets had the future in front of them, in full view: one at the plate, another in the holding circle, another waiting his turn near the exit of the dugout. Queens was trailing by three runs in the ninth against the best team in baseball, but at least they had some hope. At least they had boys.
First it was Brett Batty, long one of the top prospects in the organization and a spark for the club throughout the season. He struck out. Then it was Mark Vientos, the story of the day, a prospect who woke up in Syracuse, NY, on Wednesday and reached Queens in time to hit a two-run home run in the seventh. He ran away.
It brought home Francisco Álvarez, the organization’s top prospect at the start of the season, and who had struggled at the plate since being called up to the big club. But not this time. Alvarez hit a game-tying three-run homer off Jason Adams, giving the Mets an 8–7 win over the Rays in the 10th inning on Pete Alonso’s three-run homer.
Pitcher Kodai Senga said, “To go three home runs is something out of a movie.”
If a screenwriter had to write an ending like that, they might have eliminated the first of those home runs as cliché, too. On his first night in the majors, Vientos hit a game-tying homer to center in the seventh after basically forcing the organization to elevate him with his production. But the excitement of that drive was short-lived, as the Rays – known for their relentless power – again took a three-run lead in the ninth.
At that point, what was left of the crowd of 29,695 at Citi Field began booing the Mets once again, at least until Eden struck out the first two batters of the inning. Now it was time for the youngsters: Batty, Vientos and Alvarez, in that order.
At Syracuse, the three of them batted in a row, which led them to often declare that if one couldn’t do the job, the next in line would. So when Batty and Vientos failed to lift the Mets out of another loss, Alvarez steeled himself at the plate. He thought back to his first week in the majors a month ago, when Padres closer Josh Hader threw fastball after fastball over the top of the strike zone until he struck out. Alvarez promised himself that this time the result would be different.
Luckily for him, Aden gave him the opportunity Hyder never did, throwing a fastball over the heart of home plate. After sending the ball 426 feet to the second deck of the left field bleachers, Alvarez took a few steps toward first base, yelled, and then tossed the bat in the air.
“I said yes [Baty y Vientos] They couldn’t do it, I wished I had the opportunity to do it myself,” Alvarez said. “And I was able to do it.”
Finally, after scoring twice in the 10th to push New York back to the brink, it was Alonso’s turn. It didn’t disappoint.
When Alonso hit his fourth career home run, he tied five other players for the most in Mets history. Three of his four walk-offs have come in extra innings, also tying a franchise record.
“It was a very unfortunate time to be the worst Pete,” said Rays reliever Pete Fairbanks, who took the shot.
As Alonso rounded the bases, his teammates came out of the dugout feeling a bit cathartic. After experiencing so much last summer, throughout the season, the Mets have waited for a moment like this. They have been looking for that spark for years.
Finally on Wednesday the youth present in the club house provided it.
“It’s always exciting to see a young guy succeed and make an impact,” Alonso said. “Obviously, he had a big impact on us tonight.”