Wednesday night at Citi Field, the Mets new kids on the block provided a much needed boost. Mark Vientos delivered a seventh inning, game-tying two-run home run in his season debut. They continued showcasing their building blocks with Francisco Alvarez and his three-run homer that tied the game a second time in the ninth inning.
The kids gave the Mets a lift but don’t forget about Pete Alonso, a young veteran who hit his fourth walk-off home run in the 10th inning. His three-run shot to left gave the Mets a much needed 8-7 win, their most exciting victory of the season over the Tampa Bay Rays.
A back-and-forth heavyweight fight that ended with a win against the best team in baseball. There were boos again from faithful fans at Citi Field that turned to cheers, and there was that need for a boost.
Vientos was called up and provided that boost. Alvarez is already here, along with Brett Baty, two more of their highly touted prospects. The call for Vientos came after an 8-5 loss Tuesday night, their 23-year old, seventh overall prospect, who was slugging the ball at Triple-A Syracuse.
The youngsters arrived. Someone needed to step into the picture and provide that big moment, but there were two this time with Vientos and Alvarez. Another prospect could be here real soon. You’ve heard the name, 22-year old Ronnie Mauricio the Mets top prospect. He is not far behind and is leading Triple-A in extra base hits.
The Mets were taking their time. Their prospects were not slated to be here, not with a $350 million payroll that has underachieved. But there was a sense that a change was coming for the lineup.
“We had a lot of young guys step up for us,” Alonso said. “I know they are young, but they made a big impact. It’s always exciting when you see a young guy come up wanting to succeed and make an impact.”
And they will have more moments like this. Assuming Vientos is here for the long haul, then a platoon with Baty at third is likely. Alonso knows the feeling of a big hit, once a rookie prospect who also struggled and now with a Major League leading 15th home run with the walk-off.
This afternoon the Mets will try to avoid a seventh straight series loss. With the Rays starting young right hander Taj Bradley, Manager Buck Showalter could insert Vientos again at the bottom of his lineup. Alvarez will likely catch the day game after a night game.
The rookies have arrived and will struggle, that is expected. But utilizing the prospects are the best option for a struggling team at this juncture of the season. A trade deadline for reinforcements is still many months away in late July.
Not to forget, Kodai Senga had his best start of the season with a career high twelve strikeouts, the most by a Japanese-born pitcher in Mets history. Vientos made an immediate impact with the game-tying home run that went deep to straightaway center in the seventh,
“Feels good the hard work I have been doing has been showing,” Vientos said. ”I tell myself continue to do what I’m doing, keep working and keep learning whatever I can do to help this team win is why I am here.”
Well, Vientos is here. So are Alvarez and Baty. Three home runs were the difference in this win. Alonso of course with the game ending one. The Vientos home run may have sparked Alvarez who has struggled at times.
“I feel like personally we give each other confidence,” said Vientos regarding Alvarez and Baty. ”We seen each other doing it, We grew up through the system with each other. We know each other like basically brothers. It gives us confidence that we go out there. We can do our thing just like we were doing in Triple-A,” he said. “We were hitting balls over the fence scoring runs. That’s what we did today.”
“Back then, it was if one guy doesn’t do it, the next guy can,” Álvarez said through a translator. “I said, if they can’t do it, I want the opportunity to be able to do it.”
A definite spark the Mets needed. You saw that excitement in the dugout after the rookies hit those home runs. A glimpse of their future and as they say hitting is contagious. The Mets as a team have not seen this from their lineup that was expected to score a lot of runs in bunches.
Three home runs that made a difference. Two rookies that can be a difference maker in the months ahead.
Rich Mancuso: Twitter @Ring786 Facebook,com/Rich Mancuso