Pete Alonso #20 of the Mets celebrates his seventh inning...

Pete Alonso #20 of the Mets celebrates his seventh inning run on a balk against the Pittsburgh Pirates with teammate Jeff McNeil #1 at Citi Field on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. Credit: Jim McIsaac

For the second straight night, the Mets came back in the late innings to beat the Pirates. But Tuesday night’s 3-1 comeback victory before 18,398 at Citi Field had a slightly different flair.

The Mets scored the go-ahead run in the seventh inning on a balk by Pirates pitcher Jose Hernandez, who had just entered the game to face Jeff McNeil and hadn’t thrown a pitch.

“I love late-inning comebacks and exciting baseball,” Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns said before the game. He didn’t mention balks, but the Mets gladly will take it.

Hernandez’s balk, which appeared to be a twitch by the lefthander while on the rubber, was called by third base umpire Edwin Moscoso. It brought home Pete Alonso with the go-ahead run.

Mets manager Carlos Mendoza said he saw the balk as it happened. He started out of the dugout quickly to make sure the umpires saw it, too.

“I saw the balk, obviously,” Mendoza said. “That’s when I jumped, right away. He started and then he stopped.”

The Mets were trailing 1-0 and had just one hit in the seventh when Francisco Lindor drew a one-out walk and Alonso singled him to third.


That brought up Joey Wendle, who in the top of the inning had replaced Brett Baty (left hamstring tightness) at third base. Wendle launched a game-tying double to left for his first RBI as a Met.

“That’s what you prepare for, coming off the bench,” Wendle said. “When you’re not playing, you tell yourself you’re going to get in the game, you’re going to have an impact, you’re going to get an at-bat that is going to matter at some point. Thankfully, got the opportunity — obviously, not at the expense of Baty’s hamstring — but thankful that I was able to contribute.”

Baty said he doesn’t think the tightness — which popped up when he was trying to beat out a grounder in the fifth — is a big deal.

“Not concerned,” he said.

Two batters after Wendle’s double, the balk broke the 1-1 tie. McNeil followed with an RBI double to make it 3-1.

Winning pitcher Reed Garrett (2-0) struck out six in his two innings of relief. In four outings, the 31-year-old has struck out 17 in 8  2⁄3 innings.

The Mets picked up Garrett off waivers from Baltimore last June and he appeared in nine games. Coming into 2024, he had a career 7.06 ERA over parts of three big-league seasons. But the Mets think they’ve unearthed something special.

Asked how much he knew of Garrett before the season, Mendoza said: “Honestly, I didn’t know much about him. I’m not going to lie.”

With Edwin Diaz having pitched the previous two days, Drew Smith struck out two in the ninth for his first save of the season and fourth of his career. The Mets struck out 13 batters.

On Monday, the Mets (9-8) came back from a 3-0, sixth-inning deficit to take a 6-3 decision. Since starting 0-5 under Mendoza, the Mets are 9-3, including the last three in a row.

The Mets were held to one hit over the first five innings by Pirates righthander Jared Jones.

In his fourth big-league start, Jones struck out seven, but he was removed after throwing 59 pitches, 50 for strikes. Pirates manager Derek Shelton told Pittsburgh reporters that Jones wasn’t injured and the plan was always for him to go five innings.

For the Mets, Opening Day starter Jose Quintana allowed just one run in five innings, and that came on a two-out check-swing RBI single by Brian Reynolds past a diving Alonso in the fifth.


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