The Mets' Francisco Alvarez follows through with his swing after connecting...

The Mets' Francisco Alvarez follows through with his swing after connecting for a three-run home run off Rockies starting pitcher Austin Gomber in the fourth inning of a game Sunday in Denver. Credit: AP/David Zalubowski

DENVER — For at least a day, Francisco Alvarez graduated from last in the batting order, getting bumped all the way up to No. 2 on Sunday.

In the Mets’ 11-10 loss to the Rockies, Alvarez did more of what he has done lately: hit baseballs hard.

Alvarez’s three-run homer highlighted the Mets’ six-run rally in the fourth. In his other at-bats, he struck out, hit a 105-mph double-play grounder, struck out again and hit a 110-mph double-play grounder.

Buck Showalter, who has been steadfast in keeping the rookie catcher ninth, wouldn’t commit to the promotion of sorts being more than a one-day thing. “I don’t want to be too descriptive, but he’s been a force,” the manager said.

Alvarez’s .885 OPS is second on the team, trailing only Pete Alonso (.910). His eight homers are third, behind Alonso (20) and Francisco Lindor (who hit his ninth Sunday).

Alvarez already has matched the home run total from the Mets’ catchers last year.

“He keeps doing things like that, he’s going to really help our offense out,” Brandon Nimmo said. “You’ve already seen it. We’ve produced more runs when he’s in the lineup, doing what he does.”

Careful with McNeil

Jeff McNeil said he plans to return to the lineup Tuesday. He was absent — until a pinch-hit single in the ninth — on Sunday because of tightness in his right groin. That popped up in his last at-bat Friday and he played with “no problem,” he said, on Saturday. “It’s nothing to worry about,” McNeil said.

Showalter said: “He’s had it before. He plays through a lot of stuff like that. I thought with the benefit of two days [including the team’s off day Monday], we might be able to make it not be an issue.”

A cameo in center

Starling Marte, who has said he prefers to remain in rightfield, started in center for the first time in two seasons with the Mets. Nimmo was the DH.

Showalter said he picked Marte over Tommy Pham and Mark Canha because Marte has the best throwing arm of the trio, a factor he weighed heavily at hitter-friendly Coors Field.

“We didn’t really have a conversation. He just asked me if I was willing to play centerfield and I told him yeah,” Marte said through an interpreter. “We do have a lot of guys that can play in centerfield, but the manager decided today would be my day, so that’s what it is.”

Showalter said: “We talked to him before the season started that he was going to have to play out there a little bit. Don’t plan on doing it a whole lot, but he’s our best option out there.”

Extra bases

Pham became the first Met ever to record a double, triple, four RBIs and two stolen bases in the same game .  .  . Elieser Hernandez, who strained his right shoulder late in spring training, made his first rehab appearance with Low-A St. Lucie, striking out all three batters he faced in a scoreless inning . . . Alonso went 2-for-5 with a double and his first triple since September 2021. Exactly one-third of the way through the season, he is on pace for 60 homers..

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