The kids are all right. And the Mets might just end up being all right, too.
The Mets called up top slugging prospect Mark Vientos on Wednesday and he hit a dramatic game-tying two-run home run against the Rays in the seventh inning.
Then, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and the Mets trailing by three, rookie Francisco Alvarez hit an even more dramatic game-tying three-run home run.
Finally, trailing by two in the bottom of the 10th, Pete Alonso gave the Mets an 8-7 victory with the most dramatic blast of the crazy three-comeback night, a majestic three-run game-winning home run to leftfield.
The Mets (21-23) have to hope their first walkoff win of 2023 will be a turning point in a season that has not gone as planned. And the first sign was the home run by Vientos (1-for-4), who was finally called up from Triple-A Syracuse before the game.
With the Rays leading 7-5 after scoring two against David Roberston in the 10th, Jeff McNeil led off the bottom of the inning against Pete Fairbanks with a single to move ghost runner Brandon Nimmo to third.
Francisco Lindor struck out. But Alonso crushed an 0-and-1 fastball 416 feet for his MLB-best 15th home run to send what was left of the crowd of 29,695 home deliriously happy.
Alonso, who manager Buck Showalter said was “sick as a dog,” said “it [stinks] to be sick, but it’s always nice to hit a home run. This is an unbelievable win, an unbelievable team win."
The Mets were trailing 2-0 in the seventh when Vientos crushed a game-tying two-run home to left-center. The blast went 103.6 miles per hour off the bat and traveled 414 feet.
"Feels good," Vientos said postgame. "Feels good, for sure."
However, the good feelings after his homer lasted about 10 minutes. Brandon Lowe’s two-run homer in the top of the eighth off Adam Ottavino gave the Rays a 4-2 lead. Tampa Bay scored again in the ninth to make it 5-2.
But, in the bottom of the ninth, Daniel Vogelbach walked and Starling Marte was hit by a pitch by Tampa Bay closer Jason Adam.
Pinch hitter Brett Baty struck out and Vientos hit a shallow fly to center before Alvarez dented the facing of the second deck in left with a tying three-run homer. Alvarez’s fourth home run was 104.6 mph and went 426 feet.
“Huge kudos," Alonso said of Vientos and Alvarez. "I mean, those guys were huge for us."
Mets starter Kodai Senga was brilliant, striking out 12 in six innings and allowing one run. Senga’s previous career high in strikeouts in his seven MLB starts was eight. Mets pitchers struck out 17 overall.
Senga gave up three hits, but two of them were one-out back-to-back doubles by Lowe and Isaac Paredes in the fourth to give Tampa a 1-0 lead. Paredes hit a three-run and two-run homer off Justin Verlander in the Rays’ 8-5 victory on Tuesday.
Jose Siri made it 2-0 with a home run off Jeff Brigham in the seventh.
Vientos, 23, was batting .333 with 13 home runs and a 1.104 OPS for Triple-A Syracuse. He was getting ready for bed in his hotel room in Norfolk, Virginia, on Tuesday night when he got a call that he was getting the call. To the majors.
His prodigious production in Triple-A had made him the subject of much clamoring for a call-up from Mets fans, was immediately inserted into the lineup as the third baseman and No. 8 hitter.
Vientos took Baty’s third base spot in a new-look lineup that featured Eduardo Escobar as the second hitter and second baseman and Baty and NL batting champion Jeff McNeil on the bench (until McNeil hit for Escobar in the sixth).
The promotion of Vientos without a clear defensive position or spot for him in the lineup is an issue for manager Buck Showalter to solve.
“We'll see how it evolves,” Showalter said. “He's capable of playing first and third and DH. I don’t mean to be short, but if he plays well, hits well, we’ll see how that role evolves.”
Vientos didn’t get a ball hit his way at third until the eighth inning. He made a wide throw to second base on a potential double-play ball, but McNeil was able to catch it to record a forceout.
In 16 games last season for the Mets, Vientos hit .167 (6-for-36) with a home run and three RBIs.