After a very manic Monday at Citi Field started with Mickey Callaway not getting fired and ended with a much-needed Mets victory, Tuesday in Flushing began with a disheveled-looking Pete Alonso practically leaping out of a car service near the entrance to the players’ parking lot.
Seems Alonso’s driver got stuck in traffic, had a little trouble finding the ballpark, and then started going in reverse after locating the proper entrance.
“I got New Yorked,” Alonso said.
It was Alonso who after Monday night’s victory expressed unconditional support for Callaway and said the Mets needed to “snowball it tomorrow.”
It was Alonso who — after the Mets let an eighth-inning lead get away against the Nationals on Tuesday — hit a towering home run to left to tie a seesaw game at 5 in the bottom of the eighth.
It was Alonso who — after Amed Rosario beat out a grounder to short for a walk-off single and a 6-5 victory — grabbed a Gatorade jug from the dugout, raced out to second base and doused Rosario.
“It’s a walk-off,” Alonso said. “Why not? It’s just a fun moment and you’ve got to throw the Gatorade at someone to celebrate the walk-off. There’s just no other way.”
Talk is cheap, and Alonso is one Met who backed up his support for Callaway with actions. Long, high actions over the leftfield foul pole. Alonso did a little Carlton Fisk dance to will the ball to be fair. After the umpires looked at it on video replay, they confirmed the home run.
Alonso set a Mets rookie record for home runs before the All-Star break with his 16th. The All-Star break begins on July 8.
Callaway needs the support of Alonso and his teammates on the field as much as he needs it in the locker room.
Things looked fine for Callaway after a couple of bold moves in the seventh led to a go-ahead three-run home run from pinch hitter J.D. Davis.
With a man on first and one out, Callaway sent Dominic Smith to bat for Juan Lagares even though the Mets were short of outfielders once Brandon Nimmo was scratched from the starting lineup with a stiff neck. Smith walked.
Then, Callaway sent up Davis, who gave the Mets their first lead of the night at 4-3 with a three-run shot that just disappeared over the wall in right.
The problem for Callaway was what came next. Davis went out to play leftfield, with Carlos Gomez shifting from right to center. Jeff McNeil moved from left to right.
Davis, a converted infielder with eight career games in the outfield. McNeil, a converted infielder in his first career inning in rightfield.
Of course, the ball found each of them immediately. Pinch hitter Howie Kendrick led off the eighth against Jeurys Familia with a dunker to right. McNeil gave it his best effort, but his dive came up short and the ball fell in for a single.
Trea Turner followed with a double into the leftfield corner that ricocheted past the inexperienced Davis as Kendrick scored the tying run from first.
Callaway was darned if he did and darned if he didn’t. He had to go for it in the seventh and he had to hope his makeshift outfield wouldn’t cost him. It did.
Three batters later, Juan Soto gave the Nationals a 5-4 lead with a double off lefthander Daniel Zamora, the Stony Brook product. Zamora and Tyler Bashlor held it there and Alonso went all Carlton Fisk on Nationals righthander Tanner Rainey in the eighth.
“I knew it was fair,” Alonso said. “I talked to it. I was like, ‘Stay fair, please.' It listened.”
Just as he eventually found his way to Citi Field, Alonso rounded the bases and found his way home in the eighth inning. The Nationals got New Yorked.