NEW YORK — The Mets needed some kind of spark, anything after falling to a season-worst three games below .500 on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, it came in the form of a Pete Alonso walk-off homer, electrifying the Mets for the team’s best moment of the season.
Alonso hit his fourth career walk-off homer in a 10-inning, 8-7 victory over the juggernaut Tampa Bay Rays, a back-and-forth contest that saw the Mets’ bullpen allow six runs in four innings.
“We had plenty of comeback wins last year, but we’re a different team,” Alonso said. “We need to establish that identity, and it was exciting to get that win.”
The Mets struggled to get their bats going against Tampa Bay starter Josh Fleming, who threw five scoreless innings, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out five. Their first runs didn’t come until the seventh inning when third baseman Mark Vientos — playing his first major league game of the season after being called up earlier Wednesday — hit a homer off Rays reliever Ryan Thompson that barely scooted over the center-field fence to make the score 2-2.
Vientos did not expect the ball to leave the yard.
“I was saying, ‘Go ball, go, go, go,'” Vientos said. “Maybe it listened to me.”
The Rays immediately fired back, with second baseman Brandon Lowe hitting a two-run shot off Mets reliever Adam Ottavino in the eighth to make the score 4-2. In the ninth, Tampa Bay extended the lead to 5-2 on a Randy Arozarena ground ball single that scored Josh Lowe.
But New York’s evening was not over. The Mets stormed back with a three-run homer from catcher Francisco Alvarez that tied the game at 5-5 and sent it to extra innings.
Tampa Bay immediately broke the tie in the 10th inning when Rays pinch hitter Harold Ramirez knocked an RBI single to center field, scoring Taylor Walls. The Rays soon added an insurance run on a Josh Lowe RBI single that extended the lead to 7-5.
The Mets flashed back to their 2022 propensity to come back from deficits in the bottom half of the inning when Jeff McNeil started with a single that moved ghost runner Brandon Nimmo to third and put two runners on base for Alonso. The slugger then drove a pitch from Rays closer Pete Fairbanks into the left-center field seats for his 15th homer this year and the Mets’ most dramatic win of the season.
“For the players, I know how painful this stretch has been for them,” manager Buck Showalter said. “To have a moment like that, they deserve it.”
After the game, Showalter mentioned that Alonso felt “sick like a dog,” adding that most players would not have played with the illness. Alonso did not question whether he was going to play.
“As long as I’m physically able to play, my job description is a baseball player,” Alonso said. “I want to be here for my team.”
The Mets rode a strong performance from starter Kodai Senga, who went six innings while striking out 12 and allowing three hits, three walks and one run. While he was occasionally wild while trying to find the strike zone, the performance proved to be enough to keep New York in the game.
The Mets will have an opportunity to clinch their first series win since April in Thursday’s series finale against the Rays.
Pete Alonso walk-off homer in 10th gives Mets comeback win