A day after hitting the Mets’ longest home run of the season and setting the team’s rookie catcher home run record in the process, Francisco Alvarez may have one upped himself Wednesday.
With two outs in the ninth inning and the Mets down 1-0, Alvarez came up to bat against the tough lefty, Andrew Chaffin. After working a full count, Alvarez would take a 93 mph sinker on the outside part of the plate over the right-field wall to tie the game.
Alvarez leapt high in the air as he approached first base and continued to be as animated as he’s been since being called up to the majors earlier this year.
“It was super exciting. It was super cool,” Alvarez said through the team interpreter after the game. “You guys saw me running around the bases, and I did everything to celebrate that moment.”
The rookie catcher bailed out a Mets offense that was kept in check for 8.2 innings, all the while Kodai Senga had his best start of his major league career. The Japanese native pitched a career-high eight innings, while giving up just one run on four hits and one walk. He also struck out 12 batters, tying his career high.
Before Alvarez’s home run, Senga would have been the tough-luck loser on his first complete game in the majors. But the 21-year-old changed that narrative with his one swing.
“I felt good because Senga threw a tremendous game. Our defense played a tremendous game. It felt like we deserved to win,” he said. “It was really for them, Senga, the defence. It was such a big moment.”
According to MLB’s Sarah Langs, Wednesday’s home run was Alvarez’s fifth game-tying or go-ahead long ball in the sixth inning or later this season. That’s the most in the major leagues.
The young catcher explained his thoughts during those moments since he’s had quite a few of them already this year.
“In that moment, the way I think about is ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ The worst that can happen is we lose the game,” Alvarez said. “I try to compete, try to battle and really try to give the best of myself. It’s really the adrenaline that heightens that moment for me.”
“It’s my favorite part of the game,” he added. “I’m not afraid of failure. When those moments come up, I’m comfortable.”
“He doesn’t shy away from the moment. He likes being out there,” Mets manager Buck Showalter she said. “He likes being in the moment. What impressed me was he got a pitch that was probably a ball and that shows the maturity of a player that he didn’t let it snowball.”
The pitch Showalter referenced was when Alvarez was ahead in the count, 2-1, Chafin threw a slider that looked to be below the zone but the home plate umpire called it a strike. Alvarez, clearly upset, turned quickly and asked for time.
After composing himself, Alvarez would fight back to eventually hit the game-tying home run.
“It felt good because earlier in that count the umpire called a strike that I didn’t necessarily agree with,” Alvarez said. “We haven’t been getting that call the entire game. I had to keep battling, I had to keep competing. Just with that home run it was kind of saying, ‘that last one wasn’t a strike but I got that one.'”
“The Alvy home run is a big sigh of relief. That was just an amazing at-bat,” Mark Canha she said. “Extremely impressive from a rookie. He never ceases to amaze me on how he’s developing this year. It’s pretty impressive.”
Alvarez’s long ball only tied the game, the winning hit came off the bat of Canha. After Brett Baty followed the home run with a single, Canha launched a triple that would put the Mets up for good.
Even as a spectator, Alvarez can’t help but be excited about his team and his teammates.
“I was super excited. I let out a big yell,” Alvarez said with a smile. “I came out of the dugout and I hit Baty super hard. He might have a bruise right now.”
Baty and the Mets will take the bruise after Wednesday’s win, which propelled New York to their second consecutive series win, and their fourth win in a row. But there’s still more work to do as the 40-46 Mets try to get back closer to a Wild Card spot when they go for the three-game sweep on Thursday.