Unlikely hero caps Mets' wild walk-off

May 8th, 2021

NEW YORK -- As Patrick Mazeika stepped into the on-deck circle to prepare for his second career plate appearance on Friday, he envisioned the type of game-winning heroics that so many players do. Mazeika was in this situation mostly because the Mets had run out of more experienced options. He wanted to make the most of such a rare opportunity.

The resulting three-foot swinging bunt may have been far from what Mazeika planned, but it nonetheless won the Mets a game. Grounding the ball weakly to a spot where pitcher Stefan Crichton had no play on it, Mazeika raced to first base as Pete Alonso touched home with the winning run in a walk-off, 5-4 victory over the D-backs at Citi Field.

“It wasn’t exactly how I drew it up in my head,” Mazeika said.

Mazeika’s dribbler was the culmination of a game that saw David Peterson force home three runs during a bout of second-inning wildness, Francisco Lindor silence boos with a game-tying, two-run homer in the seventh, and the Mets receive an exemplary performance from a sextet of relievers. Starting the bottom of the 10th with a runner on second base due to Major League Baseball’s extra-inning rules, the Mets quickly loaded the bases with one out on a pair of intentional walks.

That brought up Mazeika, the only remaining position player on manager Luis Rojas’ bench. Before the game, the Mets debated activating a fifth reserve bat, but decided it would be more important to carry 14 pitchers given the uncertainty at the back end of their rotation. That was a calculated risk; injuries to Brandon Nimmo, J.D. Davis and Luis Guillorme had weakened the Mets’ position-player depth, forcing them to call up Mazeika earlier in the week as one of the few available players on their 40-man roster.

It was a roundabout way for Mazeika to step to the plate in by far the most significant spot of his seven-year professional career. Mazeika did not earn his first big league callup until late last summer, and did not receive his first game action until a pinch-hit appearance on Wednesday.

His second came with the bases loaded in the 10th inning of a tie game.

“I was actually pretty calm because I had played that scenario through in my head from about the seventh inning on, knowing I’m the last guy on the bench,” Mazeika said. “Kind of just playing that through my head a couple times calmed me down.”

In that sense, Mazeika might have been close to the calmest person in the park. Despite the state-mandated limited capacity at Citi Field, an animated crowd hung on nearly every pitch. Mets players seemed plenty fiery as well, scrambling down the corridor to address some commotion between Lindor and Jeff McNeil midway through the seventh inning.

Through it all, the Mets found ways to claw back into a game that they trailed early, when Peterson hit a batter and walked two others with the bases loaded. Lindor struck the most significant blow, hitting a two-run homer to tie things in the bottom of the seventh. The teams then traded zeros until the Mets’ 10th-inning rally.

“My focus here, it’s the game and how everything was unfolding,” Rojas said. “It was a lot of moving parts. We used our last player to win the game.”