After starting the season in Triple-A, DJ Stewart never thought he would hear Citi Field fans chanting his name. But a pair of homers, a difficult catch and a walk-off RBI had the Queens faithful doing exactly that in the Mets’ win over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night.
The Mets blew an early three-run lead and went down 5-3 before Stewart belted his second home run of the game to tie it up at 5-5 in the bottom of the eighth inning off right-hander Jose Leclerc. It was his second multi-homer game of the season and the third of his career. The Mets walked it off in the 10th on the least dramatic play involving the outfielder. Aroldis Chapman hit him with the bases loaded, salvaging a series with a 6-5 win.
It was Stewart’s first career walk-off RBI.
“It was a heck of a game and just an unbelievable feeling being able to do it all for the team,” Stewart said.
This came after a bullpen blowup in the top of the inning. The margin for error was thin, with the Mets trying to protect a 3-2 lead. They went to their high-leverage relievers, but the team couldn’t get it done.
Left-hander Brooks Raley loaded the bases with no outs and the Mets replaced him with right-hander Adam Ottavino. He hit Adolis Garcia with a pitch to bring in a run and tie the game.
A double play got Ottavino close, but he couldn’t get across the finish line. A two-run single by one-time Mets outfielder Travis Jankowski tied the game. All three runs were charged to Raley.
“It’s been a challenge,” manager Buck Showalter said of the bullpen. “But this is that time of the year. I like the fact that they didn’t let the innings get completely away from them. I know it didn’t look esthetically pleasing sometimes, but we kept staying engaged in the game and gave our guys a chance.”
But then came Stewart’s big blast and a big catch from the reserve outfielder in the ninth. With Jeff Brigham making his first appearance in the major leagues since July 2, Marcus Semien came within inches of a two-run blast. Stewart made a catch at the wall to bail out Brigham and keep the game tied. He covered 90 feet in 5.5 seconds to rob Semien of the go-ahead shot.
“He hit it well — I knew he hit it well,” Stewart said. “He hit one in the first game down the line to me that kind of took off. I knew it was going to be tough but I didn’t know I was going to get to the wall like that but I was fortunate to make the play for the team.”
Fans chanted his name to salute a solid night. Brigham (1-2) got out of the inning unscathed.
The righty flirted with fire once again in the 10th when he loaded the bases with one out, but Pete Alonso charged a slow roller down the first base line to turn a 3-2-4 double play.
Denyi Reyes, the right-hander called up from Triple-A Syracuse on Wednesday in order to give Kodai Senga two extra days of rest, went 5 1/3 innings. He allowed two earned runs before handing a lead over to the bullpen, walking none and striking out three.
“I was able to locate the pitches the way that we planned in that meeting with the catcher,” Reyes said through translator Alan Suriel. “I was able to do that today.”
The Mets (61-73) got to Texas (75-58) in the third, tagging right-hander Dane Dunning for three earned runs. Daniel Vogelbach led off with a home run and Stewart followed with his first of the night. It was the 13th of the season for Vogelbach and his sixth in the month of August. Stewart, who is auditioning for a bench role next season, be it with the Mets or with another team, has 10 since he was called up from Triple-A on July 4.
There isn’t much on the line for the Mets right now, but they relegated the Rangers to third place in the AL West with the win. If spoilsport is all they have, the Mets will embrace it.