‘Those guys were huge for us today’

New York Mets catcher Francisco Alvarez (4) reacts after hitting a three run home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the ninth inning at Citi Field.

“Let the kids play.”

That’s been the mantra of many Mets fans in recent weeks as their team has struggled offensively. Entering Wednesday’s game, the Mets have scored 4.16 runs per game, which is ranked 23rd in the league. They also hit just 44 home runs this season, which is ranked 21st in the league.

The need for offense, or at least a shakeup of the roster, was so strong that the organization has called up three prospects to fill holes. And on Wednesday, two of them came through when the team needed them.

Mark Vientos was called up Wednesday after hitting 13 home runs in 38 games with a slash line of.333/.416/.688. He was immediately thrown into the fire, starting at third base against the base team in baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays. But the 23-year-old answered the call with a game-tying two-run shot in the seventh inning, a hit that jolted the Mets bench.

“It feels good to get the first one out of the way,” Vientos said of his home run after the game. “The first hit, the first home run. Now just go out there and play and have fun.”

The Rays would retake the lead in later innings, but with the Mets down three in the ninth inning, Francisco Alvarez came to the plate. With two on and two out, Alvarez hit the biggest home run of his young career, a 426-foot shot that caused the remnants of the Citi Field crowd to erupt.

“I was really excited because I was able to help the team in that situation,” Alvarez said. “That’s why I looked over to our dugout because I knew we had an opportunity to win there.”

Alvarez has been up in the big leagues for some time now, and after a slow start he’s begun to find it at the plate, hitting three home runs and driving in seven RBI this month. But for the 21-year-old, Wednesday’s home run was a reminder of the hard work he’s been putting in.

“It made me remember a lot of those moments when I didn’t have success like the at-bat against (Josh) Hader which was a terrible at-bat,” Alvarez said, referencing his strikeout with the bases loaded in early April against the Padres. “It just kind of made me remember all of those moments that I’ve had in previous at-bats.”

Vientos also reflected on his first game back in the majors — after hitting .167 with one home run in 16 games last season — and how far he’s come.

“Feels good for sure that all the hard work that I’ve been putting in is showing and just tells myself that I need to continue to do what I’m doing and keep working and keep learning,” he said. “Whatever I can do to help this team win is why I’m here.”

Their home runs gave the Mets a boost when they needed it most, especially by just keeping the score tied so they could go to extra innings where Pete Alonso hit his walk-off homer to give the Mets the win.

But as the slugger says, his at-bat doesn’t happen without the kids making an impact at the plate.

“Our young guys are pros. They put together great at-bats consistently,” Alonso said. “I’m really thankful for them coming up clutch because I wouldn’t have that opportunity to help the team in extras there. Those guys were huge for us today.”

“They all bring that skill in the levels behind them,” manager Buck Showalter said of the rookies’ home run ability. “We’ll see if it carries over here. I don’t have a reason to say that they can’t or won’t.”

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