NEW YORK – Once again, Patrick Mazeika found himself thrust into the role as cult hero.
And this time, it was for much more than just an infield dribbler.
The Mets‘ third-string catcher clubbed a go-ahead home run to lift New York to a 5-4 win over the Mariners on a soggy Saturday night at Citi Field. Mazeika tucked a solo shot inside the right field pole to lead off the seventh inning.
It came in his first game of the season after getting called up from Triple-A Syracuse to replace James McCann (fractured hamate bone).
“That’s why you get up in the morning,” manager Buck Showalter said. “You never know what the game has in store for you.”
“That’s a great moment for him, let alone the team. He ambushed a guy throwing 100 miles per hour. We needed it.”
Mazeika showed a flair for the dramatic last year by walking off two games on fielder’s choice grounders.
Neither of those, however, left the infield. So naturally, there was some satisfaction for Mazeika in seeing the ball land 370 feet.
“I think if the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that you have to be ready for anything,” Mazeika said. “You just embrace it. I’ll always been ready to play.”
Mazeika’s home run came at a critical time in the seventh inning. The Mets gave up a three-run lead in the top of the frame with Jesse Winker embracing his status as Citi Field villain. Winker blasted a game-tying home run off Chasen Shreve, then riled up the crowd with a wave after touching home plate.
The tables were turned in the ninth inning when Edwin Diaz blew a 100 mph fastball by the Mariners outfielder to end the game. Some of the fans who stuck around punctuated the win with a mocking wave back.
“That’s the meat of their order,” Showalter said. “Nobody in our clubhouse takes it for granted the level that Edwin is pitching.”
That level includes 27 strikeouts in 15 innings this season for the Mets closer.
The Mariner 3-4-5 hitters all went down swinging against Diaz in his first appearance against his former club.
“That’s about as fun a guy to catch as there is,” Mazeika said. “When he comes in with the trumpets and the crowd is going nuts and you know he’s going to strike guys out, that’s honestly one of the most fun things in sports.”
Francisco Lindor drove in the first two runs of the game, cashing in on a single and sacrifice fly.
A sac fly from Jeff McNeil and a crisp RBI double from Pete Alonso gave the Mets a 4-0 cushion and energized the Queens crowd.
An hour-long rain delay and the continual mist didn’t seem to wash away the excitement for the 37,140 home fans.
“New York fans are a little different,” starter Chris Bassitt said. “They’re a little crazy. I don’t know many fanbases that will sit in the rain.”
These resilient Mets are now 11-1 after a loss and 23-12 overall.
Carlos Carrasco takes the ball on Sunday with a shot at a fourth straight series in.
Bassitt loaded the bases in the first but came away unscathed after picking off Eugenio Suarez at second.
Per the Citi Field scoreboard, it was the first time a runner was picked off with the bases loaded this season.
Give an assist to the Mets replay room, who flipped the call for the eighth time in 11 challenges this year.
“He was walking away from the bag,” Bassitt said. “Not really paying attention. Basically a little bit of chemistry with the middle infielder. Jeff (McNeil) gave me the look and I was like, let’s go.”
It happened to be the first of many gaffes for the Mariners who had another runner picked off and committed three errors in the field – not including a dropped pop fly.
Bassitt scattered five hits and one run over 5.2 innings. He fanned eight Mariners before getting chased on an RBI single Steven Souza Jr.
By that point, the Mets’ right-hander lowered his season ERA to 2.34. He’s been everything the Mets could have hoped for since Billy Eppler’s shrewd, preseason deal that pried him away from Oakland.
Bassitt out-dueled George Kirby, who made his second career start about 20 miles from home. The Rye, N.Y. native had about 300 fans in his cheering section, including his parents and high school coach. Kirby allowed three runs (one earned) in four innings in front of a lackluster Seattle defense.
The Mariners’ right-hander was actually drafted out of high school by the Mets but went to Elon University and declared three years later. Showalter praised Kirby for coming in “as advertised” with a good arm and a bright future.
“I can see why they think so much of him in Seattle and why it was probably a big moment in Rye,” Showalter said. “I lived in Rye for one year.”
Sean Farrell is a high school sports reporter for NorthJersey.com. For full access to live scores, breaking news and analysis from our Varsity Aces team, subscribe today. To get breaking news directly to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter and download our app.