Since getting recalled from Triple-A Syracuse on July 21 and getting regular playing time, slowly but surely Mark Vientos was improving. At the very least, he was logging some much needed big-league experience that could only help him as the rookie hopes to be a part of the Mets’ long-term future.
Then, Vientos was placed on the 10-day IL in the middle of August with left wrist tendonitis. After missing less than two weeks, Vientos was right back in the lineup on Aug. 27 against the Los Angeles Angels but went 0-for-3.
Before Tuesday’s game against the Texas Rangers, the 23-year-old was 0-for-6 with three strikeouts since coming back from injury and 0-for-his-last-12 since before the injury.
But with the Mets down to their last strike and staring down the barrel of yet another shutout loss, facing Aroldis Chapman no less, Vientos unloaded on a 101 mph sinker and deposited it into the bullpen to give New York its first run of the night on his third home run of the season.
“Felt good just to put a good swing on a good pitch, off of Chapman too,” Vientos said after the game. “Especially (because) my parents are here so that’s another plus hitting that home run, but (it) felt good just to put a good swing on it, honestly.”
Vientos finished 2-for-4 on the night with his home run, his first since July 29, offering the only offensive bright spot of the game. He and Jeff McNeil were also the only Mets players to have multiple hits.
The home run may not have meant much for the overall outcome of the game, but it would’ve tied the game had New York’s bullpen not allowed the game-winning run in the top of the ninth inning.
Even still, any home run off of the fireballer Chapman, who is back to his dominant ways this season and who has only allowed three home runs in 50.1 innings between the Kansas City Royals and Rangers, is an impressive feat – especially for a rookie fighting to prove himself.
“Just trying to stay short. Stay short, but trust my hands at the same time. I was honestly trying to get a fastball and hit it to the big part of the field, to center and right-center and stuck with my plan and it worked,” Vientos said about his plan at the plate against the Rangers closer.
With the Mets no longer thinking about the playoffs this season, Vientos will have an opportunity to play almost every day and close out the season strong to show he belongs up with the big club.
Tuesday’s performance was a step in the right direction with that.
“I’m feeling a lot better, I feel like my at-bats are getting better,” he said. “Just keep working and staying focused on the process and what we’ve been doing in the cages and out on the field so just trying to stick to that right now.”
Vientos added: “Feels good that I’m getting the opportunity and experience up here. I feel like little by little I’m getting better and just taking it day by day and trying to learn as much as possible.”