Mark Vientos dug himself a hole.
He was down 0-2 in an at-bat that resembled many of his at-bats early in his major league career.
But what followed deviated from the script.
The Mets rookie fought back.
As Vientos learns through a lost Mets season, perhaps he can become a find.
The rookie put together quality at-bat after quality at-bat that helped the Mets defeat the sloppy Reds, 8-4, in front of 38,044 at Citi Field on Sunday afternoon.
Vientos hit three balls hard, but it was the approach more than the result that impressed the most.
With two runners on base in the fifth inning of a game where the Mets led by one, Vientos squared off against Carson Spiers, a right-hander (notable for Vientos’ right-handed hitter).
A couple of sinkers provided the first two strikes of what would have been his 58th strikeout in his 186th plate appearance, more than a third of the time.
Instead, Vientos fired an inside fastball.
He saw Spiers miss with a slider inside and then a sinker outside.
With the count complete, Vientos shortened and hit a cutter up the middle for an RBI single, giving the Mets a valuable insurance run and giving the Mets more reason to give him more at-bats.
Vientos has clearly mastered Triple-A pitching, posting a .999 OPS with 16 home runs in 61 games with Syracuse this year.
He’s starting to show that his bat could also adapt to big league pitching.
After his 3-for-4 afternoon, Vientos is hitting even .300 (15-for-50) with three homers and six RBIs over his last 14 games.
None of his shots Sunday were soft, turning exit velocities of 104.1 mph, 105.2 mph and 100.4 mph into three singles.
Vientos entered the game with an average exit velocity of 93.3 mph, which was 11th best among hitters with at least 100 plate appearances. This is only increasing.
Vientos’ questionable glove makes his bat paramount in earning playing time. Among his competition at third base, Brett Baty could return from a hamstring injury on Monday and Ronny Mauricio added a pair of singles on Sunday.
His competition in DH also impressed.
Daniel Vogelbach, who quietly had a huge second half after a small first half, had a hit in the seventh inning and cleared the bases that had been loaded with a double off the center field wall to open the game .
A few potential Mets designated hitters for next season — along with three errors by the Reds’ defense — helped turn Jose Quintana into a winner, who has allowed two runs in 6 ⅔ solid innings and holds a 3 ERA, 02 after 11 starts.
New York Post