|Pete Alonso returning to the dugout after his home run. Photo by Jason Schott.
Pete Alonso's rookie season has been a historic one, and he etched his place in the Mets history books on Saturday night.
With the Mets trailing 4-2 in the fifth inning against the Atlanta Braves, he launched a rocket to deep center field, a 451-foot shot that landed just to the right of the home run apple for a three-run homer.
This was Alonso's 41st of the season, tying Todd Hundley in 1996, and Carlos Beltran, who matched it ten years later. Hundley's home run, which also set the record for catchers, also came on a Saturday against Atlanta, September 14, 1996.
Alonso already set the National League rookie home run mark when he hit No. 40 in Kansas City last Sunday, and he is now just 11 away from matching the Major League record set Aaron Judge of the Yankees two years ago.
The Mets first baseman is now the first rookie to tie or set his club's single-season home run record since Ralph Kiner tied the Pirates' franchise record with 23 homers in 1946, according to Elias. Kiner, of course, went on to be a longtime broadcaster for the Mets.
The three-run homer also gave Alonso 100 RBI on the season, which leads all rookies. The last Met to have a 100-RBI season was David Wright in 2010, when he had 103.
It took Alonso 129 games to drive in 100 runs, and only three players have done it in fewer team games: Beltran in 2006, Robin Ventura in 1999, and Mike Piazza in 2000 all did it in game No. 122.
The only downside to when Alonso hit it is that we have to see these hideous Players' Weekend uniforms every time the clip is shown in the future.
The Braves jumped out to a 4-0 lead against Mets starter Zack Wheeler, as Francisco Cervelli (in his Braves debut) got a two-run double in the second, and then Ozzie Albies and Josh Donaldson each hit solo home runs in the third.
Albies' homer hugged the foul pole in right field to give him his 19th of the season, and Donaldon launched a bomb to left field to give him 30 dingers.
The Mets' comeback against Atlanta starter Max Fried began in the bottom of the third when Juan Lagares led off with a double, moved to third on Amed Rosario single, and came home on a fielder's choice from Joe Panik.
In the fifth, Lagares got a one-out double and scored on a Rosario single to make it 4-2. Panik followed with a single before Alionso's three-run shot made it 5-4 Mets.
Atlanta tied it in the sixth when Cervelli reached on an error by Mets third baseman Todd Frazier, and he scored on a single from Rafael Ortega.
That was all for Wheeler, whose final line read as follows: 6 innings, 5 hits, 5 runs, 4 earned runs, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts.
Though it started out rough, it was a definite improvement over his last time against the Braves, in Atlanta, on August 13, when he allowed five earned runs on 12 hits and two walks, with two strikeouts in five innings.
After Luis Avilan pitched a perfect top of the seventh, a familiar face came up to pinch-hit for him.
Jeff McNeil, who was activated from the injured list after he suffered a left hamstring injury against Atlanta on August 13 (yes, that was a tough night), came up and launched a double up the gap in right-center field.
Rosario was up next and he bounced one to shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, who fired to third to nab McNeil. The Mets challenged the ruling, but it was upheld.
Mets Manager Mickey Callaway said of McNeil's choice to run with the ball in front of him between second and third, "It was probably a pretty good aggressive play, and then an oustanding job by the shortstop. You know, when you're looking for a ball to be hit to the right side in that situation, but there are a few that are hit in front of you that you can get on, you know, the chopper to the third baseman, where he has to come in; he knows where the shortstop is.
"A chopper that's kind of right to your right, you go on because most guys just come in and throw that underhand to first, and Hech just came up and kind of gave the no-look to third. It was just really a great play. You teach the guys to probably run on that ball, and it was just a really great play by the shortstop."
While Panik was up, Rosario attempted to steal second and he was thrown out. Panik then grounded to short to end the inning.
In the top of the eighth, Brad Brach was on for the Meta and, after he got the first two outs quickly, Ortega lined one to McNeil, who took over at second base, and it went off his glove for a single.
Billy Hamilton was up next to pinch-hit for pitcher Josh Tomlin, and he also singled.
Ronald Acuna Jr. dunked a single into left that scored Ortega, and then because J.D. Davis took forever to get it back in, Hamilton (no surprise) raced around third to score and make it 7-5 Atlanta.
Acuna was awarded one RBI and Hamilton's run was attributed to a fielder's choice.
Callaway said of Davis' taking too long to get the ball back in there, "Yeah, you just get up and hit the cutoff man and it keeps everybody where they should be. We didn't have anybody at first, so Acuna could play that little game of getting off and you're paying attention to him. We've seen Billy Hamilton do that a ton, you know, he's gonna run when you hesitate. Just get up and hit the cutoff man, that'll be it for that."
With Edwin Diaz on for the Mets in the ninth, the Braves added to their lead.
Freddie Freeman launched a bomb to the seats in left center field for a solo shot, his 35th of the year, to make it 8-5.
Diaz then struck out Donaldson before walking pinch-hitter Charlie Culberson, and then he left with an injury after a visit to the mound by the trainer.
Chris Flexen came on next, and he got Hevhavarria to fly to center for the second out before Cervelli launched a rocket off the fence in center to score Culberson and make it 9-5.
Cervelli was 3-for-3 with two doubles, three RBI, and a run scored, quite a debut for him with Atlanta after Pittsburgh released him a couple days ago.
Shane Greene came on and pitched a scoreless ninth to finish off the 9-5 win for Atlanta. The Braves will go for the sweep on Sunday afternoon.