Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Alonso Hits #35, Ready To Move Up Mets All-Time Lists


Pete Alonso steps into the box against Chicago's Kyle Hendricks on Wednesday night. Photo by Jason Schott.

Pete Alonso blasted another home run on Wednesday night, his 35th of the season, and helped lead the Mets to a 4-3 victory, as they took two of three from the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field.

That home run was a no-doubter that went off the facade of the second deck in left field, and tied the game at two in the fourth inning.

Alonso became just the sixth player in Mets history to hit four home runs in a three-game series.

Pete Alonso touching third base and greeting 3B coach Joey Cora on his trot around the bases. on the home run. Photo by Jason Schott.

Alonso now the first Met to have 35+ home runs in four seasons, eclipsing Mike Piazza, Dave Kingman, Darryl Strawberry, and Howard Johnson. Alonso had 53 homers in his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2019, and then after 16 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, he hit 37 in 2021 and 40 last year, meaning there’s been just one season he has not hit this remarkable plateau, and that was circumstances not of his own making.

This season, Alonso's 35 home runs rank second in the National League, to his fellow first baseman, Matt Olson of the Atlanta Braves, who has 39. (Atlanta comes to Citi Field Friday for a four-game series). Alonso is third overall in Major League Baseball, with the Angels' Shohei Ohtani reigning supreme with 40.

Alonso also now has 87 RBI, so that means he needs just five more home runs and 13 RBI to have a 40 home run/100 RBI campaign.

Those 87 RBI rank second in the National League to Olson's 100, and third in MLB, with the Texas Rangers' Adolis Garcia's 89 in between them.

In addition, Alonso keeps climbing the Mets' all-time ranks, as he now has 181 home runs, which is fifth-best in club history. He is just 11 behind Howard Johnson (192) for fourth on the team's career home list, and the top three are: Darryl Strawberrry with 252, David Wright (242), and Mike Piazza (220).

Alonso now has 467 career RBI, which is 11th all-time in Mets history, just one behind another franchise great at first base, Keith Hernandez, who had 468 RBI in his time in New York from 1983 to 1989. Next up on the list, and likely just out of reach this year, are Cleon Jones and Jose Reyes, tied for eighth with 521 RBI, then Edgardo Alfonso (538).

Mets Manager Buck Showalter, in his pregame press conference on Wednesday, said of Alonso's place in Mets history, "You know, I think I saw it last night on the board, I think I saw that one of them's pretty reachable pretty soon, but that gets your attention. You know, there's been some great hitters here with power, and Pete's doing it in a ballpark that you've got to earn every one of them.

"I'm a fan, you know, every once in a while, I step back and take stuff like that in and realize what an honor it is to watch guys do things like that, that what percent of our population in this world can do. It's a very minute percentage, it's like I keep telling these travel squad teams, what percentage of them play in the big leagues, just let your son or daughter have fun instead of chasing things sometimes.

"He's going to have quite a legacy when it's all said and done - already does, very unassuming, though, very consistent personality. I don't think people realize how the struggles of our team, and  Pete, when he was struggling at the same time, really, really hurt him. He came to the office a few times, it was really eating at him. He loves when the Mets do well, and he likes being a part of it."

METS 4, CUBS 3: David Peterson got the start for the Mets in this one and he was greeted, literally, by a blast from Christopher Morel on the first pitch of the game for a home run off the facade of the second deck in left field.

The lefty Peterson then struck out the next four Cubs before Seiya Suzuki laced a hot shot to right field that got by Jeff McNeil to the fence for a triple. Suzuki would then come in to score on a passed ball to make it 2-0 Chicago.

The Cubs then had a big chance in the third, when Morel and Nico Hoerner each drew one out walks before Ian Happ bounced to shortstop for a tailor-made 6-4-3 double play to end the frame.

Chicago came right back in the fourth, as Suzuki and Jeimer Candelario each got two-out singles that chased Peterson from the game. The Mets turned to big right-hander Grant Hartwig, and he struck out Patrick Wisdom looking to end the frame and give the Mets a big lift.

By that point, Chicago starter Kyle Hendricks, the last member of their 2016 championship team still on the roster, had only allowed an Alonso walk in the second and a Rafael Ortega single in the third.

Francisco Lindor led off the fourth with a single before Alonso's blast to deep left field to tie it at 2.

Hendricks then retired the next three Mets to end the fourth and the first two in the fifth.

Brandon Nimmo kept the inning alive with a single, followed by one for Francisco Alvarez, and a Lindor walked loaded the bases for Alonso, which sent the large Citi Field crowd into a frenzy. Alas, this time Alonso bounced one to second to end the inning.

The Cubs turned to Hayden Wesneski for the sixth inning, and McNeil greeted him with a line drive homer to right-center field that put the Mets up 3-2. That was McNeil's fifth home run of the year, to go along with 38 RBI, as he has built his batting average up to .253.

Then, Abraham Almonte got his first hit as a Met, a double to left field. After Mark Vientos reached on a fielder's choice which sent Almonte to third, Jonathan Arauz got an RBI single that opened up a 4-2 edge.

It stayed that way until the ninth, when Suzuki led off with a solo home run, his 10th of the season, to center field, off Adam Ottavino that made it 4-3 Mets. Candelario then singled and Mike Tauchman drew a walk, and that chased Ottavino.

Phil Bickford, the right-hander who the Mets brought in from the Dodgers at the trade deadline, came on. Nick Madrigal moved the runners over to second and third with one out, but then Morel struck out, Hoerner walked to load the bases, and Happ struck out swinging. 

That was Bickford's first save as a Met, and Hartwig earned the win to improve to 4-1 with a 3.27 ERA (earned run average). The Mets are now 52-62, as these two wins against the Cubs came after a six-game slide. Chicago, who entered this series as one of the hottest teams in baseball, having won 18 of 26 games going back to July 7, is now 59-56, just a half-game out of the final National League Wild Card spot.

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