Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Buck On Pete: “I’m amazed at how tough he is mentally and emotionally”

Pete Alonso getting ready to hit against Texas' Dane Dunning in the third inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

One month ago, the Mets declared it was all about the future, as they traded veterans, including their co-aces Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. Now, the focus is on whether first baseman Pete Alonso will be part of that future.

Alonso has put up massive numbers once again, as he has 39 home runs, second in the National League to Atlanta's Matt Olson, who has 43, and third in the Major Leagues, with the Angels' Shohei Ohtani leading the way. He is one shy of recording his third 40-home run season, as he had 53 in his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2019 and 40 last season, and his 185 home runs since '19 are the most in the Major Leagues in that span. He also has driven in 96 runs, which is fourth-most in the Majors, behind Olson (112) and Houston's Kyle Tucker and Texas' Adolis Garcia, who each have 97. The one downside this season is his average has dipped to .219 from .271 last season, which was a career-high.

In addition, Alonso keeps climbing the Mets' all-time ranks, as he now has 185 career home runs, which is fifth-best in club history. He is just 7 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). He is the only Met in franchise history with multiple seasons of at least 40 homers. 

Alonso now has 476 career RBI, which is 10th all-time in Mets history, as he recently passed 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).

The question is whether the Mets give him a contract extension now and avoid him becoming a free agent after next season, or trade him in the offseason.

Mets Manager Buck Showalter, in his pregame press conference on Wednesday afternoon, was asked if Alonso is affected by the noise at all, and he said, “Well, we’re all human beings. He’s handled a lot of things that would affect normal people, as far as in toughness. There’s probably ten things like that that nobody’s really aware of that happen off the field, I mean I could go back. I’ve been amazed how tough he is mentally and emotionally, as many swings as there are at this level. You know, you’re great one day, next day, you’re not, but I’m not going to sit here and say that some of this stuff - I mean, I talk to him every day. 

“Today, he seemed to be in a really good frame of mind. I try to make a pass by Pete, sometimes we sit down in my office, talk about the price of rice, but he, I’m not going to tell you it doesn’t. You know, we all have a - because he cares so much, you know, and you do care what people think. 

“Pete’s a pleaser, he wants to please the people that have expectations of him, and that’s a hard act to follow every year. The guy’s going to drive in 100 runs again, hit 40 home runs again; he’s going to post up every day. I mean, we’re lucky to have him. We’re lucky to have him.”

METS 6, RANGERS 5 (10 innings): The Mets, led by a career night for DJ Stewart, took the series finale from the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night at Citi Field, as they avoided a three-game sweep. The Mets are now 61-73, while Texas fell to 75-58 as they are amidst a brutal battle for the American League West title.

Denyi Reyes got the start for the Mets in this one, as they pushed Kodai Senga back to give him a little extra rest and is set to go on Friday night against the Seattle Mariners.

Denyi Reyes firing one in to Jonah Heim in the fifth inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

This was Reyes' third start of the season, with the first two coming in opening games of doubleheaders with the Atlanta Braves. This was his best outing by far, as he went 5 1/3 innings, and allowed two runs (earned) on three hits and no walks, with three strikeouts.

The Mets got the early lead in this one against Texas starter Dane Dunning, as Daniel Vogelbach and DJ Stewart went back-to-back, just the eighth time the Mets have done that this season. Each left-handed slugger blasted one to right field, and it was Vogelbach's 13th homer of the season, and Stewart's eighth. Later in the inning, Brandon Nimmo had an RBI double to make it 3-0 Mets.

Texas got one back in the fifth, as Corey Seager blasted a solo home run to the opposite field, his 25th of the season, and they made it 3-2 Mets in the sixth when Leody Tavares singled and came in to score when Sean Reid-Foley walked Adolis Garcia with the bases loaded.

The Rangers got the lead in the eighth, as Brooks Raley allowed singles to Marcus Semien and Seager before walking Nathaniel Lowe to load the bases. Adam Ottavino entered, and he forced in a run by hitting Garcia with a pitch, and then after Mitch Garver bounced into a double play, Jonah Heim laced a two-run single to make it 5-3.

Then, with Jose Leclerc on for the Rangers, Alonso led off with a single, and then after Francisco Alvarez struck out, Stewart blasted another one to right field, a two-run shot, to tie the game at 5. This was the second time in two weeks that Stewart had a multi-homer game, as he also had a pair against Pittsburgh on August 16. 

Then, in the tenth, Aroldis Chapman was on for the Rangers, and with Jeff McNeil as the ghost runner, they intentionally walked Alonso followed by a walk to Alvarez to load the bases for Stewart. 

The first pitch from Chapman came in and hit him square in the back, and McNeil came in on the walk-off hit-by-pitch. That gave Stewart four RBI on the night, and he now has nine homers and 18 RBI on the season.

Chapman, who left the Yankees last offseason and began the year in Kansas City, fell to 5-3, with a 2.50 ERA (earned run average) on the season. Jeff Brigham, who pitched two scoreless innings, got the win, his first of the season.

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