Throughout his young career, Pete Alonso has handled the NL East rival Phillies well. He has taken it to another level so far this year.
Friday night was yet another dominant performance. Alonso homered, drove in four runs and made a sparkling play in the field to save at least one run as the Mets continued their strong start against the Phillies with an 8-6 victory in front of 30,175 at Citi Field to begin a six-game homestand.
The first-place Mets have now beaten the Phillies seven times in 10 meetings, and in those contests, Alonso has five home runs, 17 RBIs and is batting .351 with an OPS of 1,143. The last time the two teams met before this latest encounter, Alonso helped the Mets salvage a doubleheader split on May 8 by going deep twice and driving in five runs in the nightcap.
“I haven’t really changed anything. I feel like I’m executing a little bit better,” Alonso said of his standout first two months of the season. “Just having more time and more understanding of myself, who I am as a player, that’s kind of helped [me] executed.”
Friday night, without Alonso’s offensive production and that big defensive play in the second inning, the Mets (30-17) would’ve been in trouble. It allowed them to survive the Phillies’ six-run sixth inning. Alonso drove in runs in each of his first three at-bats and was intentionally walked in his fourth. He now leads the majors with 45 RBIs and set a Mets record with the most RBIs before Memorial Day, breaking Bernard Gilkey’s previous mark of 44, set in 1996.
“Not a lot of dips and back and forth, not knowing what you’re going to get every day. He’s always a pitch away,” manager Buck Showalter said. “He doesn’t dwell on that last at-bat or that last game. And when he gets a hit and drives in a run the first one, he’s trying to get another one. I don’t want to say greedy, but he never stops pushing.”
The tone for the early part of the evening was set on the first pitch to Brandon Nimmo. He hit a routine grounder to shortstop Bryson Stott, who threw wild to first base, igniting a three-run Mets rally. Twice, the Mets scored on shallow sacrifice flies to right field, with Nimmo and Starling Marte easily outrunning the right arm of Nick Castellanos.
Contrast that to the top of the second, when a diving Alonso robbed Odubel Herrera of a double and at least one RBI. Carlos Carrasco made the defensive gem stand up by retiring Garrett Stubbs on a groundout.
The lead grew to 7-0 after Alonso’s two-run homer in the third and his run-scoring double in the fourth. It felt like a laugher, but the Phillies had other ideas.
They broke through against Carrasco in the sixth, starting with a pair of well-placed infield hits by Rhys Hoskins and Alec Bohm. Run-scoring singles by Bryce Harper and Castellanos made it a 7-2 game.
Carrasco rebounded momentarily by retiring the next two hitters, but after he walked Herrera, Showalter went to his bullpen and Chasen Shreve imploded. He left a 1-2 splitter over the middle of the plate and Stubbs parked a three-run homer to right. Suddenly, 7-0 was 7-6, and a strong outing by Carrasco looked very different.
“They got me in the last inning, but you guys saw the game,” said Carrasco, who won for the fifth time this season. “Soft contact right there.”
On Hoskins’ hit, Carrasco jammed his left thumb while diving for the ball, part of the reason Showalter took him out at 85 pitches. But afterwards, Carrasco said he felt OK.
“Everything is good,” Carrasco said.
The Phillies’ final threat came in the eighth, when they had runners on second and third with one out. But Joely Rodriguez struck out Stubbs and Seth Lugo was able to get JT Realmuto to pop out to end the inning.
Fittingly, it was Alonso who tracked the ball down in foul territory. He provided the impetus for this victory.