CHICAGO — Saturday afternoon brought the kind of well-rounded team win the Mets expected so many more of these past few months, the kind they seem eminently capable of if only things would go their way, the kind manager Mickey Callaway says they will need most days if they’re going to turn their season around.
The Mets beat the Cubs, 10-2, to snag consecutive wins for the first time in two weeks. Pete Alonso, Todd Frazier and Wilson Ramos homered. Zack Wheeler (6-5) cruised through seven innings. Jeff McNeil had another two hits and another three RBIs. The Mets scored in each of the first six innings, and every starting position player except Juan Lagares had at least one hit.
In the series finale Sunday, the Mets (37-40) have a shot at what would be their first series win on the road since April 1-3, a sweep in Miami.
“A lot of people,” Alonso said, “had really good days today.”
Alonso’s homer, a solo shot to right-center in the first, was historically significant for multiple reasons. His 26th long ball matched Darryl Strawberry’s 1983 total for the Mets’ rookie record — for an entire season. They also are the most by a rookie before the All-Star break in the history of the National League. Three American League first-year players had more: Mark McGwire (33), Aaron Judge (30) and Jose Abreu (29).
Credit social media for alerting Alonso as he approached Strawberry’s mark.
“When you hit a lot of homers, there’s a lot of buzz around it,” Alonso said.
That buzz is not going to slow down. He is on pace for 54 dingers, which puts two other significant feats on his radar: the Mets’ single-season record, 41, held by Carlos Beltran (2006) and Todd Hundley (1996), and Judge’s major-league rookie record (52 in 2017).
“I’m really happy with myself,” Alonso said. “I’m just gonna keep on playing well and try to hit the ball hard. That’s it. Can’t really try to hit home runs, because every time I try to, I usually get out. So I just need to concentrate on having a good approach and hitting the ball hard. Hopefully, they go out of the park. If not, it’s whatever.”
Said Callaway: “It’s ridiculous. The power is unbelievable. The ability to hit is unbelievable. He’s doing it all.”
McNeil has multiple hits in five straight games, which isn’t even his longest such stretch of the season (six straight in April). His average is up to .342 and his OPS is .901. His three RBIs matched his career high, which he has done a bunch of times, including Friday.
Callaway said McNeil will sit Sunday. “We knew that coming in,” Callaway said. “That’s how we’re going to keep him fresh and keep him out there performing.”
Four of the Cubs’ first six batters reached base. Then Wheeler retired 15 in a row until the seventh, when the Cubs loaded the bases with none out but scored only one run, on Victor Caratini’s double-play grounder.
Wheeler finished with five strikeouts and one walk and allowed five hits.
“Those first two innings kind of wore him out a little bit, so he was tired at the end,” Callaway said. “But man, did he pitch well.”
When Wheeler settled in and the Mets padded their lead, it made Callaway’s job easy. That was true of his players, too.
“You don’t ever relax, but you go out there with a little bit of easiness that hey, all I have to do is put a good swing on the ball, or all I have to do is get ahead,” Callaway said.
“Those type of moments hopefully will allow you to understand that even when the game is on the line . . . you can have that same approach.”
THE POLAR BEAR EXPRESS
Pete Alonso tied Darryl Strawberry for the Mets’ rookie home run record . . . and it’s only June!
26, tied for 1st
Pete Alonso, 26, 2019
Darryl Strawberry, 26, 1983
19, tied for 3rd
Ike Davis, 2010
Ron Swoboda, 1965
17, tied for 5th
Jay Payton, 2000
John Milner, 1972