What has been true so often for the Mets this season was true again Tuesday: Pete Alonso was just about the only highlight.
Alonso mashed his 42nd home run of the year, setting a franchise single-season record, but the Mets lost to the Cubs, 5-2.
With this loss and a sweep by the Braves over the weekend, the Mets (67-64) have lost four games in a row, their longest losing streak in two months. They are three games back of the Cubs (70-61) for the last National League wild-card spot, and they haven’t been further back since Aug. 3.
“We’ve bonded through the struggles of this year,” Alonso said. “There’s plenty of people who wrote us off and are continuing to write us off. We’re going to keep on working.”
Alonso, though, continued to amaze. In the fourth inning of a scoreless game, he got ahold of a first-pitch fastball — a little high and a little outside — from Yu Darvish and crushed it about 407 feet to right-center, off the Dunkin’ Donuts billboard above the home bullpen.
As Alonso rounded the bases, the Citi Field sound system blared the theme from “The Natural.” As the next batter, Michael Conforto, stepped to the plate, Alonso popped out of the dugout for a curtain call.
With that long ball, Alonso broke a tie with Todd Hundley, who hit 41 homers in 1996, and Carlos Beltran, who hit 41 in 2006. No other Met has hit more in the 58-season history of the team.
“I haven’t even wrapped my mind around it yet,” Alonso said. “It’s nuts.”
How high can Alonso push his own record? He is trying not to think about it. But he is 10 shy of Aaron Judge’s major-league rookie record (52 in 2017) and pending the result of late games Tuesday was tied with the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger and Angels’ Mike Trout for most homers in 2019.
“If I focus too far (ahead) and think too much, then the results aren’t going to be there,” Alonso said. “I want to be able to focus all of my energy into the now. At the end of the year, I can look up and hopefully I can really appreciate what’s happened.”
The previous record-holders congratulated Alonso in statements released by the Mets.
“It’s a pleasure to have a fine young player like Pete Alonso break my record,” said Beltran, a special assistant to the GM for the Yankees. “I have not met Pete personally but people have told me he plays the game with passion and doesn’t give up on any at-bat. He has had great success in his first year. Again, my congrats, Pete.”
And Hundley: “To me, [Alonso is] more than a power hitter, he’s a pure hitter. I have seen five or six of his games and he keeps getting better and better. He has just had a tremendous year. Congrats, Pete you deserve all the records you have broken.”
Add it to the list of Pete’s feats in his rookie year. He is the first first-year player to break his team’s single-season homer record since Johnny Rizzo did so for the 1938 Pirates. He had 23.
Two other homer milestones worth monitoring: Alonso is 10 shy of Aaron Judge’s major-league rookie record (52 in 2017). And pending the results of other games Tuesday, Alonso was tied with the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger and Angels’ Mike Trout for most homers in 2019.
The Alonso-provided lead didn’t last long. Marcus Stroman turned in another pedestrian performance, allowing four runs in six innings. All of the runs scored on a pair of two-run homers: Addison Russell’s in the fifth and Javier Baez’s in the sixth. J.D. Davis hit his 16th homer in the ninth for the Mets to complete the scoring.
Stroman has a 4.91 ERA in five games with the Mets. He has lasted about five innings per start.
“I need to be better,” Stroman said. “I thought I threw the ball pretty well. I just made bad pitches in big moments to Baez and Russell and they capitalized. Pretty frustrating.”
Darvish largely cruised for eight innings of one-run ball. He struck out seven, allowed five hits and walked one — Todd Frazier on four pitches in the fifth, Darvish’s first free pass since July 23, six starts ago.
“We’re just not getting the timely hit or the big hit when we need it to keep us rolling,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “It’ll change.”
Making His Mark
The numbers that add up to Pete Alonso’s franchise-record 42-homer season:
Citi Field HRs 22
Road HRs 20
Vs. RHP 29
Vs. LHP 13