On one of the key plays in a 4-2 loss to the Yankees, Pete Alonso got caught backpedaling, backpedaling, backpedaling — and now so are the Mets.
Alonso gave chase to Jose Trevino’s pop-up down the rightfield line, but when he ended up twisting around and walking with his back to the even deeper parts of the outfield, the ball eluded his glove completely and fell fair. Trevino had a single and the Yankees had runners on the corners, setting up what became their game-deciding rally.
He seemed not to beat himself up about it.
“I did the best I could,” Alonso said. “It’s a long, tough run.”
Jeff McNeil couldn’t quite get there; Starling Marte was closer but pulled up and deferred to the first baseman. It was sort of his fault, but also sort of not anybody’s fault. It just happened — a lot like the shrinkage of the Mets’ lead in the NL East, now just two games over second-place Atlanta.
The Mets went 4-6 on a road trip against three playoff contenders. But they also went 18-9 in a stretch of 27 games in 26 days that began right after the Queens edition of the Subway Series. Atlanta is 18-7 in that same span.
At least now the Mets get to rest Wednesday.
“It’s going to be nice, I’m not going to lie to you,” Alonso said. “We’ve been playing a lot of real high-quality teams, and that’s nice. But we’ve had some really close calls. I feel like that we had opportunities to take some more of those games.”
Yep, this was one of those games, Alonso allowed. And he was in the middle of it all — good, bad and bat-breaking.
That Alonso finished 2-for-4 doesn’t quite tell the full story of his night. He helped the Mets blow a scoring chance in the first inning, popping up a 3-and-1 slider over the heart of the plate for an out. Then he struck out on a tasty-looking high fastball in the fourth.
The disappointment — exclusively in himself — was evident on his face the moment the ball reached catcher Kyle Higashioka’s glove. On the way back to the dugout, Alonso snapped his bat over his knee like a toothpick. He said with a smile after that it didn’t hurt.
“I just really didn’t want to chase that pitch up in the zone,” he said. “I saw the ball well, but I don’t know why I swung. It looked too good to hold up. I knew immediately it was out of my zone and I was really frustrated at chasing at that pitch.”
His new bat apparently had some hits in it. He smoked singles — at 116 mph and 107 mph — in his next two at-bats. After the first of those, he scored on McNeil’s double despite stumbling around third base (reaching home because Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres, in pursuit of McNeil by foot, ignored him).
Alonso’s funk over the past couple of weeks: .183 (11-for-60) with one homer. Maybe this was the start of a turnaround.
“It’s frustrating that we couldn’t get the win,” he said, “but I felt like I had a pretty decent game today.”