Pete Alonso, first-time All-Star, was out early Wednesday afternoon, engaging in another round of what could only be described as Home Run Derby practice. It looked like regular BP, only Alonso was pitched to by his cousin, Derek Morgan, and every max effort swing was for the fences.
Alonso already is soaking up his All-Star experience, days before it officially begins next week in Cleveland, and the Mets’ burly first baseman can only hope he’s got something left after launching pitch after pitch deep into the Citi Field seats, a ritual he’s naturally suited for.
Alonso will have two other Mets joining him at the Midsummer Classic, with Jeff McNeil and Jacob deGrom also members of the NL squad. For an underachieving team that entered Wednesday’s Subway Series finale eight games under .500, that’s a respectable number of Stars, and McNeil again displayed his brilliance by smacking Domingo German’s first pitch into the rightfield bullpen area for his seventh homer.
The Mets clearly are thrilled with their deserving trio going to Cleveland, a highlight to an otherwise gloomy season, and that stood out in contrast Wednesday to the developments over in the Yankees’ clubhouse. With three more AL reserves announced, and none of them being Gleyber Torres, it was understandable that Aaron Boone was irked by the snub.
“I think it’s a joke that he’s not on that team,” Boone said pregame. “Gleyber Torres not an All-Star? You can kick rocks on that one. That’s ridiculous. He’s been unbelievable for us, for a first-place club. I mean, it doesn’t seem right to me that he’s not on that team.”
In the bigger, championship-chasing picture, the Torres dis has to be considered a small inconvenience for the Yankees. They have games to win, and division titles to clinch, and, well, you get the idea. DJ LeMahieu — who is going to Cleveland — chipped in early Wednesday with a leadoff double and scored the first run when Aaron Judge followed with a rocket double that one-hopped the leftfield wall.
The Yankees, an extraordinarily-successful unit with men on base this season, had their trouble in that capacity during Tuesday’s 4-2 loss. They were just 1-for-9, which was quite a departure for a team that was hitting .302 with a .377 on-base percentage with runners in scoring position — best in the majors in both categories.
Credit Zack Wheeler and a revived Mets’ bullpen for keeping the Yankees down in the Subway Series opener. But that trend continued Wednesday with Jason Vargas, who gave up two RISP hits in the first inning and then tightened up into the sixth. At one point, the Yankees were just 5-for-28 with runners on in this series, as Vargas’ baffling pitches went from slow to slower to slowest.
Unfortunately for the Mets, they experienced the same frustration with German, who served up McNeil’s leadoff homer and then shut the door. This was German’s first start back since missing nearly a month with a left hip flexor strain and this was the good Domingo, the one who had a 2.50 ERA through his first nine games (eight starts). In the four starts before his IL trip, German had a 7.32 ERA, with opponents hitting .302 against him.
“He’s obviously ready to go,” Boone said before the game.
German scattered four hits through six innings after McNeil’s blast, and Alonso’s third-inning double was the only time a Met made it as far as second base. Maybe that gave the rest of the Yankees enough time for the London jet-lag to finally wear off, as Didi Gregorius ended Vargas’ night in the sixth with a monster home run into the second deck of the Coca-Cola porch.
The Yankees lost their 31-game homer-streak the previous night, but they didn’t have to wait very long for an encore to Gregorius as Gio Urshela followed with a shot of his own over the leftfield wall. And just like that, the Yankees seemed to be whole again.
How much of Tuesday’s funk was attributable to the Yankees’ weekend trip across the pond was almost impossible to determine. The Mets played well behind Wheeler that night, and turned in the kind of performance they’ve always been capable of — but rarely delivered this year.
In the Yankees’ mind, however, order was restored Wednesday night in the Subway Series. They appeared to feel like themselves again, and even Torres made his point with an RBI single in the seventh, raising his RISP average to .412 with 37 RBIs.
Certainly worthy of All-Star status, if not the title and the trip.