September 21, 2023

Murphy’s law bites Mets’ Pete Alonso at Home Run Derby

New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) before the All-Star Home Run Derby at T-Mobile Park

New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) for the All-Star Home Run Derby at T-Mobile Park / Joe Nicholson – USA TODAY Sports

Well it’s been such a year for the Mets and Peter Alonso.

Even in the Home Run Derby, the event he loves.

It wasn’t just that Alonso went up against a man in the first round who set a record for most home runs in one round, as the Mariners’ Julie Rodriguez absolutely went off for the crowd in Seattle’s hometown.

No, Alonso’s well-thought-out plan was changed before the event started: his hand-picked pitcher, his old Tampa travel ball coach called Mike Friedlinhad to bow out due to a forearm injury after throwing several BP sessions at the Mets’ slugger in recent days.

Instead, Alonso had one of the Mets’ regular BP pitchers fly to Seattle, presumably at short notice, and let’s just say the moment was a little too big for the man on Monday night.

After watching Rodriguez launch 41 home runs, Alonso needed everything to stand a chance, even as a two-time Derby champion who once called himself the best power hitter in the world after winning the event for a second time in 2021.

Instead, the BP pitcher really didn’t give Alonso a chance, struggling with his control to the point that he threw as many pitches to the outside corner as he did to the slugger’s sweet spot on the inside half of the plate.

With only three minutes to hit as many HRs as possible, Alonso couldn’t afford to take pitches and wait for his man to find a groove. So he ended up hitting a lot of outfields to the opposing field, and not for home runs.

He still managed to hit 21 home runs, but that was nowhere near good enough, and for the second year in a row, Alonso was bounced by Rodriguez. Better pitching could at least have given him a chance, but the Mets’ star gave all the credit to his opponent.

“I thought I put on a good show, I just came across a circular saw,” Alonso told reporters in Seattle. “He had a ridiculously historic first round. That was incredible to watch.”

As it turns out, Rodriguez may have exhausted himself in that first round. He lost in the next round to Vlad Guerrero Jr.who won the Derby by beating Randy Arozena in the final.

And I know Alonso’s pitcher had his last name on the back of his jersey, but I don’t think it’s necessary to mention him for the story. He pitches BP to Citi Field for the Mets and he’ll probably get enough grief already.

As it was, jokes flew on Twitter on Monday night:

“I haven’t seen a man paint the corners like that since Maddux.”

“Maybe we should look to him for (the Mets’) bullpen.”

And then there were those who couldn’t resist waving one more time at a piece of low-hanging fruit.

“Pete should have brought Max to the pitch.”

And that wasn’t the only reference to it Max Scherzeras Mets fans have officially lost all patience with the three-time Cy Young winner after he gave up those home runs Manny Machado on Sunday.

Yes, it’s been such a year for both the Mets fans and the ball club. Nothing seemed to go right, starting with that night in mid-March then Edwin Diaz suffered a serious knee injury while celebrating a World Baseball Classic win for Team Puerto Rico.

Even with 26 home runs this season, Alonso has been a big reason for the Mets’ offensive inconsistency. He started the season hot with 20 home runs on May 27e. But since then, he hit just six in June and July, but more importantly, he hit just .149, 14-for-94, in that time to lower his season average to .211.

A hit to the left wrist a few weeks ago didn’t help, sidelining him for several days, but Alonso still hoped the Home Run Derby would be just what he needed to jump. start his second half.

“I always feel this event helps me keep my swing,” Alonso said ahead of the Derby on Monday.

We will see. He hit two home runs last week during the Mets’ six-game winning streak, but then went 0-for-10 in San Diego over the weekend. During the Arizona series with the Diamondbacks, SNY analyst Keith Hernandez said on one of the broadcasts that “Pete just looks at me.”

Perhaps that will change in the second half. The Mets need a lot to change quickly if they want to get back into wild card contention.

In the grand scheme of things, losing the Derby is of course unimportant.

It’s just that, as it turned out, everything that could go wrong for Alonso in this event did go wrong, which pretty much sums up the Mets’ season so far.

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