NEW YORK — Pete Alonso wasn’t thinking about Max Scherzer’s oblique injury when he entered the plate in the 10th inning Thursday afternoon, any more than he was thinking about Francisco Lindor’s form at home plate or the snow forecast imminent in Denver. These are all relevant issues for the team, but they weren’t for Alonso at the time.
“I was just looking in my area, in my region,” Alonso said. “It came exactly where I was looking, where I wanted it, and I capitalized.”
“He” was Giovanny Gallegos, the closest St. Louis came in to protect a one-run lead in 10th. The ‘zone’ in question was in the middle, right where Alonso likes it. The pitch was a fastball. With all of those factors in his favor, Alonso did what he does best, kicking the ball 447 feet to the edge of a glass-encased luxury club in Citi Field’s second deck. The two-run homer lifted the Mets to a 7-6 victory over the Cardinals, allowing them to shrug off news of Scherzer’s impending absence on what otherwise could have been a depressing day.
“I mean, it sucks to hear about Max,” Alonso said. “But we will fight and play hard behind whoever throws the ball for us.”
On Thursday, it wasn’t just Alonso, whose starting homer gave him sole possession of Major League Baseball’s RBI lead with 36. It was also Jeff McNeil, who drove home three runs at the plate. and made two great catches in left field. , including a leaping grab that got him started on a key double play in the seventh. It was Lindor, who at one point had reached base safely in eight straight plate appearances. It was Chris Bassitt, who got off to a pretty good start, and three relievers who limited the damage.
The Mets, in their own way, prefer not to point any of these players. They prefer to see things as a team. In this context, the Mets:
• Went 26-14, tied for fourth-best record in 40 games in franchise history
• 3-0 in overtime games, including two forfeits
• Have posted a 10-1-1 record in their first 12 series of the season
• Possess the largest division lead in baseball, at seven games against the Phillies
These facts are all true despite the fact that the Mets have played all season without Jacob deGrom, and now find themselves without Scherzer, teammate Tylor Megill and starting catcher James McCann.
“That says a lot about this team,” McNeil said. “We come here every day, fighting, fighting. It doesn’t matter who’s on the field, we play good baseball.
The Mets did most of their damage Thursday in the fifth inning, when McNeil hit a home run single to turn a one-run deficit into a one-run lead. Closest Edwin Díaz restored that lead to ninth, although it was not his fault; both of the Cardinals’ hits came on dribblers in the field, and Díaz eventually recovered to block loaded bases. St. Louis scored once more in the 10th, bringing Alonso – who had driven home a run with a one-way into the opposite field in the first inning – home with Lindor, the auto-runner, at second base.
The first baseman took a slider well off the plate to start the bat, then pounced as Gallegos threw the pitch he was hoping to see: a 92mph fastball in a perfect spot for him to hit it. ‘crushed.
When Alonso did, his teammates got out of the dugout, spraying him with Gatorade and harassing him on the field.
“This group is extremely special – not just the character, but also the kind of work ethic that we have,” Alonso said. “We are a brave group and we are super resilient. We just want to go out and do our best and win every day.