Pete Alonso became only the second player to hit 50 homers in his rookie season Friday night.
But putting his achievement into context will have to take a back seat to trying to lead the New York Mets into the playoffs.
Alonso and the Mets will look to continue their uphill climb in the National League wild-card race Saturday afternoon when they visit the Cincinnati Reds in the middle game of a three-game series.
Zack Wheeler (11-7, 4.09 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Mets against the Reds’ Anthony DeSclafani (9-9, 3.93) in a battle of right-handers.
The Mets maintained their flickering playoff hopes Friday night when Alonso hit his milestone homer, a two-run shot in the eighth inning, in an 8-1 win. With the victory, New York (80-73) remained 3 1/2 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the race for the NL’s second wild card.
The Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.
Alonso is two homers shy of tying the rookie record, set by the New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge in 2017. But Alonso’s attention remains riveted on the unlikely playoff push being mounted by the Mets, who were tied for the second-worst record in the NL entering the All-Star Break.
“We’re trying to win games and trying to sneak into the playoffs here,” Alonso told reporters Friday night. “We still have an opportunity to make something great happen.
“So (50 homers) means the world to me, but I don’t think I’m going to have the ultimate appreciation for it until I can kind of sit back after the season, whenever that is.”
DeSclafani will hope to experience a little more good fortune than he did in his most recent start as he tries to nudge Alonso and the Mets a little closer to the reflective stage.
The Reds made the wrong kind of history Sept. 14, when DeSclafani struck out five over seven innings and took perhaps the hardest-luck loss in memory in a 1-0 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, who won the game despite having just one baserunner. Nick Ahmed led off the third inning with a triple and scored on Jarrod Dyson’s sacrifice fly.
The Reds were the first team since at least 1900 to lose a nine-inning game in which only one baserunner was allowed.
” ‘Disco’ was outstanding tonight,” Reds manager David Bell told reporters after the game. “You can’t do any more than what he did tonight.”
DeSclafani has allowed one run or fewer in four of his last six starts, a span in which he has recorded a 2.13 ERA to lower his overall ERA from 4.51 to 3.93.
Wheeler, meanwhile, has allowed one run in each of his last four starts, a span in which he has posted a 1.44 ERA to lower his overall ERA from 4.52 to 4.09. He didn’t factor into the decision last Sunday, when he gave up six hits and struck out nine over seven innings as the Mets fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
DeSclafani is 0-3 with a 6.74 ERA in five career appearances (four starts) against the Mets. Wheeler is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts against the Reds.
–Field Level Media