It hasn’t been the start that Pete Alonso or the New York Mets would have preferred.
But if Wednesday night’s 11-6 win over the Washington Nationals at Citi Field is any indication, last year’s National League Rookie of the Year might be locked in and ready to carry New York into playoff contention.
Alonso doubled twice, homered and drove in three runs to lead the Mets’ onslaught that put them in position to split their four-game series with Washington should they win on Thursday.
Alonso, who clouted 53 homers in 2019 and drove in 120 runs, entered Wednesday with a .197 average, two homers and seven RBIs. But he felt he was close to a breakthrough, based on the previous eight or nine games.
“It’s like an airplane taking off,” he said. “I’m in takeoff mode before you get to cruising altitude.”
Alonso’s sixth-inning homer Wednesday, a line shot that curled inside the left field foul pole, was the type of well-struck ball that marked his rookie year. Even better signs were his doubles, both going to the opposite field.
With Alonso in attack mode, New York’s lineup looked fearsome for a night. Brandon Nimmo and Dominic Smith also cracked homers, while Michael Conforto went 2-for-3 with a two-run double and scored three runs.
They combined to go 7-for-11 with eight runs and eight RBIs, enabling the Mets to win easily on a night where they cycled through seven pitchers in a bullpen game and fell behind 3-0 before the top of the first inning was over.
New York will hope for length out of rookie left-hander David Peterson (2-1, 3.78) in the series finale. Peterson is coming off an 8-4 win Saturday night against Miami, when he allowed two runs on four hits in five innings with three walks and three strikeouts. This will be his first outing against the Nationals.
Washington could also use a good outing from its starter, right-hander Austin Voth (0-1, 1.80). He delivered five scoreless innings on Saturday night against Baltimore, leaving with a lead that the Nationals’ bullpen coughed up in a 5-3 defeat.
Voth is 1-1 with a 5.40 earned run average in three games, two of them starts, against the Mets.
Washington got only 2 2/3 innings from starter Anibal Sanchez on Wednesday night, then lost lefty reliever Sam Freeman to a flexor strain in the fourth inning.
Nationals manager Dave Martinez said after the game that Freeman told him he felt a pop in his elbow while throwing his final pitch. Freeman is expected to have an MRI scan on Friday morning, Martinez said.
While Washington is struggling to find consistency on the mound, its offense is finding a groove behind young star outfielder Juan Soto. He belted two homers Wednesday night, including a 466-foot shot that cleared the seats in the upper deck in right field.
That came just two nights after a 463-foot blast that cleared the Mets’ “Big Apple” display behind the center field wall.
“You don’t even feel it,” Soto said to mlb.com after Monday night’s tape-measure shot. “You just see the ball jumping off the bat and don’t feel anything.”
— Field Level Media