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Padres power up early, but Alonso gets last word

@AJCassavell
May 8, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- It’s the most exciting Rookie of the Month race in baseball history. And it’s only May 7. A day after Chris Paddack called out fellow rookie Pete Alonso, then struck him out twice, Alonso took his revenge on a weary Padres bullpen. The Mets’ slugger launched a

SAN DIEGO -- It’s the most exciting Rookie of the Month race in baseball history. And it’s only May 7.

A day after Chris Paddack called out fellow rookie Pete Alonso, then struck him out twice, Alonso took his revenge on a weary Padres bullpen. The Mets’ slugger launched a mammoth go-ahead home run in the ninth, sending New York to a 7-6 victory at Petco Park. He punctuated it with a purposeful bat flip.

Box score

“Just a bad pitch,” said right-hander Adam Warren, who left his 2-2 fastball on the inner half of the plate. “Probably one of the only bad pitches I threw. I feel like I was hitting my spots and just missed to the wrong guy at the wrong time.”

The Padres entered play Tuesday riding a wave of excitement, the likes of which isn’t often seen at Petco Park. They beat the Dodgers on Sunday with a walk-off grand slam. They beat the Mets on Monday when Paddack -- who had voiced his displeasure at Alonso’s National League Rookie of the Month Award -- struck out 11.

On Tuesday, the Mets served up a dose of reality: The Padres’ bullpen is trending in the wrong direction. A season ago, it was arguably the best in the National League. Right now, it’s overworked and teetering. Three key relievers are on the injured list, and Matt Strahm -- a force in the middle innings last year -- has moved to the rotation.

“We may be a little worn down, missing a couple key guys, but we've got to pick up the slack,” said right-hander Craig Stammen. “We've got to figure out a way to get it done.”

Franmil Reyes and Ty France homered to give San Diego an early advantage. But the Mets responded with three runs in the seventh to tie the game. Phil Maton put two men aboard, and Stammen allowed both of those runs, plus another, to score.

That set the stage for Alonso, who sent Warren’s fastball 449 feet to left field. His ensuing bat flip was a clear response to Paddack’s fist-pumps and shouts when he set down Alonso on Monday. Warren didn’t see Alonso’s celebration, but he didn’t take any issue with it, either.

“No, that's the right time to celebrate when you go ahead in the ninth,” Warren said. “I knew it was gone, so, like I said, I'm not going to sit there and watch it. Doesn't do me any good.”

Manager Andy Green was mostly fine with the flip, as well. He took issue with its proximity to home-plate umpire Bill Miller and catcher Francisco Mejia, who ducked out of the way. Afterward, Alonso apologized to Miller, noting the bat stuck to the pine tar on his hand.

“I think everybody in the game's fine with bat flips,” Green said. “Maybe everybody's not, but it doesn't bother me at all. You hit a ball like that, just get [the bat] away from the catcher and the umpire.”

Out of nowhere, a rivalry may be emerging -- one that’s already defined by bat-flips and fist-pumps. Through two games, it’s all square.

Yates on the shelf

Twice over the weekend, Green turned to closer Kirby Yates in a tie game in the ninth inning. Yates surrendered the go-ahead run both times.

On Tuesday, Green changed his tactics. With a tie game in the ninth, Green asked for another inning out of Warren instead. The veteran right-hander was sharp during a 1-2-3 eighth. He allowed an infield single in the ninth before Alonso’s moonshot.

Green cited Yates’ overuse as the reason he remained on the shelf. Yates is tied for second in the Majors with 18 appearances, and after his hot start, he hit a rough patch. The Padres predetermined that Yates wouldn’t pitch a tie game in the ninth if they could avoid it.

“Obviously, we’d love to have Kirby out there in the ninth inning,” Green said. “But we’ve got to be cognizant of what he’s done this year and how many innings he’s thrown. Occasionally we’ve got to give him a breather.”

Drama in the ninth

Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, two outs, one-run game -- it’s the quintessential baseball moment. Hunter Renfroe has now lived it twice in the last three days.

On Sunday he became just the fourth player in Padres history with a come-from-behind walk-off slam. On Tuesday, the results weren’t so favorable.

Still, the Padres responded nicely to Alonso’s go-ahead two-run dinger. Reyes, who was 3-for-5, plated a run with a single, and the Padres loaded the bases with one out. But Eric Hosmer went down looking at a nasty two-seamer from Mets closer Edwin Diaz that clipped the inside corner.

Then Renfroe bounced to short. Not this time.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.