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Alonso sparks Mets by making NL rookie history

@Russ_Dorsey1
June 22, 2019

CHICAGO -- Pete Alonso keeps hitting homers and the records keep falling, as the rookie slugger reached two more milestones in the Mets’ 10-2 win over the Cubs on Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Alonso battled Cubs starter Jose Quintana for six pitches in his first at-bat of the day

CHICAGO -- Pete Alonso keeps hitting homers and the records keep falling, as the rookie slugger reached two more milestones in the Mets’ 10-2 win over the Cubs on Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

Alonso battled Cubs starter Jose Quintana for six pitches in his first at-bat of the day before reaching a full count. On the seventh pitch, Alonso unloaded on a Quintana curveball, driving it deep into the seats in right-center field to give the Mets a first-inning lead.

Box score

Alonso’s 26th homer of the season tied the franchise single-season rookie record for home runs, set by Mets great Darryl Strawberry in 1983.

“I guess I’ve been kind of seeing stuff on social media. I guess when you hit a lot of homers, there’s a lot of buzz around it. If other people didn’t tell me, I would have no idea,” Alonso said of the Mets’ record.

The 419-foot solo shot also broke the National League record for most home runs by a rookie before the All-Star break, passing Cody Bellinger, who set the record with 25 homers in 2017.

“It’s ridiculous,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “The power is unbelievable. He’s doing it all.”

Alonso, who finished the game 2-for-4 with two runs scored, is also now just two home runs shy of Mark McGwire's all-time record for the most home runs by a rookie before July 1 (28 in 1987).

It all adds up to a torrid home run pace for the Mets’ rookie, with more records likely to fall in the near future. With 26 bombs on June 22, Alonso is on track to break Bellinger’s NL single-season rookie record of 39 homers set in 2017, as well as the Mets’ overall team record of 41 home runs, set by Todd Hundley in 1996 and tied by Carlos Beltrán in 2006. Even Aaron Judge’s MLB single-season rookie record of 52 homers seems unsafe with the way Alonso is locked in right now.

“I really don’t think about it, honestly. I just try to help this team win. That’s all I can do. All I can control is my effort, my preparation level and what I do between the lines and whatever happens, happens,” Alonso said.

While he’s not making them his focus, all three feats are on his radar.

“Judge has [the MLB rookie record], right? 52?” he said with a wry grin.

Power leads the way

New York’s offense exploded during Saturday’s win over the Cubs as the Mets collected 12 hits and put up double-digit runs for the fifth time this season.

The Mets pounced on Quintana early and often, scoring at least one run in every inning the Cubs’ starter was on the mound.

It’s no surprise that on a warm day with the wind blowing out, the offensive outburst was led by the long ball. Alonso, Todd Frazier and Wilson Ramos all homered, and the Mets have now gone deep in 18 of their 20 games in June.

“This was good,” Frazier said. “Everybody contributed and everyone came to play today. Got ’em early, got ’em often. Hopefully, we can keep it going. That’d be nice.”

Leadoff man Jeff McNeil picked up right where he left off after his heroic performance in Friday’s 5-4 win.

After failing to be named an All-Star outfield finalist for the National League, McNeil continued his red-hot hitting against the Cubs, collecting two more hits and driving in three on Saturday. He’s now hitting .429 in the series vs. Chicago and leads the MLB with a .364 average on the road.

“For a guy like McNeil, in the past, I would tell guys to throw it right down the middle. That’s not a joke. You make him choose whether he wants to pull it or hit it the other way,” Callaway said. “If you throw it to the corners, he’s probably gonna get a hit. Because he can poke it or pull it. You don’t see him get a hit up the middle of the field very often.

“There’s a lot of guys who have been like that through the years. Ichiro was one of them. You throw him in, he’s gonna get a hit. You throw him away, he’s going to stick his bat out there and get a hit.”

The Mets’ super-utility man now has multiple hits in five consecutive games and leads the team with 28 multi-hit games on the season.

Wheeler silences Cubs lineup

Zack Wheeler didn’t have to do much as his offense provided the heavy lifting, but his performance was more than just a footnote.

Wheeler cleverly worked his way out of jams, tossing seven innings and allowing one run. He was able to effectively miss bats by mixing all four pitches, surrendering just five hits while striking out five and walking one en route to his sixth win of the season.

“I executed well today with everything that I had,” Wheeler said. “My slider was actually working, for the most part, today and I was able to keep them off balance. I felt good the past few starts and finally, the results were there.”

Russell Dorsey is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @Russ_Dorsey1.