Alonso's adjustments fuel 14th multi-HR game

June 26th, 2022

MIAMI -- A booming “M-V-P” chant broke out in the top of the eighth inning at loanDepot park on Saturday. But it wasn’t aimed at any of the Marlins' players. It was for , who had just notched his second home run of the game.

Alonso crossed home plate to those chants as the game-winning run in New York’s 5-3 win in Miami, securing the series win after a victory on Friday night led by .

It wasn’t surprising to Marlins manager Don Mattingly that Alonso went yard so early, nor that Lindor has four hits against Miami in the past two days.

“That's why they're where they're at right now,” Mattingly said. “Lindor's swinging the bat good, he's driving in runs -- really their big boys have hurt us these [past] two games. Lindor had a big game yesterday. Pete has a big game today; he's dangerous. We're not the only team he's driving in runs against. He's got to be close to 70 [RBIs], right? He's hurting a lot of people.”

Mattingly is right. Alonso handily leads the Majors in RBIs (68), and after Saturday’s 2-for-4, two-homer affair, he is two RBIs shy of 70 in just 72 games. With his current pace, Alonso is set to break the Mets’ record for most RBIs in the first half (74, set by David Wright in 2006). He’s already become the third player in team history to record 60-plus RBIs before the All-Star break in multiple seasons, joining Carlos Beltrán (‘06, ‘08) and Wright (‘06, ‘08 and ‘10).

Alonso entered Saturday 0-for-12 in his career vs. Marlins starter Trevor Rogers, including a pair of strikeouts from merely five days prior. But what Alonso had trouble doing in years prior, he had no problem with on Saturday: He knew Rogers’ release point and was able to see the ball better than he previously had vs. the southpaw.

The first baseman put that knowledge to use in the second, roping an opposite-field homer 346 feet to right field. The long ball marked the shortest homer of his career, eclipsing the 353-foot knock he hit on Aug. 16, 2019, also at loanDepot park. As short as it was, Alonso knew it was going out as soon as the ball left his bat.

“It was really nice to be able to see the ball well off a guy that’s got really good stuff,” Alonso said. “[That homer] felt good, and I saw it start to carry and I saw it go [out].”

Between his two homers were two outs, the most notable a fifth-inning popout with the bases loaded and one out; as Alonso returned to the dugout, he snapped his bat over his knee, an impressive show of his strength and his drive to succeed.

“He doesn’t let one at-bat ruin his whole game,” manager Buck Showalter said. “He was very frustrated with the bases-loaded situation, but he just doesn’t dwell on the past successes and failures, and he keeps grinding. I think that’s what’s impressive, that’s a common denominator of guys who drive in runs and do the things that he does.”

One of the things that Alonso does, and does well, is hit against his NL East rivals. After Saturday, Alonso has 19 home runs against the Marlins, tied for the most he has against any team (he also has 19 against the Nationals).

It helps that Alonso is seeing so much of the Marlins in such a short span. Saturday’s contest was the sixth of 11 the Mets play against the Fish in just over three weeks. Having pitchers’ arsenals and release points fresh in his mind on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis is crucial for Alonso, who is a prototypical student of the game.

Alonso faced Jimmy Yacabonis on Friday night and struck out after he struggled to find the righty’s release point. So when he stepped into the box to lead off the eighth inning on Saturday with Yacabonis on the bump, Alonso was ready. He worked a 3-2 count, then sent a 94.3 mph sinker screaming 433 feet to right-center field.

“I took a lesson from last night’s at-bat,” Alonso said. “I saw the window where the ball was coming out. He’s got really good stuff, and it’s just really fortunate to be able to find his release point and get a ball in the zone.”

Oh, and a little fun fact before you go: the 87-foot difference between the distance of Alonso’s two homers is tied with the Rockies’ C.J. Cron for the second largest gap between home run distance in a multi-homer game this year (of which there have been over 130).