LOS ANGELES — In about six weeks, Pete Alonso is likely to return to Dodger Stadium for the MLB All-Star Game, where he will be one of several Mets players selected to the National League team. On the eve of those celebrations, Alonso will almost certainly also be taking part in the Home Run Derby, given both his love of the event and his status as a two-time defending champion.
He might as well practice a little while he has the chance. Alonso hit two homes and hit five runs in Saturday night’s 9-4 win over the Dodgers in Chavez Ravine in a dominant performance that tied him with Cleveland’s José Ramírez for the MLB RBI lead at 53.
“I don’t think we’re expecting less,” said Mets starter David Peterson. “He’s been putting on a show since he showed up.”
Alonso batted in the third inning and pulled a two-barrel go-ahead homer over the left fence to knock Dodgers starter Walker Buehler out of the game. In the seventh, he hit a 100-mile fastball from Brusdar Graterol to opposite field for a three-run homer that made a close play decidedly less. It was his third home run in the past two days.
Alonso’s 16 homers are the most in the National League with the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts. He also advanced to 10th on the Mets’ all-time home run list with 122 for his career.
“Oh, that’s sick,” Alonso said of his place in franchise history. “I did not know that. I just want to keep going.”
This was a renaissance season for Alonso, who originally pushed his way into the Mets’ plans with a 53-homer rookie season in 2019 before taking a noticeable step backwards in 2020 and a step forward last summer. Alonso has played in all of New York’s 55 games this year with announced intentions to try to appear in all 162. He could soon challenge the franchise’s record for consecutive games played, which has allowed him to focus his production.
At his current homer pace, Alonso could rank sixth on the Mets all-time homer list by the end of the season. He could also erase the franchise’s RBI record, which Mike Piazza and David Wright currently share at 124. (Alonso is on track for 156.)
It’s a whirlwind of numbers that all say essentially the same thing: Alonso hits the ball often and hard, doing significant damage in the process. Almost exactly a third into the season, Alonso has established himself as the Mets’ most legitimate candidate for the National League MVP award since Wright finished fourth in the 2007 poll.
“It’s every single day,” Peterson said. “It’s not just a home run here and then you don’t hear from him. … He has power in all areas. He’s not just trying to hit home runs. He’s really trying to drive the ball, which works for him. He is an important part of our line-up.”
For the past four seasons, Alonso has trained relentlessly to become a more complete hitter, improving his plate discipline as well as his all-field approach. It showed against Buehler, a former Vanderbilt ace who did “really well — really well” against University of Florida grad Alonso in college.
“I didn’t want that to happen again,” said Alonso, whose home runs more than made up for a throwing error in the second inning.
On Saturday, Alonso’s performance allowed the Mets to win an eventful game in which Buck removed Showalter Peterson in the middle of an at-bat, Francisco Lindor hit a solo homer despite a broken right middle finger, and both teams suffered an 11-minute referee-determined delay whether the Dodgers could field a positional player.
Alonso’s role in all of this was perhaps the least surprising given the game’s setting. In 11 career contests at Dodger Stadium, Alonso has seven home runs. And he’s likely to score a few more at next month’s derby, although he joked after the game that he has yet to receive an invitation. But Alonso will most likely be there, eager to put on another show.
“It’s just one of those historic parks,” Alonso said. “There have been a lot of really big names in baseball that have played here. It’s an honor for me to play here.”