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Blast From the Past (Rays at Mets; 09.22.20)

Arturo Holmes/ALOST

 

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

 

NEW YORK — Mets first baseman Pete Alonso is cognizant of all the advanced metrics showing that many of his swings this season are not far off from those that littered his history-making campaign just one year ago. The numbers that count at the end of the day, however, state that Alonso’s sophomore season has been one to forget, but he did have one last performance tonight more befitting of one who became one of the most feared hitters in baseball going into 2020.

Alonso cracked a solo home run as part of a three-RBI night in the Mets’ 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday evening in the penultimate home game of the season for New York. Seth Lugo allowed just four hits and two runs — one earned — in 6.1 innings while striking out seven batters as he continues to make a case for a permanent role in the Mets’ starting rotation.

In the next-to-last home game of 2019, Alonso smacked his 53rd home run, setting the Major League record for most home runs hit in a rookie season. Going into tonight, Alonso was mired in a 2-for-34 slump, part of a stretch that has seen his average barely hover above the Mendoza Line for most of the season.

Tonight, in what could have been another rough night at the plate with All-Star pitcher Blake Snell on the mound, Alonso was locked in from his first at-bat. With the game tied at 1-1 in the fourth, Alonso, after walking in his first at-bat, drove a Snell pitch the other way and over the right-centerfield wall for his 13th homer of the season to give the Mets a 2-1 advantage. Two innings later, Alonso singled home Dominic Smith from third with two outs to double New York’s margin.

In a year where a power hitter like Alonso would have normally thrived, especially given that three of his teammates — Smith, Jeff McNeill, and Michael Conforto — rank in the top ten in batting average in the National League this season, the Polar Bear’s bat went into hibernation.

Just seeing the ball not be hit hard and not go squarely into the gloves of defenders is something he does not take for granted in this trying year.

Alonso’s bat was enough support for Lugo, who continues to put his best foot forward in securing a spot in the starting rotation for 2021. Lugo rarely found himself in serious trouble in any of his first six innings, only allowing one batter to get past second base in that span — a Willy Adames solo home run in the second for the game’s first score.

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