Pete Alonso is not far off, but it is the wrong month to praise quality at-bats that don’t come with results.
The Mets’ best player and leader, whose bat has been the club’s most consistent and powerful all season, is waiting for his luck to turn after another hitless night Monday in the Mets’ 7-0 loss to the Cardinals at Citi Field.
His 0-for-3-with-a-walk effort made the big first baseman 0-for-16 with three walks in his past four games, a small sample size but one that is coming at a critical time for the Mets. And his bat needs to be there because, as the ninth inning illuminated, his defense is not his calling card.
Alonso’s biggest at-bat came in the eighth, when he stepped to the plate against righty Alex Reyes with runners on the corners and, at that point, represented the tying run. While the rain poured and lightning lit up the sky, Alonso could not provide the thunder.
The second pitch from the Cardinals fireballer sent Alonso sprawling, inches from his head, and Alonso stayed down for several moments collecting himself and ensuring his head was still in place.
Two pitches later, Reyes — who can touch triple digits — dropped in an 86 mph slider that Alonso swung through, beginning a long walk back to the Mets dugout. Javier Baez and Jeff McNeil then made the same walk on a night the Mets went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
Luis Rojas pointed out Reyes’ nasty stuff and St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright’s guile; pointed out that Alonso still has struck the ball hard during this funk.
“Pete is not pressing. Pete has a good attitude toward struggles,” said Rojas, who did say Alonso was “upset” and throwing his helmet in the dugout after the strikeout.
Alonso tries to preach process over results, but it’s possible he took his poor results to the field with him.
His night got worse in the last inning, when he was part of a botched rundown. With runners on first and second, Yadier Molina singled to left, and Jonathan Villar cut off the throw to the plate to try to tag Nolan Arenado, who slid safely into third. Villar threw across the diamond to Alonso because Molina had lingered too far off first. Molina took off for second and ran on the grass, potentially in the throwing lane — and Alonso never threw, instead giving a glance at Arenado at third.
The floodgates could not be closed in a four-run inning that put the game out of reach.
The Mets rely upon Alonso’s bat to make up for his glove, and generally it does. He’s in the midst of a 32-home run season. But it was another frustrating effort for the slumping Alonso, who had nearly put the Mets ahead in the Sept. 11 matchup with the Yankees, but his eighth-inning drive to center was caught on the warning track.