ATLANTA — Hit the ball into the water and win a prize: a seat on the bench.
Such was Pete Alonso’s situation Friday, a day after the Mets rookie launched a 454-foot homer over the center-field fence into a pond at SunTrust Park. The blast, at 118.3 mph in exit velocity, was the hardest-hit homer by somebody other than Giancarlo Stanton or Aaron Judge in the five-season history of Statcast.
Dominic Smith started at first base, and went 2-for-4 with a walk in the Mets’ 6-2 victory over the Braves.
“I feel like I’m back to what got me here,” said Smith, who has posted a 1.026 OPS in 16 at-bats this season, mostly off the bench. “I feel like I am back to the prospect that was putting up numbers in the minor leagues.”
Alonso, who has six homers and 17 RBIs, popped out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning.
“As of right now Alonso would never have a day off if we went on just him being hot,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “We have nine days in a row, you strategically try to pick spots to give guys days off.”
Alonso is scheduled back in the starting lineup Saturday against lefty Sean Newcomb.
“We have a lefty pitching [Saturday], which is right, smack, dab in the middle of those nine games, so you are going to see some guys getting a day off,” Callaway said. “This seemed to be the right day for Alonso for that reason. The kid can’t play every single day, although he is doing a great job of it so far.”
Justin Wilson and Seth Lugo provided a present for Callaway: a rare stress-free game from the bullpen, as the two relievers combined for three scoreless innings.
Before the game, in assessing his bullpen’s penchant for creating stomach-churning moments, Callaway said the numbers indicate his relievers haven’t been so bad.
At the heart of Callaway’s argument was the .379 batting average of balls in play (BABIP) opponents had against the Mets bullpen entering Friday. That number was the highest in the major leagues.
Normalcy would fall within the .280-.300 range.
“So they are hitting it where we aren’t,” Callaway said. “The pitching is going to turn around just because of the law of averages. We do need to make some better pitches in spots. We need to make sure we keep the ball out of the heart of the plate, which is probably contributing to those batting average balls in play numbers, but we will and these guys will get clicking.”
Todd Frazier divided playing time between third base and shortstop in a rehab game for Single-A St. Lucie, finishing 0-for-3. The veteran infielder remains close to rejoining the club after straining a left oblique early in spring training.
Published at Sat, 13 Apr 2019 09:47:07 +0000