Mets could face failing angels without Pete Alonso

SAN DIEGO — The Mets led the majors in an assortment of categories through Wednesday, including runs scored (299), hits (525), on-base percentage (.334) and batting average (.263 ).

Much to their dismay, they also led the majors in a far more painful category: hit batsmen. And as manager Buck Showalter grimly assessed, before their San Diego streak ended in a 13-2 loss at the Padres on Wednesday, “We extended our lead.”

The Mets, who have the best record in the National League despite losing two of three to the Padres, will host Thursday’s single day in a 10-game, 11-day run through Southern California. The main reason is a day of healing for first baseman Pete Alonso (bruised right hand) and outfielder Starling Marte (aching left quad), who hope to avoid the injured list but remain day to day ahead of a series of weekend against the Los Angeles Angels spiral.

In Alonso’s case, additional time off could be warranted. The National League leader in games, home runs and RBI said ahead of Wednesday’s game that he hoped to avoid a repeat of the mistakes he made in the past trying to play with such an injury. Even if Alonso is absent, this weekend is preparing an ongoing study on the vagaries of baseball. The Mets continue to lose key players — Alonso, Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer — but are racking up wins. The Angels, despite the presence of two of the most sensational players in the game, Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout, are losing in record proportions.

On Tuesday, with the Angels buried under a 12-game losing streak at the time, the club fired manager Joe Maddon. Under Phil Nevin, the team’s interim manager, the Angels quickly lost a 13th straight game, setting a franchise mark for the longest single-season losing streak. Trout left the game with a groin injury.

Trout, which is considered day-to-day, did not participate in Wednesdays 1-0 loss in Boston, which pushed its record losing streak to 14 games.

The contrast between the franchises is stark, with the Mets flexing their resilience and proving the value of an expensive roster built on star power but also depth.

“I think you have to give a lot of credit not only to the team, but also to Billy Eppler, in the way he built the roster,” Mets outfielder Mark Canha said of the first-year general manager. of the club, who was one of many executives who took turns trying to shore up the Angels. “We feel incredibly deep and we can count on any of our guys to step in at any time and do a great job.”

Eppler, who interviewed Showalter for the Angels manager job in 2019, struggled for five seasons in Anaheim despite plenty of big-name talent. In his first winter at Queens, he immediately tried to correct a weakness in his new team, landing Canha and Eduardo Escobar, a pair of versatile players who can hit and play in multiple positions. The Mets signed those two, Marte and Scherzer in a November flurry before the Major League Baseball lockout.

In March, Eppler added more depth, trading for pitcher Chris Bassitt, a 2021 All-Star with Oakland. That deal seemed almost superfluous at the time, with Scherzer and deGrom at the top of the team’s rotation, but now it seems prophetic, as the Mets have had at least one healthy ace all season.

Those moves — a luxury of an almost unlimited payroll thanks to team owner Steven A. Cohen — helped fill the injury void and kept the Mets from collapsing.

A few games against the failing Angels could help wash away the bad taste left by the Padres series for the Mets, who were greatly relieved on Wednesday when imaging tests revealed no breaks or fractures for Alonso. He had left Tuesday’s game in the second inning when a 96-mph Yu Darvish pellet entered the meaty area above his little finger on a controlled swing.

Alonso, whose absence on Wednesday ended a streak of 151 consecutive games played, has been hit by a pitch seven times this season. The Mets overall have been hit 40 times, six more than the Baltimore Orioles and seven more than the Seattle Mariners. No other team in the majors has even had 30 batters hit this season.

“There’s no message going around the league to hit the Mets,” said Joe Musgrove, a San Diego starter who hasn’t faced them this week. “You have to understand that as pitchers, our job is to control the area on both sides of home plate. With the quality of this range you have to throw inside. If you’re afraid I’ll hit someone, or get pissed off, or get kicked out, it won’t work.

But with the frequency with which Alonso has been hit, injury has started to seem inevitable.

Canha said he recently told Jeremy Barnes, the team’s assistant hitting coach, that every time Alonso hits “and I see a ball go high, I wince because I scared for him, because I know they’re trying to get in”. his kitchen. But it’s just scary because of the number of times he’s not only been hit, but also in the head.

Alonso was one of three Mets hitters Darvish touched.

“I’ve never seen so many people get hit in the foot area with curveballs,” Showalter said. “I’m not just talking about grazing. I’m talking about being smoked. I’m sure someone can find a reason. But, unfortunately, we had a lot too.

Based on his own experience – he said he broke his left hand three times – Alonso intends to be patient. That bruise, he said, is reminiscent of the sprained right hand he tried to play last year before finally landing on the injured list in May. He said that he was a “shell” of himself then and that he didn’t want to come to this anymore.

“We have a chance to do something special, and I want to do my best,” Alonso said. “And if I go out there not feeling good, I won’t do this team justice because these guys work hard and I don’t want to be a weak link in the chain.”

So the Mets will be on the ice – in more ways than one – for Thursday’s day off. And while Alonso and Marte work on recovery and right-hander Tylor Megill prepares to come off the injured list and start Friday night’s game, Showalter said he will likely spend Thursday visiting members of the department Mets scouting as they hold meetings on the West Coast. in preparation for the amateur draft next month. The Mets own five of the top 100 picks, and the Eppler administration will have a chance to set a long-term course.

Showalter said he told himself he would “go over there and put my head in there” and see what happened.

“Just to have goldfish with them. Goldfish and peanuts, and go home,” he joked: the relaxing thoughts of a manager whose team continues to win regardless.

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