First baseman passes Piazza, Wright to set new single-season club record for RBIs
OAKLAND — When Max Scherzer signed a three-year, $130 million deal to join the Mets last December, it brought him to an organization that he believed had the requisite talent to do something special.
It also meant he would no longer have to face former NL East rival Pete Alonso, for better or for worse.
“I enjoyed pitching to Pete,” Scherzer said. “As good as he’s been this year, I enjoy facing the best. Part of me actually wants to face him.”
That might just be the ultimate compliment from one of the most dominant pitchers in the game, fresh off tossing six innings of one-run ball in the Mets’ 13-4 blowout victory over the A’s at the Coliseum on Sunday, helping New York maintain its 1 1/2-game lead over Atlanta in the NL East. And it proved especially true as Alonso’s big day at the plate powered the Mets to a series win in Oakland — and carved out another piece of Mets history in the process.
Alonso went 4-for-5 and drove in five runs to break the Mets’ single-season RBI record, passing the previous mark of 124 set by Hall of Famer Mike Piazza in 1999 and tied by David Wright in 2008.
“It’s a huge honor,” Alonso said. “I wouldn’t be able to be in this position without my teammates. All year, they’ve been putting together unbelievable at-bats. I feel blessed and honored to have the record, but without them, I wouldn’t be able to get it done.”
Alonso found himself one RBI short of tying the franchise record after hitting a two-run bomb to left field in Saturday’s 10-4 loss in Oakland. He then went hitless in his final three at-bats, leaving the feat for another day.
As it turns out, Alonso didn’t have to wait too long to make history. The 27-year-old first baseman collected RBIs No. 124 and 125 the same way he had collected his previous two: on one swing.
With Francisco Lindor on second and two outs in the top of the fourth, Alonso stepped in against A’s right-hander Norge Ruiz, who had just entered the game in relief of lefty JP Sears. The Mets’ first baseman worked a 2-2 count, then unleashed on a slider from Ruiz, blasting a two-run homer to deep left-center field to collect the record-setting RBIs.
Give Alonso some extra points for style, too. Oakland’s outfielders barely moved when Alonso’s 39th home run of the season left the bat, traveling a Statcast-projected 451 feet, his longest of the year.
“He’s a collision hitter,” manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s a hitter that, when he collides with the ball, it’s fun to figure out where it’s going to land.”
Alonso later added three more RBIs to his season tally for good measure, lining a bases-loaded double off the right-field wall in the top of the eighth.
Though RBIs are often seen more as a measure of team success rather than individual, Alonso nonetheless places a lot of value on the statistic.
“They mean a lot because it’s a run-scoring competition,” Alonso said. “Getting hits is great, and obviously it’s great for personal stats, but I think driving guys in is important because the whole point of the game is to score more runs than the other team. That’s why we play, is to see who can score the most runs.”
Alonso’s 128 RBIs lead the National League by a considerable margin, as the Cardinals’ Paul Goldschmidt currently ranks second with 112. He is now tied with Aaron Judge for the most in the Majors.
Alonso could become the second player in franchise history to finish the season leading the NL in RBIs. The only Met who has accomplished that feat is two-time All-Star infielder Howard Johnson, who recorded 117 RBIs in 1991.
Given the value Alonso places on RBIs, he enjoys the prospect of leading the Majors in that category. But there are more urgent matters at hand.
The Mets’ magic number to clinch the NL East is down to 8 — with as many games remaining in the regular season. With the Mets and Braves set for one final head-to-head series in Atlanta next weekend, New York’s push for the crown could end there.
So even though Alonso would love to walk away from the 2022 campaign with the most RBIs in the Majors, he has his eyes set on a bigger prize.
“It’s an awesome possibility,” Alonso said. “But again, I’m just trying to do the best I can every single day [to]try and win a division here.”