QUEENS — The Mets found the formula necessary to snag a few wins while playing out the remainder of their 2023 schedule on Monday night: Let Pete Alonso mash and Kodai Senga deal.
Alonso went 3-for-4 with two home runs and a career-best-tying six RBI while Senga pitched six strong innings in his first-ever MLB start in front of his children in a rain-elongated 7-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Monday night at Citi Field.
“I just felt really good all day and felt extremely disciplined,” Alonso said. “I thought I did a great job executing… I just wanted to take good swings at pitches in my zone.”
Coming out for the start of the seventh inning, Senga was forced to wait for the grounds crew to fix up the mound amid the ceaseless downpour. But after taking a few warmup pitches and still dissatisfied with the conditions, Senga walked off the mound with his Mets teammates not too far behind as the umpires delayed the game. After a delay of 2:09, the game resumed.
“He wasn’t going to pitch,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said, citing the desire from the Cubs to keep playing as they’re in the thick of a playoff race. “We got through it, but I don’t think he felt comfortable on it, and that was good enough for me.”
Senga bounced back well from an Aug. 2 loss against the Kansas City Royals when he allowed three runs on a season-high 11 hits in 5.2 innings of work. The Cubs, who entered Monday night as one of the hottest offensive teams in the majors, were befuddled for most of the night by the Japanese righty, as they could only muster two runs on seven hits while striking out six times.
“I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of [my kids],” Senga said as his son and daughter saw him pitch live for the first time since last season when he pitched in Japan. “But once I got up on the mound, it was me and the hitter like always. So it was nothing different.”
With Senga and Alonso’s big nights came an end to the Mets’ (51-61) six-game losing streak and their first victory since the trade deadline when they dealt away David Robertson, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Mark Canha, Tommy Pham, and Dominic Leone over a five-day span.
“Hopefully we carry this into tomorrow and we play good team baseball throughout the rest of the year,” Alonso said. “That’s all you can do… wherever we’re at at the end of the year, then that’s where we’ll be.”
Alonso supplied the Mets with their rare lead and flex of offensive prowess in the first inning, launching a three-run home run that carried just over the left-field fence. His 32nd round-tripper of the season supplied as many runs in one inning as the most the Mets had scored in any of their previous five games.
The 42-degree launch angle was tied for the second-highest on a home run in Alonso’s career, according to MLB’s Sarah Langs.
Chicago pulled one back in the top of the third with a Cody Bellinger RBI single, but in the bottom of the frame, Alonso did it again, lining his second home run of the night, a two-run shot to put the Mets up 5-1.
His fourth multi-home-run game of the season was also the 18th of his career, moving him into third place in Mets franchise history behind only Darryl Strawberry (22) and David Wright (21).
Bellinger picked up his second RBI of the night for the Cubs with another run-scoring single, but heavy rains arriving mid-game helped the Mets tack on a few more.
They loaded the bases with no outs following a pair of infield hits that could not be handled by shortstop Dansby Swanson first before Smyly couldn’t wrangle in a slow roller off the bat of Rafael Ortega. Smyly then proceeded to walk Jonathan Arauz to bring in a run. Brandon Nimmo’s double play brought in a seventh Mets run to give them a five-run lead.
Following the lengthy delay, Danny Mendick kept the Mets rolling with a three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh off erratic Cubs reliever Daniel Palencia, who walked a pair and nearly hit a trio of Mets to set the table. It was his first home run since June 15, 2022, when he was a member of the Chicago White Sox.
Against Tucker Barnhart — usually a catcher called in to pitch the last meaningless defensive inning for the Cubs — the Mets tacked on one more through an Alonso single, which gave him six RBI on the night.
“Sometimes I’d rather face the closer than the position player,” Alonso joked. “The approach doesn’t change. It’s just getting a pitch in my area, putting a good swing on it, and hit it between the lines.”