BRONX — All New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso needed to break out of his slump was a night in the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium.
The slugger socked two home runs and drove in five against Domingo German as his side defeated the Yankees (53-48) in the two-game Subway Series opener on Tuesday night 9-3.
Alonso had been entrenched in the largest slump of his career, batting just .190 dating back to May 1 while being held without a home run in his previous 12 games. His five RBI, coming on a three-run third-inning shot and a lead-off solo fly in the sixth, matched his output over his previous 13 games.
“Every day is a new day and I’m just really happy that today was an excellent day,” Alonso said. “It doesn’t matter if we’re playing the Yankees or Red Sox or Nationals because right now we’re at a point of the season where all wins matter.”
The big night, which also featured three RBI from Jeff McNeil, provided plenty of support for starting pitcher Justin Verlander, who continues his ascension in Mets colors with a second-consecutive gem.
Working around four walks while surrendering just two hits in six scoreless innings with six strikeouts, Verlander has now allowed just a single run on five hits with 13 strikeouts over his last two starts (14 innings pitched) to lower his season ERA to 3.24.
“I found my groove,” Verlander said. “I’m pitching better. I talked a lot about being more deceptive early on and adjustments I needed to make to find that and I feel like there’s about a million adjustments so I don’t know if I can narrow it down to one or two, but just nice to see better reactions on pitches from hitters. Good reactions on my behalf.”
Alonso put the Mets (47-53) ahead in the first inning with a two-out single that blooped just in front of Yankees center fielder Harrison Bader — a bit of good luck for the struggling slugger who entered Tuesday night batting .171 with no home runs and two RBI in his previous 12 games.
After striking out five times in their next six turns at bat, the Mets used another bloop to get to German in the third. Francisco Lindor dinked a double just beyond the reach of a sliding Billy McKinney before stealing third on a full-count walk to McNeil.
Alonso finally provided the blast that he so desperately needed — and that the Mets could’ve used as well — when on an 0-2 count, he lasered his 27th home run of the season that snuck just over the left-field wall.
Having just two RBI in his previous 12 games, the round-tripper gave Alonso four RBI in three innings on Tuesday night.
“There’s a lot of work not just physically but mentally that was put in to get to this point,” Alonso said. “All the hours and dedication that you don’t see behind the scenes — I’m just really happy that I can finally see the fruits of my labor.”
He tacked on one more in the sixth with his second home run of the night, a shot to dead center to provide the confirming shot that his slump is over. It was his 16th career multi-home-run game, already tying him for fifth in franchise history with Dave Kingman and Lucas Duda.
Vogelbach followed Alonso with his seventh home run of the season — a no-doubter into the left to provide the second leg of the Mets’ fifth instance of back-to-back long balls in 2023.
McNeil added a seventh in the seventh off reliever Nick Ramirez with a two-out single that scored Lindor, who reached on an infield hit and was awarded second base on an Anthony Volpe throwing error that rolled into the Yankees dugout.
The Mets bullpen provided its seemingly-usual dose of anxiety for manager Buck Showalter following Verlander’s hook. Brooks Raley and Dominic Leone combined to allow a pair of runs in the seventh before Grant Hartwig loaded the bases with one out in the eighth.
It forced David Robertson to extinguish the fire to start his five-out finisher. He coaxed a run-scoring fielder’s choice from Ben Rortvedt before getting Jake Bauers to ground into the eighth-inning-ender.
McNeil got two of those runs back with a one-out double in the top of the ninth, scoring Brandon Nimmo and Lindor.
“We just want to win as many ballgames as we can,” Alonso began. “Because we’re at that point where every series is a big series and we need to take as many wins as possible.”