Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil propel Mets to twin bill split

Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil propel Mets to a doubleheader split vs. the Pirates Saturday night against the Pirates.

What’s up with this split?

After sticking lately to a script in which they flatlined in the nightcap of doubleheaders after winning the first game, the Mets went reverse imagery on Saturday at Citi Field. It wasn’t necessarily pretty, but they’ll take the win and the split.

Choose what you will from the nightcap, whether it was Jeff McNeil’s continued surge, Pete Alonso’s raw power, Tylor Megill’s respectability or Edwin Diaz’s electricity, but the Mets secured a 4-2 victory over the Pirates to avoid the embarrassment of getting swept by the NL Central’s cellar dweller.

In Game 1, Marcus Stroman and Trevor May surrendered homers that helped sink the Mets in a 6-2 loss.

Megill allowed one earned run on four hits and three walks with seven strikeouts over 3 ²/₃ innings in the nightcap. The right-handed rookie ran his strikeout total to 26 — the highest total by a pitcher in franchise history over his first four games.

Pete Alonso point to the dugout after blasting a home in the third inning of the Mets’ 4-2 victory over the Pirates in Game 2 of a doubleheader.
Bill Kostroun

Alonso smoked a solo homer in the third inning at 112.8 mph for the Mets’ loudest hit of the night. The blast gave Alonso six homers over his past 13 games as he prepares for the Home Run Derby on Monday in Denver.

McNeil delivered a two-run double in the first inning and Diaz bookended the win by striking out the side in the seventh for his 19th save in 20 chances.

Stroman was close to All-Star material for most of the first half of this season, but his past three starts haven’t been all that sharp.

There was a shortened start against the Phillies, a slog at Yankee Stadium last weekend and Saturday’s dud in Game 1, a performance that fell into that category, based on the opponent and the manner in which it unfolded.

In this case it was the opposing pitcher, Tyler Anderson, who smacked a go-ahead homer off Stroman.

The Pirates entered as the lowest-scoring team in the major leagues, but thrived against Stroman and the bullpen. Over his past three starts, Stroman has pitched to a 5.54 ERA with 16 hits allowed in 13 innings. This after he had pitched to a 2.32 ERA in his first 15 starts of the season.

“I think it’s a little random, a little workload, I was dealing with that hip and my body felt a little off the last three or four starts,” said Stroman, who departed a June 22 start against the Braves after one inning because of left-hip soreness. “I think these next six days, seven days that I will have off, will be incredible for my body as far as recovery.”

Stroman, who opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19 concerns, noted he has logged close to 100 innings before the All-Star break this year.

“I’m extremely proud of myself, I am extremely proud of everyone that is around me that helped,” Stroman said.

Stroman was perfect for three innings, but got knocked around in the fourth and fifth. Overall, he allowed three earned runs on five hits with five strikeouts and departed after 68 pitches. It marked just the fourth time in 18 starts this season that Stroman has allowed as many as three earned runs.

Manager Luis Rojas said he was pleased with Stroman’s pitches and would have stayed with him longer if not for the fact it was a seven-inning game. He used McNeil to pinch hit for Stroman leading off the fifth.

“A regular game he probably gives us seven [innings] the way he was throwing the ball,” Rojas said, noting the shortened doubleheader games.

May, who had pitched 10 straight scoreless innings, entered for the sixth and surrendered a two-run homer to Bryan Reynolds that extended the Pirates’ lead to 5-2. May walked the inning’s leadoff hitter, Ke’Bryan Hayes, before Reynolds cleared the fence in right-center. The homer was the first allowed by May since June 14.

In the fourth, John Nogowski stroked a two-run double that gave the Pirates a 2-1 lead. Adam Frazier singled leading off the inning to give the Pirates their first baserunner and Reynolds’ one-out single put runners on the corners before Nogowski delivered.

Anderson, the Pirates starting pitcher, smashed a two-out homer in the fifth that put the Mets in a 3-2 hole. The blast, which came on a 1-1 cutter from Stroman, was the second of Anderson’s career.

Kevin Pillar’s two-out RBI single against Anderson in the first gave the Mets a 1-0 lead after Nimmo and Dominic Smith had singled in the inning. Jonathan Villar’s third homer in two games, a solo blast in the fourth, tied it 2-2. On Friday, Villar had become the 10th player in franchise history to homer from both sides of the plate in the same game.

Brandon Nimmo provided the Mets a huge lift in the first inning by reaching over the center field fence to steal a homer from Reynolds. It was the latest piece of strong defensive work from Nimmo, who began the day plus two as a center fielder in outs above average, according to Statcast.

“I’m so proud of Brandon,” Rojas said. “He’s a real good outfielder right now.”

This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Mike Puma

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