No Losses Here

Pete Alonso jerseys are selling fast, and do you know how I know? They wouldn’t sell one to me.

I wanted a road grey jersey, inscribed with ALONSO 20, size small. A request that seems simple enough at Citi Field, a building designed to sell Mets gear to fans like me. I went to the team store: nothing. I tried the dugout shop on the field level: nothing. Outside the dugout shop is the jersey customization station, which I figured had to be able to help me if no one else could.

I punched in my order: Pete Alonso, number 20, adult small road grey. I took my order ticket and handed it to the cashier.

“Can’t do it,” she said. “We’re out of N’s.”

Yes, really: “We’re out of N’s.” The N’s were going like hotcakes, it seemed, and unless people were splurging on Nimmo or Nido, it seemed like those N’s had all been used up on Alonso jerseys. The man behind me in line asked the same question, and got the same answer: “Can’t do Alonso. We’re out of N’s.”

It wasn’t hard to understand, of course, why Alonso jerseys might be hot right now. Pete is hitting the cover off the ball, knocking the stuffing out of out of grapefruits, mixing metaphors and not caring a whit. He’s dominating the exit velocity leaderboards and the rookie rankings, and is slowly but surely — well, not particularly slowly, but definitely surely — winning the hearts of Mets fans. And meanwhile, he’s driving in runs that are helping us win games, or at least, are turning games that much more fun.

When Pete came up in the sixth, for instance, we found ourselves in something of a rut. Zack Wheeler was done, and hadn’t exactly been honorably discharged; Tim Peterson had given up two runs of his own in the top of the inning. And Max Scherzer was doing what he always does, which is to say mowing down our lineup without so much as a modicum of attention, goddamnit, for how it makes us feel.

So Alonso decided to do something about it. He took Scherzer down the third base line at 112.6 miles per hour, if I remember correctly, and suddenly the Mets offense felt alive. Cano flied out, and after Conforto was hit by a pitch, Ramos lined sharply to right, but Scherzer had been knocked back a notch. You could feel it all over the park.

The next time Alonso came up, we — in the person of Luis Avilan — had given up three more runs, but things had gone from decrepit to promising. A Guillorme single; a Rosario single; a Brandon Nimmo double, thank heavens (sorry, Brandon); a Jeff McNeil single. These Mets, these godforsaken, lovable Mets…they can really hit when they get around to it, but they didn’t get around to it until Pete Alonso got them going. The score was 12-3.

So what did Pete do? He got us going again. Facing a 3-1 count against a Nationals bullpen that, frankly, is quite bad, he did what he does. He crushed. A three run homer, a crowd alive, an 11-run deficit suddenly cut to nine, after Alonso’s double, and now cut to six.

In the end, even Pete couldn’t save us. He did his part; he walked in the ninth inning, and scored on a Conforto line drive home run, but that was all we could muster, and we went down 12-9 to lose our first series of the year. But it barely felt like a loss by the end. And Pete Alonso, thank you for that.

With all the positives that came after Alonso’s sixth-inning double, it couldn’t be a loss. There was a strong inning from Gsellman, and a stronger one from Lugo, both of whom will be essential to this team going forward. There was Brandon Nimmo, who finally seemed to bust out of an eight-game slump when he knocked a double down the right field line in the seventh, and then drove a deep lineout to right-center in the eighth. There was the return of Travis d’Arnaud, who just barely missed a three-run homer in the ninth, one batter before Conforto made up for it. Jeff McNeil was two for three. Conforto had a double and a homer. J.D. Davis had another hit. And Pete Alonso is a superstar.

We lost, but it didn’t feel like it. Handed an 11-run lead, the Nationals flailed and careened into dangerous territory. The Nationals, I can’t help but feel, demonstrated today that they can’t hang with us. We walked them 12 times today, for goodness’ sake, and even with all that they were a few lucky bounces away from giving back the game. “Take the L,” the Nationals said, up twelve to one, and we responded, “we’ll see your 11 run lead with your bullpen, and raise you Pete Alonso and the lineup around him.” And it’s not hard to tell who wins that bet.

No, there were no N’s at Citi Field this Sunday afternoon. And despite the loss that was, once Pete Alonso got done with the Nationals pitching staff, there was no L to be taken either.

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