There was a time when Yoenis Cespedes was the only hitter the Mets wanted at the plate with runners on base. We live in a time when Pete Alonso holds the same place in the fan base’s heart.
But in 2020, there isn’t much time for the team’s biggest sluggers to find their swings.
With multiple opportunities to help stop the Mets’ three-game slide, Alonso and Cespedes combined for one hit and four strikeouts, while being responsible for 11 of the 20 men left on base by the Mets in their 7-1 loss to the Braves on Saturday night at Truist Park.
Alonso went 1-for-5 with two strikeouts, and stranded six runners, as his batting average dropped to .200. The reigning N.L. Rookie of the Year now has just one hit in his past 11 at-bats and hasn’t homered in the past five games, leaving the all-time rookie home run record holder (53) stuck on one home run for the season. Last year, Alonso had five home runs in his first 10 games.
“He wants to do so much out there, and you know how much he cares,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “He’s been working really hard and he actually really looked good earlier in practice and everything, a little more calm, not a lot of moving parts, [then] not the same in the game. … He got out of the rhythm he had.”
After starter Michael Wacha was tagged for five runs in the first two innings, the Mets quickly found an opportunity to chip away in the third, following back-to-back one-out walks by Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil. Then, Alonso hit into an inning-ending double play.
Alonso came to the plate again in the fifth with Nimmo and McNeil getting aboard, but came up short again, chasing a 3-2 pitch from Luke Jackson out of the zone for the first out. Following a seventh-inning strikeout, Alonso slammed his bat in the dugout multiple times.
“It’s definitely something you need to regroup right away,” Rojas said of Alonso. “He’s got to get ready mentally and physically for [Sunday].”
Though Alonso will be given the opportunity to work through his struggles, Cespedes no longer has the luxury of a long leash given the appealing replacement options of J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith.
Outside of a pair of home runs — including the game-winner on Opening Day — one double and a pair of singles, the 34-year-old, injury-plagued DH has looked like someone who hasn’t played in two years.
Following Saturday’s 0-for-4 effort with two strikeouts — leaving five men on base — Cespedes now holds a team-worst .161 batting average while hitting 1-for-13 on the road.
With the Mets down 5-0 in the fourth inning, Michael Conforto and Robinson Cano opened the frame with back-to-back singles. Next came Cespedes, who struck out on three pitches. Following a Cano sacrifice fly in the fifth, Cespedes ended a potential rally by grounding out with two Mets on base.
One week earlier, Cespedes said, “I will return to being that player from back then.”
Now, it’s unclear how much longer the former All-Star — in the final year of his contract — will have that chance.