Pete Alonso
ESNY Graphic

Pete Alonso may be a rookie, but he has a knack for the big spot. The New York Mets first baseman answered the call on Tuesday night.

Although a series against the San Diego Padres in May shouldn’t be a pivotal moment in the season, it certainly felt like it was for the New York Mets. Rookie Pete Alonso is firmly in the spotlight this season and after failing to deliver on Monday, he made up for it on Tuesday.

Alonso’s time in the spotlight wasn’t all his doing. Fellow rookie Chris Paddack is tearing up the competition in his first season with the San Diego Padres. Perhaps slighted by Alonso’s Rookie of the Month honors in April, Paddack said he was “coming for” the Mets first baseman.

“He’s a great player, no doubt,” Paddack told Dennis Lin of The Athletic. “Does he deserve (the Rookie of the Month honor)? Absolutely. But I’m coming for him. We’ll see Monday who the top dog is. That’s something I’m looking forward to, for sure. And I’m not saying that in a cocky way. I’m saying that because I know what I want, just like I’m sure he knows what he wants. It’ll be a fun little matchup.

“Do I wish it was me? Yeah. But the way I look at it is, do you want to be Rookie of the Month or Rookie of the Year? We’ll see, man. We’ve got a long season and I’m looking forward to Monday, competing against him.”

Credit to Paddack because he backed up his brash pregame talk. He went 7.2 innings while striking out 11—including two punch outs for Alonso. The right-handed slugger was not happy after the game.

“He said he wanted me and he pitched really well today,” Alonso told reporters after the game. “I know what he said and to me, it doesn’t sit well…and it definitely sucks after this one.”

The rookie was clearly down after the loss and even went as far as to say that Tuesday was a “must win” type of game later on with reporters. It’s probably unwise to start putting the “must win” signifier on games in 2019, but the Mets clearly needed a shot of life.

Losers of four in a row and nine of their last 12, the Mets desperately needed Noah Syndergaard to pick up where he left off after his ridiculous complete game shutout in his previous start.

Unfortunately, Syndergaard could only give six innings while allowing four earned runs. The Mets were down 5-2 at one point, but Alonso’s big bat would come up huge in the later innings.

In the cleanup spot, Alonso went 3-for-5 with four RBI, two runs, and one monstrous two-run home run in the top of the ninth that gave the Mets a 7-5 lead that would eventually hold up as a 7-6 win.

Closer Edwin Diaz gave up a run and loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth, but he was able to induce a groundout to seal the victory. Diaz escaped by the skin of his teeth with the save, but Alonso was the big hero of the night.

He could have taken the opportunity to talk trash to the Padres and Paddack, but Alonso was somewhat subdued in his postgame comments. He kept the focus on securing the win and seems to be wise beyond his years.

“Absolutely nothing,” Alonso responded to Steve Gelbs of SNY when asked if his big ninth-inning moment had anything to do with Paddack. “It was just me having fun and enjoying the moment. … That was just a big moment. Not just for me, but for the team. I was just really excited I could come up for the boys like that.”

His manager, Mickey Callaway, didn’t lose faith in Alonso after his 0-for-4 night on Monday.

“I felt like that was going to happen because he’s a really good hitter,” Callaway told reporters after the game. “He’s going to make some adjustments. He’s going to have some bad nights and he’s going to rebound like he did today. It’s something you expect when he goes up there. We talked about it in spring training. He’s a dangerous hitter. You feel like something dangerous is going to happen and it did tonight.”

Alonso is already a threat anytime he’s in the batter’s box. Although it’s dangerous to label any game in May as a “must win,” Alonso proved that he was ready to answer the call. The season might be young, but Alonso is too and he’s not letting that stop him from making some noise this year.

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.