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The long (Pete Alonso) and the short (Walker Buehler) of a Dodgers loss to the Mets

Alonso hit two of New York’s four home runs

New York Mets v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

The Home Run Derby isn’t for another six weeks at Dodger Stadium, but the winner of the last two derbies, Pete Alonso, got a head start on a three-peat with two home runs in the Mets 9-4 win over the Dodgers on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium.

Alonso hit a two-run shot off Walker Buehler in the third inning and added a three-run shot off Brusdar Graterol in the seventh. Alonso, who also homered Friday night, has seven home runs in 11 career games at Dodger Stadium. His second home run was Alonso’s 16th home run of the season, tying Mookie Betts for the National League lead. Alonso’s 53 RBI are tied with Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez for the major league lead.

The Home Run Derby this season will be at Dodger Stadium on Monday, July 18.

Four home runs allowed by the Dodgers match a season worst, also done on March 14 against the Phillies.

New York already led before Alonso’s second home run, thanks to knocking out Dodgers starter Walker Buehler, who recorded only seven outs in the shortest start of his career, continuing his nearly month-long slump.

After Monday’s start against Pittsburgh, we talked about how Buehler’s fastball went from being one of the most effective in baseball the previous three years to one of the worst this year. Saturday continued the trend, with Buehler only getting one swinging strike in his 30 fastballs thrown.

An ineffective fastball afforded the Mets opportunity to pounce on other pitches. Starling Marte hit a slider for an RBI double, Francisco Lindor homered on a curve, and Alonso delivered the crushing blow, a two-run shot off a Buehler slider that regained New York the lead in the third inning.

Alonso’s home run brought a rare early hook from Dave Roberts, who pulled Buehler after only seven outs. The only other time in Buehler’s 105 career starts in which he failed to complete three innings came on September 8, 2020, in the midst of blister issues for the right-hander.

Buehler in his last five starts has allowed 19 runs in 24⅓ innings. For the most part he was keeping the ball in the park, with only three home runs allowed in his first nine games. But he’s allowed two home runs in each of his last two starts. He only did that once before, from July 13-25, 2018, a two-start stretch bookended by Buehler getting optioned over the All-Star break, which is notable considering Buehler felt four days shy of having a full year of service time by the end of that season, postponing his pending free agency from after 2024 instead of 2023.

This week marks the first time Buehler has allowed four or more runs in consecutive games.

Key play

Mookie Betts continued his hot streak, giving the Dodgers an early lead with a bases-loaded double in the second inning, scoring three runs. With Austin Barnes on second base in the fourth inning, Betts hit a hard line drive down the left field line to begin his at-bat. It fell comfortably foul, but the ball was hit hard enough to get Mets manager Buck Showalter to remove his starting pitcher David Peterson in the middle of the at-bat.

Reliever Colin Holderman entered and threw three straight balls to Betts, but also recovered to throw a sinker and cutter for called strikes to wiggle out of the jam.

Egg on their faces

The loss drifted into embarrassing territory in the top of the ninth inning, when the Dodgers, trailing by five runs, attempted to use position player Zach McKinstry to pitch, because apparently having 14 active pitchers isn’t enough.

However, McKinstry wasn’t allowed to pitch because MLB rules stipulate a position player can only pitch if his team is trailing or ahead by six or more runs, or in extra innings. That rule was agreed to in 2019, to be put in place in 2020. but was relaxed as part of health and safety protocols during the last two seasons. Last year for instance, Justin Turner finished off a 5-0 loss on the mound against Colorado.

After a roughly 10-minute delay, actual pitcher Evan Phillips warmed up and pitched the ninth instead. What a concept.

Saturday particulars

Home runs: Francisco Lindor (9), Pete Alonso 2 (16), Eduardo Escobar (4)

WP — Colin Holderman (3-0): ⅓ IP, 1 strikeout

LP — Walker Buehler (6-2): 2⅓ IP, 5 hits, 5 runs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

Up next

The homestand finishes off Sunday afternoon (1:10 p.m., SportsNet LA), with Julio Urías on the mound for the Dodgers against Mets right-hander Trevor Williams.