NEW YORK: Pete Alonso homered again, pinch-hitter Jeff McNeil broke a tie with a two-run double and the New York Mets beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 on Sunday in a successful debut for new starter Rich Hill.
Acquired from Tampa Bay in a trade Friday, the 41-year-old Hill gave New York’s injury-thinned rotation precisely the boost the NL East leaders were seeking.
Five relievers followed Hill and held Toronto to one run over four innings. Edwin Daz struck out three in a hitless ninth, fanning cleanup batter Bo Bichette on a full-count slider with a runner on second for his 21st save in 26 chances.
Hill threw only 49 pitches over the first five innings and worked around three leadoff doubles, carrying a four-hit shutout into the sixth before running into trouble the third time through Toronto’s power-packed lineup.
The veteran curveballer, pitching for his 11th team in 17 major league seasons, let the first three batters reach in the sixth and was removed. He walked off the mound with the bases loaded to a warm ovation from the Citi Field crowd of 23,675.
Seth Lugo (3-1) allowed all three inherited runners to score, two on Bichette’s two-run single, as the Blue Jays took a 3-1 lead. But then Lugo limited the damage, and Alonso tied it in the bottom half with a two-run drive off reliever Ryan Borucki and looked into the Mets’ dugout with his palms up as he began rounding the bases.
Alonso hit three homers as New York took two of three in the series. He has five home runs since the All-Star break, when he repeated as Home Run Derby champion.
McNeil gave the Mets a 5-3 lead later in the inning and extended his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games with a shot to the right-center gap off Jacob Barnes (1-2), who was traded by the Mets to the Blue Jays in June.
Toronto trimmed it to 5-4 in the eighth on an RBI single by Teoscar Hernndez off Trevor Mat, who combined with Aaron Loup to escape a bases-loaded, one-out jam. Loup retired Cavan Biggio on a fly ball to end the inning.
Toronto stranded nine runners, finished 14-4 in interleague play this season and fell to 2-14 all-time against the Mets in Queens.
Blue Jays: Pitching coach Pete Walker said rookie RHP Alek Manoah will rejoin the rotation after throwing 60-75 pitches in a simulated game Monday in Florida. Manoah has been nursing a bruise on the right side of his back.
Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (forearm tightness) threw off a mound and felt good, according to manager Luis Rojas. He said deGrom is progressing, but his next step hadn’t been determined yet and no decision will be made on whether to schedule a minor league rehab assignment until the two-time Cy Young Award winner goes full tilt off a mound. … RHP Carlos Carrasco could finally be ready to join the Mets after a strong rehab start Sunday for Triple-A Syracuse. The 34-year-old Carrasco struck out six and walked none in three scoreless innings of two-hit ball against Buffalo. He threw 32 of 38 pitches for strikes following a rough outing last time out. Carrasco has been sidelined all season recovering from a hamstring injury after coming over from Cleveland in the January trade that also brought Francisco Lindor to New York. … McNeil missed his third consecutive start because of left leg fatigue. He might be able to start a game in Monday’s doubleheader against Atlanta, Rojas said.
Blue Jays: RHP Thomas Hatch is expected to make his season debut Monday night at Boston against RHP Nick Pivetta (8-4, 4.37 ERA) in the opener of a four-game series.
Mets: Begin a five-game home series against Atlanta with a doubleheader Monday. RHP Marcus Stroman (7-8, 2.59) is scheduled to start the opener, with the nightcap TBD. The third-place Braves are five games behind the Mets.
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