CINCINNATI — Pete Alonso felt going into the season that reaching 50 home runs was possible.
Now that the Tampa native is there, it has become hard to believe.
New York’s rookie first baseman hit his major-league-leading 50th home run, Jacob deGrom pitched shutout ball for seven innings and the Mets beat the Reds 8-1 Friday night.
“It was always in the realm of possibility,” said Alonso, 24, a former Plant High and Florida standout. “It’s hard to wrap my mind around it. It means the world to me, but I don’t think I’ll be able to appreciate it until after the season.”
Amed Rosario hit a two-run homer and Jeff McNeil added a solo shot for the Mets, who remained 3 1/2 games behind Milwaukee for the second NL wild card after the Brewers beat the Pirates 10-1.
Alonso is two homers shy of Yankees star Aaron Judge’s rookie record, set in 2017. However, Alonso is the first player to hit 50 homers in the season of his MLB debut.
The right-handed hitter connected on a two-run blast in the eighth against reliever Sal Romano, reaching for a down-and-away fastball and lining it an estimated 437 feet to the faux riverboat smokestacks in right-centerfield.
“The catcher reached down and to the right, and (Alonso) reached out and flicked it to the steam towers,” New York manager Mickey Callaway said. “It was a well-executed pitch. I don’t know what you do if you’re a pitcher. (Former Red) Todd Frazier said he has never seen a right-hander hit one there.”
Alonso is the second rookie to reach 50 homers, and he leads Cincinnati’s Eugenio Suarez by two for most in the majors.
The Reds intentionally walked Alonso during New York’s three-run ninth.
Cincinnati rookie Aristides Aquino led off the ninth with a homer. The midseason call-up has 17 home runs in 49 games this season.
DeGrom struck out nine and didn’t walk anybody to match his win total from last season, when he won the NL Cy Young Award. He could be a repeat winner after dropping his ERA to 2.51.
“I’ve been able to locate all my pitches and throw them when I want,” deGrom said. “Having the feel of my curve and changeup and moving the fastball in and our helps keep them off balance.
McNeil broke up the scoreless tie with his 23rd homer, a towering drive into the visitors’ bullpen down the right field line with one out in the sixth inning.
Rosario followed J.D. Davis’s two-out walk with a two-run shot to left-center field, his 14th homer.
Those were two of the three hits allowed by Luis Castillo in seven innings. Castillo (15-7) struck out seven and walked three.
“We got to see first-hand why deGrom is so good,” Reds manager David Bell said .”I saw really sharp stuff. He had it all going. I saw the same thing with Castillo. He was really good. You can’t do much better than that. You’d like to have those two pitches back, but he was really good.”