PHOENIX — Unscientific fact: Polar Bears thrive in the desert.
Pete Alonso became Exhibit A on Monday, returning from the injured list to carry this Mets lineup on a night Jacob deGrom’s right arm was determined to handle the rest.
Alonso drove in four runs, two of them with a titanic homer, and deGrom fired six shutout innings to lead the Mets’ fifth straight victory, 6-2 over the Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
Reinforcements arrived en masse as Alonso, Kevin Pillar and Seth Lugo were activated from the IL before the game. In addition, the Mets selected Mason Williams from Triple-A Syracuse to provide further outfield depth.
Alonso’s bat was enough. The slugging first baseman crushed a two-run single in the third inning against Merrill Kelly before launching a two-run blast in the seventh. Alonso had spent the last 1 ½ weeks sidelined by a sprained right hand.
Pillar entered the game late as a defensive replacement for Dominic Smith in left field and singled in his first plate appearance off the IL — he was hit in the face by a pitch on May 17 in Atlanta.
DeGrom, in his second appearance since missing two starts with right side tightness, was removed after six scoreless innings and 70 pitches. He struck out eight and allowed only two hits, with his fastball consistently at triple digits on the radar gun. In the first two innings alone he threw 14 pitches that registered at least 100 mph.
Trevor May scuffled in the seventh, allowing two runs on three hits before Miguel Castro got the final out of the inning with help from Williams, whose lunging catch at the center-field fence robbed Domingo Leyba.
Billy McKinney’s homer (his second in as many games) got a run back in the eighth as the Mets had a second straight explosive night. On Saturday, the Mets hit a season-high five homers in their 13-2 demolition of the Braves.
The chants of “M-V-P” followed deGrom, whether he was coming off the mound or stepping to the plate.
It’s a chant deGrom has heard at Citi Field this season, and here 2,000 miles west — with a large contingent of Mets fans in the house — those voices were just as loud, if not louder.
And who is to argue with them at this point?
One day before the ninth anniversary of Johan Santana’s no-hitter, deGrom retired the first 13 batters he faced before Carson Kelly singled with one out in the fifth. Two batters later, Josh Reddick hit a ball that McKinney dropped on a diving catch attempt in right field that was ruled a single. DeGrom escaped his only jam of the night by striking out Leyba to end the inning.
For deGrom it was an eighth straight start to begin the season in which he allowed one earned run or less. In those eight starts he has allowed only 22 hits and struck out 82. On this night deGrom’s ERA dropped from 0.80 to 0.71.
DeGrom added to his legend offensively with an RBI single in the fourth, after Kelly had intentionally walked Williams ahead of him. The RBI was the third this season for deGrom, who is batting .450.
The two-out rally started when Jose Peraza’s fly to left-center landed between David Peralta and Ketel Marte, each of whom backed off on the play.
Alonso, in his second plate appearance since returning from the injured list, hit a two-run single in the third to get the Mets started. Peraza and Williams each singled ahead of him to start the rally. Williams replaced Cameron Maybin, who was designated for assignment after going 1-for-28 to start his Mets career.