Lindor, Mets rally after dugout dustup; blame vermin debate
NEW YORK (AP) — Francisco Lindor blamed his apparent dugout dustup with Jeff McNeil on a runaway rodent. One saw a rat, he claimed, and the other a raccoon.
The story stunk like a skunk, but either way, the night ended in a New York Mets victory.
Lindor gathered himself and hit a tying, two-run homer in the seventh inning, setting up the Mets’ extra-innings rally to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-4 Friday night. New York walked off with a victory when designated runner Pete Alonso scored on pinch-hitter Patrick Mazeika’s fielder’s choice.
A day after snapping an 0-for-26 slide with a ninth-inning single in St. Louis, Lindor produced his biggest moment since signing a $341 million, 10-year deal with the Mets. He tied the game by hitting a 2-2 changeup from left-hander Caleb Smith.
The drive came a half-inning after he and second baseman McNeil combined to misplay a grounder. Moments later, after the inning ended, Mets players rushed into the tunnel adjacent to their dugout, sensing a commotion.
Lindor acknowledged after the game that he and McNeil were having a disagreement, but he claimed it had nothing to do with baseball.
“It was funny, I told him, I was like, ‘I’ve never seen a New York rat,‘” Lindor said, grinning widely. “So we went down sprinting. I wanted to go see a New York rat, and (McNeil) got mad at me and was like ’It’s not a rat, it’s a racoon.’”
McNeil’s story matched Lindor’s, and he added the Mets “just like to have fun.” As for anyone else:
“They can believe whatever they want,” he said.
Lindor said he was upset with himself after the grounder, and that his relationship with McNeil was good.
“I can bring him out and give him a kiss on the cheek if you want,” he said. ”
Manager Luis Rojas said he did not see what happened, only that Lindor told him the Mets were going to win the game:
“I don’t know,” Rojas said. “At that point in the game something was going on. I heard some scrambling, the guys going down to the tunnel. I went down to check and when I went down to check and I got there, the one thing that I ran into was Francisco telling me, ’Let’s go play ball, let’s go play ball, Luis,′ and we just came back up.”
After rounding the bases on his homer, Lindor exchanged fist bumps with Tomas Nido, who drew a walk to start the inning, and Michael Conforto, who was waiting in the on-deck circle. Conforto was among the first who flew toward the tunnel during the exchange.
Shortly after Lindor’s second homer as a Met, billionaire owner Steve Cohen tweeted: “That was BIG”.
Mazeika softly hit a 2-2 pitch from Stefan Crichton (0-1) to the first base-side of the mound to score Alonso, who dived head-first across the plate.
Before his homer, Lindor heard boos when he flied out in the fifth with a runner on first. Lindor went 2 for 5 and produced his second multi-hit game as a Met. His other was April 14 against Philadelphia.
Aaron Loup (1-0) tossed a scoreless 10th for the win.
Conforto and Jonathan Villar hit RBI singles off Arizona starter Zac Gallen as the Mets moved over the .500 mark at 14-13 for the first time since April 25 in their first home game since hitting coach Chili Davis and assistant hitting coach Tom Slater were fired Monday.
The Diamondbacks lost their fourth straight after taking a 4-0 lead by scoring all their runs without a hit. Arizona hit 10 singles but went 1 for 16 with runners in scoring position and stranded 13.
“These are the types of games that make your hair fall out and your hair grayer,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.
Tim Locastro drove in a run by getting hit on the foot to start a three-run second inning off David Peterson. Carson Kelly and Christian Walker drew bases-loaded walks to make it 3-0 and chase Peterson.
Gallen reached twice by drawing Arizona’s first walk of its two-out rally and then beat out a double play grounder in the third that scored former Mets player Asdrubal Cabrera.
Gallen allowed a run on three hits in six innings. He struck out five, walked four and dodged significant trouble each inning on a 56-degree night in a game where he made 15 pickoff throws to first base.
Peterson allowed three runs and three hits in a career-low 1 2/3 innings.
Diamondbacks: RHP Merrill Kelly was activated off the injured list and will start Saturday. Kelly was placed on the injured list Tuesday and said he was in the COVID-19 protocol.
Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (right lat inflammation) played catch and threw a side session that manager Luis Rojas said went well. The Mets will assess how deGrom feels Saturday before deciding if he will start Sunday. ... IF Luis Guillorme (strained right oblique) felt pain while swinging and will not be activated Sunday when he is eligible. ... RHP Matt Allan, New York’s top pitching prospect, will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in the next few weeks.
RHP Merrill Kelly (2-2, 5.79) starts for Arizona after being activated off the injured list Friday. The Mets did not announce a starter for Saturday.
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