The message coming from the New York Mets clubhouse after Wednesday’s loss to the St. Louis Cardinals was clear: Mess around and find out.
After their batters were hit 19 times in 20 games — including four in the series in St. Louis — the Mets finally said enough was enough and took business into their own hands. Reliever Yoan Lopez buzzing a fastball up and in at Cardinals star third baseman Nolan Arenado (the pitch did not come all that close to actually hitting him).
Arenado proceeded to throw a temper tantrum that the Mets had the audacity to throw near him just moments after New York third baseman JD Davis was injured by a fastball that hit his foot. This one day after three Mets batters were hit on a Tuesday night that featured Pete Alonso getting hit in the head for the second time this season.
Gesticulating wildly toward Lopez and the Mets dugout while shoving catcher Tomas Nido, the benches cleared where Alonso unexplainable was surrounded by Cardinals, pulled down by reliever Genesis Cabrera, and tackled by their first-base coach, Stubby Clapp.
“I thought that was kind of cheap, going from behind,” Alonso said. “If you want to hold me back, if you want to restrain me, go at me like a man.
“I’m a big, strong guy. They don’t know my temper. They don’t know what I can do. If I wanted to put someone in the hospital, I easily could. I was just out there trying to protect my guys.”
Meanwhile, Cardinals manager Ollie Marmol was hit with momentary amnesia as he simply forgot about Alonso getting hit in the head just the night before — and showed just how tone-deaf the Cardinals were on Wednesday afternoon.
“When you come up top like that and jeopardize someone’s career and life, I take exception to that,” he said, failing to mention his pitchers beaning the Mets slugger and injuring Davis.
New York’s 19 hit batters are six more than the second-place Baltimore Orioles and more than double the current league average of eight. And while some will try to explain that it wasn’t always the opposition’s intent to hit a Mets batter, such an excuse has lost any validity.
“We don’t take getting hit in the head. Whether it’s on purpose or on accident, guys are still getting hit in the head, it doesn’t matter,” Alonso said (h/t SNY). “Like if someone T-bones you, right? ‘Oh, it was an accident.’ You still flipped someone’s car over, right? So, it doesn’t matter where the intent is, the fact of the matter is that it’s still happening.”
While Buck Showalter admitted on Wednesday that he and general manager Billy Eppler had a conversation with Major League Baseball about the issue, his team’s actions indicated that they aren’t going to wait around any longer for help.
That doesn’t mean that they should start whizzing fastballs at opposing batters, but if the problems continue, shades of the mid-1980s teams that made brawling commonplace might just resurface.
And MLB surely doesn’t want that.
The Mets likely will have their calendars circled for when the Cardinals are in town, visiting Citi Field for a four-game series from May 16-19. But first, the Philadelphia Phillies are in Queens this weekend after having hit five Mets in their season-opening series from April 11-13 in Philly.