The New York Mets have made it no secret they’re unhappy they’ve been hit by so many pitches this season — the Mets had been hit an MLB-leading 18 times coming into Wednesday, seven more than any other team — and their frustrations boiled over into a benches-clearing incident with the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday afternoon (STL 10, NYM 5).
In the bottom of the eighth inning Mets righty Yoan López threw up and in at Nolan Arenado, and the benches cleared after Arenado had some words for López and catcher Tomás Nido. Cardinals lefty Génesis Cabrera hit JD Davis with a pitch in the previous inning, and Davis had to exit the game with an ankle injury.
“I don’t know how close it was. It just felt close. It was just high,” Arenado said after the game (video). “I’m not saying he’s trying to throw it up there. It’s just the ball got away, but that’s the problem with that stuff.”
Here’s the fracas. Arenado and Cardinals first base coach Stubby Clapp were ejected:
“You’d be putting words in my mouth that it was intentional, which it wasn’t,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said following the game (video). When asked about Arenado’s reaction, Showalter added: “I’ll let them handle their players. I know our player got hit in the head and went to first base (Tuesday night).”
Five players (three Mets and two Cardinals) were hit in Tuesday night’s game, including Pete Alonso in the head, as Showalter referenced. It prompting Mets righty Chris Bassitt to rip MLB for the baseball being inconsistent. Cardinals righty Miles Mikolas shot back Wednesday morning, saying “It’s not the ball’s fault. Take some responsibility for your actions.”
“It’s one of those things, whether it’s intentional or not, it has to stop,” Starling Marte said following Tuesday’s game. “We’re tired of (getting hit) and we’re going to have to do something about it if it continues to happen because it is uncomfortable every time you go out there to get hit.”
“Getting domed up isn’t fun, it’s honestly not safe, it’s dangerous and there’s consequences whether it’s on purpose or not,” Alonso said after Wednesday’s game. “We’re gonna stand up for ourselves.”
Alonso was tackled from behind by Clapp — note Clapp’s ejection — and said the following on that: “I got pulled from behind, actually Génesis Cabrera grabbed me by the back of the collar and he just ripped down and the coach just kinda jumped on me. I felt that was kinda cheap, coming from behind. If you wanna pull me back, if you wanna restrain me, go at me like a man.”
“If I wanted to put someone in the hospital, I easily could, but I was just out there trying to protect my guys.”
Prior to Wednesday’s game Buck Showalter said he didn’t want the Mets to retaliate for the hit by pitches because someone could get injured. From Newsday‘s Tim Healey:
“There’s a lot of emotion flying around. Stop, think this through. There’s a lot of ways to show your toughness other than reciprocating hitting somebody else in the head. Then all of a sudden somebody’s career is over and somebody’s laying there with blood coming out of their ears. How do you really feel? Was it worth it? No, it was kind of stupid. But there’s a lot of frustration.”
The Mets are an outlier this year — again, they were hit 18 times going into Wednesday’s game and no other team was hit more than 11 — though their frustration is understandable. That said, throwing up and in at a hitter will always be met with a response from the other team. There are right and wrong ways to retaliate, and anything up around the head will only escalate the situation.
Thursday was López’s debut with the Mets. Going into Wednesday’s game teams were averaging 0.42 hit by pitchers per game in the early going this season. The hit by pitch rate was in the 0.40-0.46 range every year from 2017-21.