Pittsburgh – The second half of the season was off and getting underway on Friday night – but not in a good direction for the NL East’s first place team.
Francisco Lindor’s grin on a swing in the fifth inning, which knocked him out of the game, was just the beginning. Before long, benches at PNC Park were getting empty, giving the Mets an opportunity to swing, resulting in solid contact. There was none, continuing a theme for the Mets, who managed only three hits in a 4–1 loss to the Pirates.
The biggest imminent concern is Lindor, who reached his right side after hitting the ground ball at first base, on which it remained in the batsman’s box. He was replaced by Luis Guillorme at shortstop for the bottom of the fifth and will receive further evaluation on Saturday. According to the Mets he went away with pain on the right side.
Then came the fireworks. After John Nogowski finished fifth, he began jogging with Mets starter Marcus Strowman, who yelled at the Pirates’ first baseman as he walked toward him. Catcher James McCann met between Ngowski and Strowman, while the bench and bullpen were both emptied. A scuffle ensued, but no punches were thrown, and Strowman was on his knees with his hands before leaving the field.
Ngowski may have reacted to Strowman pounding his gloves to celebrate the final of the innings, leaving Brian Reynolds stuck at third base.
This was the second vacant bench this season after a Strowman exchange with a player. On June 1, Strowman retired the Diamondbacks’ Josh Rojas to finish the fifth inning and the two became involved in a heated exchange, prompting both teams to take the field. Rojas later said that Strowman was trying to fire the Diamondbacks, who began a rally against Strowman in the next inning.
On Friday, Strowman conceded two runs on eight hits in five innings, and he went after 92 pitches. The right-handed batsman was not quick but managed to keep the Mets in the game.
Wilmer Defoe congratulated Strowman’s replacement, Drew Smith, with a homer finishing sixth, which extended the Pirates’ lead to 3–1. Reynolds homed in the seventh against Juris Familia to give the Pirates their final run.
The Pirates are anchored to the NL Central basement but have been a nuisance for the Mets, who have lost three of five games between teams this season. Sunday included a 6-5 gut-punch by the Pirates at Citi Field, with Edwin Diaz conceding two runs in the ninth inning.
On Friday, the Mets went 0-for-12 with the runners in scoring position and managed just one hit after the second inning.
Strowman conceded two runs in a rocky second innings, which included a 30-minute rain delay. With the base loaded and one out in a scoreless game, the game was halted by heavy rain. When action resumed, Strowman retired Chad Kuhl but surrendered a two-run single to Adam Frazier. K’Brien Hayes chased a single for the fifth hit of the Pirates’ innings, but Strowman dismissed Reynolds to avoid damage.
The Mets broke through with a run in the fourth, ending an 11-innings scoreless streak against the Pirates. Pete Alonso made a leadoff walk and Jonathan Villar, with a dismissal, got the run home from third on the ground out, before a Kevin Newman mistake by Jeff McNeil reached shortstop.
Alonso and McNeil reached base in succession to start in second place, but were trapped. In the third, Strowman and Nimmo went to open the innings, but Kuhl hit Lindor in a double play before Dominic Smith was dismissed.