They seem unlikely teams to get involved in a heated rivalry. The New York Mets lead the National League East. The Pittsburgh Pirates sit last in the NL Central.
However, emotions surely will be monitored Saturday night in Pittsburgh when the teams play the second game of a three-game weekend series.
That’s because of what happened in the bottom of the fifth inning Friday in the series opener. New York starter Marcus Stroman got slightly animated in celebrating the end of the inning when Pittsburgh’s John Nogowski lined out.
Nogowski took exception. The two shouted at each other, prompting both benches and bullpens to empty. It didn’t escalate beyond shoving and shouting, and there were no ejections.
Stroman won’t be in Saturday’s game, of course, but he might have fueled some flames after the game Friday when he said, “I’m never one to let any man talk down on me, especially when it’s not warranted at all. (Nogowski) is just a clown, man.”
Nogowski was more circumspect.
“It was just two competitive guys going at it,” he said. “I mean, that’s baseball.”
The Pirates were leading 2-1 when the benches cleared Friday, and they punctuated the emotion of the situation with homers from Wilmer Difo and Bryan Reynolds in the sixth and seventh, respectively, for a 4-1 win.
Pittsburgh has homered in six straight games, 10 homers total, including five in the past two games against New York.
The Mets and Pirates split a four-game series last weekend leading into the All-Star break, with no incidents. Despite that result, New York has won eight of the past 12 meetings between the clubs.
New York, like a lot of teams, has had its share of injuries. Friday, on the day that infielder J.D. Davis was reinstated from the IL, shortstop Francisco Lindor left in the fifth because of right-side soreness. He appeared to suffer the injury swinging on a groundout.
Mets manager Luis Rojas said Lindor will have tests Saturday morning.
Saturday, New York right-hander Tylor Megill (0-0, 3.50 ERA) is scheduled to start against Pittsburgh right-hander Wil Crowe (1-5, 6.05).
Megill faced the Pirates in the second half of a doubleheader last Saturday and did not get a decision after pitching 3 2/3 innings, giving up one run and four hits, with three walks and seven strikeouts.
The rookie has 26 strikeouts in four starts since he came up in June, tying a Mets franchise record.
“My goal coming into the season was to finish here, but I never expected it to come this early,” Megill said.
Neither did Rojas, but he’s glad it has worked out this way.
“To see him here after watching from afar what he was doing at Double-A and Triple-A, I’m very impressed,” Rojas said. “I wasn’t expecting him to be here and be throwing the way he’s throwing. He’s showing everybody he’s got the poise, he’s got the stuff and the maturity to be here.”
Crowe, who has never faced the Mets, is coming off a no-decision July 7 against Atlanta. He gave up two runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings, with two walks and four strikeouts.
–Field Level Media