Rockies, Mets meet again after testy Friday

Field Level Media

June 08, 2019 at 8:08 am.

Until the eighth inning of Friday night’s game, the New York Mets and Colorado Rockies — two teams who are separated by about 1,800 miles, paired up for only six or seven games per year and have never opposed one another in the postseason — might have been each other’s least-interesting rival.

But a couple of near-skirmishes Friday mean there might finally be something percolating Saturday, when the Mets host the Rockies in the middle game of a three-game series. Left-hander Steven Matz (4-4, 3.97 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for New York against right-hander Jon Gray (5-4, 4.11 ERA).

The Rockies earned a 5-1 win in Friday’s opener, when David Dahl (two-run shot) and Daniel Murphy (solo blast) hit long homers in the eighth off Mets reliever Drew Gagnon to blow open a close game.

Things got juicy three pitches after Murphy’s homer, when Gagnon plunked Ian Desmond in the middle of the back. Gagnon’s first pitch of the at-bat also brushed Desmond off the plate.

After he was plunked, Desmond took a couple steps towards Gagnon as Murphy — who has dominated the Mets since his former club didn’t make him an offer after he reached free agency following the 2015 season — leaped over the dugout railing to begin the emptying of both benches and bullpens.

No punches were exchanged, though there were two separate gatherings of both teams along the first-base line. The second one happened after Desmond thought the Mets’ Jacob deGrom — who struck out 10 over six innings but took the loss — said something to him while the first meeting was breaking up. DeGrom called the issue a misunderstanding.

Desmond said he wasn’t upset once Gagnon told him the pitch was unintentional, but players on each side agreed the optics were bad in the moment.

“When you give up two home runs and you hit a guy, it looks bad,” Gagnon said. “But it wasn’t my intention at all.”

“I don’t think it was a great look,” said Murphy, who is hitting .386 with 12 homers and 44 RBIs in 47 games since 2016 against the Mets, who didn’t make an attempt to retain him after he capped a 10-year tenure in the organization by hitting seven homers in the postseason during New York’s run to the World Series in 2015.

“But I will say, there’s a lot of guys over there on that team that I trust in this industry, that I really value their opinion, and they were all saying they didn’t think it was on purpose,” Murphy added. “I don’t think it’s a great look. But I’m going to take them at their word and say that it wasn’t on purpose, and hopefully we come out (Saturday) and win a series.”

Both teams were issued warnings by home plate umpire Chris Segal and the rest of the game was played without incident. Crew chief Mike Winters told a pool reporter that Segal also believed there was no intent behind Gagnon’s pitch, but that he had no choice except to warn the teams due to the multiple emptying of the benches and bullpens.

“Given the situation, when everybody’s milling around like that, it’s usually the best move to put in a warning,” Winters said. “We’re stuck. We can’t just do nothing there.”

On Saturday, perhaps the Mets and Rockies will find out if there’s something there.

Matz took the loss in his most recent start Sunday, when he gave up five runs and eight hits over six innings as the Mets fell to the Arizona Diamondbacks, 7-1. Gray last started on June 1, when he earned the win by allowing just two hits over 6 2/3 scoreless innings in the Rockies’ 4-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Both pitchers have struggled with their Saturday opponent. Matz is 0-4 with a 6.85 ERA in five career starts against the Rockies. Gray is 1-1 with a 9.72 ERA in four starts against the Mets.