WASHINGTON, DC – Frustrations spilled onto the field in game two of 162, with most of those emotions emanating from Buck Showalter.
Benches and bullpens cleared in the fifth inning of the Mets’ 7-3 win over the Nationals Friday night after Steve Cishek threw a fastball up and in at Francisco Lindor that appeared to hit him near his jaw and the C-flap of his helmet. It was the fourth time a Mets hitter was hit in two days.
Lindor fell to the ground as Mets manager Buck Showalter was the first man out of the dugout, visibly livid as he barked his disapproval at the Nationals. With Lindor still down, a skirmish formed off the third-base line, with Nationals manager Dave Martinez and several other Mets players right in the center of it.
The Mets shortstop soon got up on his feet and walked toward the skirmish, but was shaken up by the hit by pitch. Moments later, Lindor left the field with a trainer and Cishek was ejected, apparently without a warning. Cishek voiced his displeasure to the umpires before walking off the field.
Luis Guillorme replaced Lindor at first base. Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle took over for Cishek.
The Mets later announced that Lindor’s X-rays on his jaw came back negative, and the shortstop also passed concussion protocols.
Showalter was furious because that was the fourth time a Nationals pitcher drilled a Mets hitter in this series alone. James McCann was hit by a pitch twice on Thursday, and Pete Alonso was plunked on his shoulder / C-flap of his helmet that resulted in a bloody lip.
“It’s dangerous,” Showalter said pregame Friday on the topic of his hitters getting drilled. “If he (the pitcher) does not have command, you can not let him pitch in there, or you can not let him make your club.”
Max Scherzer, making his Mets debut and facing his former team, responded to Lindor’s hit by pitch by retiring the side in the bottom of the fifth.
The story of Scherzer’s quality start on Friday was overshadowed by the drama on the field. The veteran right-hander returned to Washington and faced the Nationals for the first time since 2010. He received a standing ovation from the home crowd, for which he won a World Series in 2019. The Nationals on Thursday put together a tribute video for Scherzer that his former organization of six-plus years played during Opening Day introductions.
Scherzer allowed three earned runs on three hits and recorded six strikeouts across six innings on Friday night. His blemish came on a two-run home run to Josh Bell that tied the game at 3-3 in the fourth inning. But Scherzer recovered quickly, retiring eight of his next nine batters after Bell’s dinger.
Also forgotten by the time the Mets won their second-straight game against the Nationals was Jeff McNeil’s celebratory feat. McNeil, who turned 30 on Friday, homered on his birthday for the second-consecutive year. He is the 16th Mets player in franchise history to homer on his birthday. McNeil joined Mike Piazza and Jim Hickman as the only Mets players to have homered twice on their birthdays in their careers.
Friday night’s game also featured a handful of stoppages. Nationals Park had a lighting issue pregame, causing a 14-minute delay to first pitch. Then the game was paused while benches and bullpens cleared following Lindor’s hit by pitch. The game was again delayed after Cishek was ejected and Doolittle took time to warm up. Finally, a rain delay took place in the top of the ninth inning with no outs and Pete Alonso on second base.