Subway Series narrowly escapes a bench-clearing brawl

Mets' Jeff McNeil reacts after being hit by a pitch from Yankees' Carlos Rodon during the Subway Series on July 26, 2023.

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In the second game of the Subway Series on Wednesday, Carlos Rodon hit Mets’ Jeff McNeil in the back with a pitch after two other Mets hitters were also hit in the previous game. It created tense moments at Yankee Stadium and many expected a brawl to break out considering reactions from the Mets’ dugout. However, the Subway Series stayed clear of any such scuffle.

After being hit by the pitch, Jeff McNeil threw his helmet toward the mound while he was still on the ground, displaying his anger and discomfort. He stayed down for several minutes, receiving attention from the Mets’ medical staff.

Despite the incident, McNeil stayed in the game and headed to first base while some Yankees fielders approached a visibly upset Carlos Rodon. However, there was no bench-clearing altercation in the Subway Series.

Subway Series rife with multiple instances of potential brawl

During the Subway Series on Wednesday, there were multiple instances of Mets hitters getting hit by pitches. First, Mark Vientos was hit in the wrist by Albert Abreu in the top of the ninth inning. Later, Francisco Alvarez was hit in the hand by another pitch from Abreu, although it was ruled a strikeout as Alvarez was deemed to have swung at the pitch.

Despite that, two Mets batters experienced fastballs in the mid-90s hitting them around the hand region before McNeil got hit by Rodon.

The concerning pattern persisted, extending back to the previous season when the Mets established a record by being hit by pitches a total of 112 times. For comparison, the San Francisco Giants ranked second in this aspect with a total of 95 hit-by-pitches.

This season, the Mets continue to top the league in this category, entering Wednesday’s game with 68 hit-by-pitches, closely followed by the Seattle Mariners with 66.

Mets manager Buck Showalter wondered aloud before Wednesday’s Subway Series game why his team consistently leads the league every year in hit-by-pitch. He mentioned that it’s part of hitting and suggested that the batters’ approaches and the difficulty in gripping the baseball might contribute to their high number of hit-by-pitches.

However, Showalter and the Mets’ clubhouse did not attribute the high number of hit-by-pitches to any deliberate intent or conspiracy against the team. Brandon Nimmo, who ranks second on the team with 16 hit-by-pitches this year, thinks it’s a mix of various factors contributing to the high number of HBPs.

Nimmo stated that one of the strategies opponents use to get their team out is to pitch up and in, which sometimes results in players getting hit by pitches.

According to Nimmo, there isn’t a lot they can do to prevent getting hit by pitches, whether it’s from a hitting or pitching standpoint. But he didn’t push it to the Subway Series.

Nimmo expressed that there isn’t a way to police the situation anymore. He mentioned that they can get hit by pitches, but if they retaliate and hit the next guy, their players might get ejected, which they can’t afford. He emphasized that there’s nothing they can do in such circumstances.

But the Mets slugger pondered how to address or solve the issue. Regarding Abreu’s actions on Tuesday’s Subway Series game, he believed that there were no malicious intentions behind them.

The Mets’ pitching staff ranks fifth in the league for hitting batters, totaling 52 occurrences.

Mets term hits-by-pitches unintentional

Nimmo stated that it can be difficult to determine if a pitcher’s actions are unintentional or deliberate. In Tuesday’s game, it didn’t appear that there was any ill intent from Abreu. Nimmo believed Abreu was trying to execute his sinkers inside, and the consequence of losing control at such high velocity could have severe consequences for a player’s season. That’s why Nimmo wears protective gear, even though he doesn’t like to, as each piece represents a place where he has been hit in the past.

Nimmo acknowledged that wearing protective gear is their primary defense against getting hit by pitches now. He emphasized that there is always a risk involved every time a batter steps up to the plate.

Adam Ottavino has matched his personal record, hitting seven batters this season. While he was aware of the Mets’ hitters getting hit more than any other team last year, he wasn’t aware of the current statistics for this season.

Ottavino mentioned that various situations can lead to different outcomes, and it doesn’t necessarily imply any intent. He recalled that last year, the team felt annoyed with certain teams, but as they kept getting hit, it didn’t seem intentional.

Similar to Showalter, Ottavino acknowledged that the balls were challenging to grip last season, and he also recognized his own tendency to hit opposing batters.

Ottavino mentioned that he has hit several batters this year in a similar manner. According to him, when he tries to throw inside and the batters half-swing and dive in, hitting them becomes inevitable.

Their thoughts helps avert a brawl and the Subway Series remained without any more untoward incidents.

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