The Mets should fight more often — or do whatever it is Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil did Friday night. Maybe more players will give it a try. It’s hard to argue with the results.
The night after Lindor and McNeil were involved in some kind of an incident in the tunnel connecting the dugout to the clubhouse following a miscommunication in the field, the two helped the Mets equal their season-high win streak of four.
McNeil and Lindor were responsible for all the offensive production Saturday night, while the Mets’ bullpen continued to excel in a 4-2 victory over the Diamondbacks in front of 7,908 at Citi Field.
McNeil homered, Lindor used his legs to create a run and also drove in McNeil later on. Since the much-publicized but vaguely described incident, the infielders went 5-for-11 at the plate with five RBIs and four runs scored.
“Both of them did special things tonight,” manager Luis Rojas said. “They played really well. They were kind of the spark plug for our offense.”
In the middle of the seventh inning on Friday, Lindor and McNeil were involved in some type of commotion in the tunnel. Several teammates subsequently raced down the tunnel, out of the view of television cameras.
After Friday’s game, Lindor and McNeil made light of whatever it is that had happened, saying they saw a rat or a raccoon in the tunnel and were arguing about it.
Following Saturday’s game, Lindor even gave McNeil a hug during his Zoom press conference, told him, “Hell yeah, baby,” and said to the media, “It’s a Rat-Coon.”
“We have a very good relationship,” McNeil insisted Saturday. “It’s only going to grow from here and it’s just been fantastic to get to know him and play alongside him.”
By now, it is pretty clear that whatever went down between the two had nothing to do with a wild animal. Rojas and acting general manager Zack Scott alluded on Saturday to a disagreement the two had. Scott even said the two players didn’t handle the incident as he would have, or the way others decision-makers would have preferred, suggesting the story was a concoction of the infielders.
“Wouldn’t be my recommendation, and no one in the organization would make that recommendation to handle it that way, but what’s what they chose to do for whatever reason,” Scott said before Saturday’s game.
Whatever happened, it seems to have had a positive impact on both players.
Friday night, shortly after the tunnel incident, Lindor pulled the Mets even with a two-run shot in the seventh inning, his first Citi Field home run. The momentum of that come-from-behind, 10-inning win carried over for both players.
McNeil got the Mets on the board in the third inning Saturday, drilling a 1-1 Merrill Kelly fastball over the heart of the plate over the wall in right-center field. As he circled the bases for his third homer of the year, the big screen in center field superimposed a racoon on his body.
His middle infield companion got to work next. Lindor walked, and with two outs, stole second and came all the way around to score when Carson Kelly’s wild throw wound up in shallow left-center field. Lindor’s first stolen base as a Met, and the 100th of his career, was a memorable one. In the seventh, Lindor plated McNeil with a bloop single.
The Mets’ bullpen, meanwhile, remained dominant after allowing just one run over 8 ¹/₃ innings Friday. Four different relievers — Joey Lucchesi, Jeurys Familia, Aaron Loup and Trevor May — combined to allow two runs over seven innings after Tommy Hunter started the bullpen game with two shutout frames. Over this winning streak, Mets relievers have allowed five runs spanning 25 ¹/₃ innings.
“That transition into a team that walks into the clubhouse expecting to win every day is happening,” said Trevor May, who earned his first Mets save as Edwin Diaz got the night off. “It’s happening and guys are growing.”
The Mets are now set up to go for their first sweep of the young season Sunday afternoon with Jacob deGrom on the mound. That might not have been the case if not for that dustup Friday night.