NEW YORK (AP) — Jeff McNeil and Francisco Lindor teamed up to produce all four runs a night after scuffling in the dugout and the New York Mets beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-2 Saturday night.
The pair attempted to dismiss Friday’s dustup by bizarrely claiming they were arguing over an animal spotted in the clubhouse tunnel — Lindor said it was a rat, McNeil’s story was that it was a raccoon or possum.
No critters Saturday for the All-Star hitters. McNeil drove a two-run homer in the third off Merrill Kelly (2-3), and Lindor had a double, an RBI and scored on a throwing error after a stolen base.
Lindor crashed McNeil’s postgame video call with reporters, hugged his teammate and said they saw a “ratcoon” Friday night.
“It’s fantastic playing with him,” McNeil said. “I hope to do so for a long time. He’s going to be here for a little while.”
Lindor, acquired from the Cleveland Indians in January, signed a $341 million, 10-year extension with the Mets the night before opening day.
“So hopefully I can do the same and we can have a great up-the-middle combination for years to come,” McNeil said.
Five pitchers combined for an eight-hitter on a bullpen day for the Mets, who have won four straight. Opener Tommy Hunter tossed two hitless innings before Joey Lucchesi (1-2) maintained a combined no-hitter until the sixth. He earned the win after allowing one run over 3 1/3 innings.
Trevor May earned his first save with the Mets with a one-hit ninth.
Lucchesi drew a walk leading off the third against Kelly. McNeil followed with a homer, after which Lindor walked, stole second — his 100th career theft — and raced home on a two-base throwing error by Diamondbacks catcher Carson Kelly.
In the seventh, McNeil beat out the back end of a potential double-play grounder, stole second and scored on Lindor’s single.
“I said it in the pregame — everything that happens here is just an opportunity for us to get better,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “Those guys were out there having fun. Both of them did special things tonight.”
Kelly allowed three runs (two earned) in 5 2/3 innings for the Diamondbacks, who fell to 0-5 on a six-game trip — a span in which they have been outscored 29-10.
“It had an awkward flow to it today and I felt like if we continue to play this game we would eventually chase it down, but unfortunately we only have nine innings,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “There’s a lot of little things we’re doing well and a lot of little things we’re not doing well. And those little things matter to me and they matter to this organization. We’ve got to tighten that up a little bit and we will.”
Josh Rojas reached via catcher’s interference in his first two plate appearances for the Diamondbacks, delivered their first hit — a single leading off the sixth — and scored their first run on a groundout by David Peralta.
Arizona was 3 for 10 with runners in scoring position after going 1 for 16 in such situations Friday. The Diamondbacks left the bases loaded in the seventh against Jeurys Familia. Pinch-hitter Stephen Vogt had an RBI single in the eighth before Aaron Loup stranded stranded runners at the corners by inducing Pavin Smith to hit a comebacker.
“We’re getting guys on — the timely hits just haven’t fallen for us like they have in the past,” Rojas said. “I think it’s only a matter of time before those big hits that we need to pile it on will start dropping again.”
CATCHER’S INTERFERENCE SQUARED
Rojas became the first Diamondbacks player to reach base via catcher’s interference twice in the same game. It was just the second time in franchise history Arizona batters reached twice on catcher’s interference in the same game. Didi Gregorius and Paul Goldschmidt did so against the New York Yankees on April 18, 2013.
FOR STARTERS … FINALLY
Hunter made his first start since Aug. 22, 2012, when he gave up eight runs over three innings for the Baltimore Orioles against the Texas Rangers. He had made 375 relief appearances since.
Hunter said he was far more nervous in his Mets debut Friday, when he also tossed two innings, than he was returning to a starting role.
“It had been a little while since I’d been in a game situation, been a while since I played with fans in the stands, so (Friday) night was difficult,” Hunter said. “Coming out today, it was a lot better for me, personally. The butterflies were kind of gone.”
Diamondbacks: OF Ketel Marte (right hamstring) has increased the intensity of his running and batting practice and could be ready to begin a rehab assignment shortly. Marte was injured April 7. … Manager Torey Lovullo said LHP Madison Bumgarner (right wrist) is feeling no ill effects from being hit by a pitch while batting against the Miami Marlins Thursday.
Mets: RHP Noah Syndergaard (Tommy John surgery) and RHP Seth Lugo (right elbow) could start rehab assignments within the next week. Acting general manager Zack Scott said the hope is Lugo can return in late May while Syndergaard wouldn’t be back until sometime in June. … Scott said the Mets would continue to take things slowly with RHP Carlos Carrasco (right hamstring), who was moved to the 60-day injured list Thursday and can’t return until at least May 29.
Diamondbacks: RHP Riley Smith (1-1, 4.91 ERA) is slated to make his fourth start of the season. He is 0-1 with a 6.55 ERA in four games (two starts) since beating the Cincinnati Reds on April 10.
Mets: Manager Luis Rojas confirmed after the game that RHP Jacob deGrom (2-2, 0.51 ERA) would make his first start since April 28. DeGrom was scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday due to a sore right lat.
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