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Cardinals, Mets brawl Wednesday after up-and-in fastball to Arenado

After five batters were hit by pitches on Tuesday night—two Cardinals, three Mets—the potential for fireworks in the series finale was about as predictable as it gets.
The St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets clear the benches in the eighth inning after a Yoan...
The St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets clear the benches in the eighth inning after a Yoan Lopez fastball rode up and in on Nolan Arenado Wednesday, April 27, 2022.(Brenden Schaeffer | Brenden Schaeffer)
Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 8:40 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Nolan Arenado wasn’t surprised that it happened.

The Cardinals slugger figured it was coming. After five batters were hit by pitches on Tuesday night—two Cardinals, three Mets—the potential for fireworks in the series finale was about as predictable as it gets.

So when Arenado stepped into the batter’s box in the eighth inning on the upside of a 10-5 Cardinals lead on Wednesday, he knew there was a chance he could end up wearing a pitch from Mets reliever Yoan Lopez.

“I had a feeling it was coming,” Arenado said before honing in on his issue with the location of a 94-mph fastball that brushed him back from the plate. “I think that’s more the problem. Yeah, that’s the problem. Like, I get it. I get what’s going on in the series. It’s part of the game. But, a little high.

“I don’t know how close it was. It just felt close. It was just high.”

Though the pitch didn’t actually hit Arenado, the notion of the potential damage from a fastball to the head-and-neck area was enough to set Arenado ablaze. The St. Louis slugger emphatically stepped away from the box and shouted in Lopez’s direction, “Do it again!”

As more words kept flowing from both parties, the home plate umpire and Mets catcher Tomas Nido attempted to intervene. But when Lopez began to stride toward Arenado to meet him halfway, it was clear there would be no putting this toothpaste back in the tube. Angling for a bout with Lopez, Arenado shoved Nido to the side, and the brawl was on.

Suffice to say, Cardinals manager Oli Marmol wasn’t happy with the pitch that sparked the incident.

“I didn’t love it. At all,” Marmol said flatly after the game. “When you come up top like that and jeopardize someone’s career and life, yeah, I take exception to that. I don’t think anyone in the big leagues appreciates getting thrown up top. Nolan has every right to react the way he did and go after him. And we’ll protect that.”

Marmol also didn’t like the explanation he received for why no Mets were ejected for their role in the brawl.

“No, I’d like one, though,” Marmol replied when asked where he had any explanation for the lopsided nature of the disqualification count. “Yeah, I’d like an explanation for it. Because the one I got wasn’t good enough... I’ll just leave it at that.”

According to umpire crew chief Mark Wegner, intent was a key factor in why the Cardinals left the melee without two members of their team—Arenado and first base coach Stubby Clapp—while the Mets did not have any personnel ejected from the game. Wegner told the pool reporter that he did not believe the high-and-tight location of the Lopez fastball to Arenado was intentional.

Clapp, who could be seen on video pulling Mets first baseman Pete Alonso to the ground in the midst of the chaos, was ejected for “his over-aggressive actions in the melee,” per Wegner in the pool report.

That’s another element to which Marmol responded with displeasure.

“He’s making sure that guy doesn’t come after one of ours,” Marmol said. “He’s holding him back. I don’t see an issue with it at all. I watched it several times before coming in here. And he’s keeping their guy from getting on top of one of ours. So I’m okay with it.”

To recap the Cardinals’ side of things, they knew some retaliation for the sheer volume of hit batters in this series was possible. Arenado acknowledged that it’s part of the game. But when you go up high with a pitch like that, it’s hard to act like it didn’t happen after everything that had unfolded to this point in the series.

This is the part where Mets fans might be asking for clarification—and that’s putting it mildly.

So, let’s clarify. Yes, Mets slugger Pete Alonso was hit in the head with a pitch earlier in this very same series, providing kindling for the explosive scenario that unfolded Wednesday. However, the pitch that Cardinals reliever Kodi Whitley threw that clipped Alonso in the batting helmet on Tuesday was delivered at 83-mph. What it was not was a 94-mph fastball.

That incident with Whitley and Alonso Tuesday nearly led to a benches-clearing event right then and there. Several Mets personnel took a number of steps out of their dugout Tuesday, waiting to see whether the shot to Alonso meant rumble time. Cooler heads prevailed, but it wasn’t difficult to imagine a scenario where things would ramp up on Wednesday.

New York’s displeasure is understandable. When Genesis Cabrera plunked J.D. Davis in the foot in the top of the eighth, just a half-inning prior to the melee, Davis became the 19th Met to be hit by a pitch on the young season. According to SNY, no other team has been hit by more than 11 pitches on the year.

“For us, it’s just on to the next one,” Alonso said. “It happened. But we don’t take this stuff lightly. We don’t take getting hit in the head—whether it’s on purpose or on accident, guys are still getting hit in the head.”

Alonso then compared the situation of pitchers hitting batters in a dangerous area to a driver T-boning another vehicle—something that did, unfortunately, happen to Alonso this spring.

His point: Whether they meant to do it or not, the damage has been done.

“It doesn’t matter where the intent is,” Alonso said. “The fact of the matter is that it still happened.”

And on behalf of the Mets, Alonso also maintained that his team wouldn’t have thrown at a batter intentionally in that situation.

“I’m totally for standing up for teammates,” Alonso said. “But what happened today, it just didn’t make sense. The ball wasn’t even close. Something got started for no reason. It wasn’t even close. I know it’s a five-run ballgame, but we’re trying to come back. The whole thing didn’t even make sense.”

Wasn’t even close? That’s an interpretation with which the St. Louis third baseman would likely disagree. Presumably the manager, too.

“I think my four-year-old had an inkling it was coming,” Marmol said.

With Arenado out of the action and Willie McGee coaching first base in Clapp’s absence, the Cardinals eventually won Wednesday’s game, 10-5. The Cardinals will see the Mets again next month with a four-game series in Queens, May 16-19.