The pitch was a 1-1 fastball, all of 91 mph, and it landed square between the numbers on Ian Desmond’s back.
The Rockies center fielder stopped on his way to first base, staring at Mets reliever Drew Gagnon, as the two exchanged words.
There was reason for Desmond to believe Gagnon had thrown with intent. David Dahl and Daniel Murphy had blown Friday night’s game open in the eighth inning, each belting a line-drive home run to right field and increasing Colorado’s lead to four runs in an eventual 5-1 Mets loss at Citi Field.
“He hit me and I said, ‘What are you doing?’ ” Desmond said. “And he said it wasn’t on purpose. And at that point, I just put my head down and kinda started walking up the line.”
Whether Gagnon’s frustration had boiled over or the pitch merely was the latest in a line of mistakes didn’t matter.
Though Gagnon didn’t earn the loss on Friday — that was starter Jacob deGrom, despite his giving up just two runs in six innings while striking out 10 — the reliever was at the center of it by serving up three earned runs in just two-thirds of an inning. Thus, the collective reaction at the hit-by-pitch.
The Mets’ infielders walked toward the first base line. The Rockies spilled out of their dugout — with Murphy, the former Met, one of the first over the railing — followed by the players from the home team’s bench. Then came both bullpens, pitchers jogging to the infield and joining the fray, if you could call it that.
The teams came back for another round after Desmond thought deGrom had chirped something.
“Honestly, I just looked at him and I think he thought I said something,” deGrom said. “I have no problem with him. I think it was just a misunderstanding.”
“It’s just boys being boys, playing a game,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said.
No punches were thrown, and the umpires eventually broke up the incident and issued both sides a warning. Crew chief Mike Winters said after the game the umpires didn’t think the pitch was intentional, thus the warnings instead of ejections. That was backed up by players on both sides.
“Complete accident,” Gagnon said. “It looks bad, but that wasn’t my intention at all.”
Though Rockies manager Bud Black expressed uncertainty over whether the pitch was intentional, the visiting clubhouse held a sense of frustrated belief in Gagnon’s words.
“I don’t think it was a great look,” Murphy said. “The first one was up and in, and then I think it was a change-up. And then he got one right in the back.
“But I will say, there’s a lot of guys over there on that team that I trust, in this industry, that I think are — I really value their opinion. And they were all saying they didn’t think it was on purpose.”
Desmond endorsed that sentiment as well.
“Water under the bridge,” he said, and for now, it seems that’s all it is.