NEW YORK (AP)Since getting out of the bullpen, Seth Lugo has brought needed relief to the New York Mets’ rotation.
Lugo earned the first win by a Mets starter in more than three weeks, Phillies star Bryce Harper screamed in an umpire’s face after being ejected for arguing over a foul ball, and New York beat Philadelphia 5-1 Saturday night.
In his third start since joining the rotation, Lugo (2-2) pitched five innings of one-run ball and tied a career high with eight strikeouts. He ended a stretch of 19 games for the Mets without a starter earning a victory, which matched a franchise record set in 1980.
Lugo set a season high with 81 pitches. He’s allowed two runs in 11 2/3 innings with 20 strikeouts and four walks since joining the injury-depleted rotation. It was his first win as a starter since June 2018.
”It’s been a job well done to get him to this point where he can give us five innings,” manager Luis Rojas said. ”Maybe next time he can give us more.”
Throughout his time in the bullpen, Lugo said his preference was to start. Now, he’s eager to become an anchor in a rotation that’s been shaky behind two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom.
”That’s what I like doing and I’m excited for it,” Lugo said.
Andres Gimenez had two RBIs in his bid to steal the starting shortstop job from Amed Rosario. Jeff McNeil hit two doubles, and Michael Conforto added two hits and an RBI as New York snapped a six-game skid against Philadelphia.
Rhys Hoskins homered in the first inning, but the Phillies’ five-game winning streak ended as they lost for only the second time in 12 games. Rookie right-hander Spencer Howard (1-2) allowed three runs in four innings, and reliever Ranger Suarez permitted another two runs.
Harper was tossed in the fifth by first base umpire Roberto Ortiz. The left-handed hitter ripped a first-pitch curveball from Lugo down the first base line, and Ortiz ruled the ball was foul. Harper put his hands on his head as he glared down the line before resuming the at-bat.
After grounding to third for the final out of the inning, Harper began arguing with Ortiz. Phillies second baseman Neil Walker tried to restrain Harper, and Ortiz warned Philadelphia’s $330 million slugger multiple times to stop before signaling his ejection.
Harper then got in Ortiz’s face and began yelling at the 35-year-old umpire – an apparent violation of Major League Baseball’s safety protocols during this pandemic-shortened season.
Harper said he asked Ortiz for clarification on the call as he passed by heading toward right field and that Ortiz quickly became confrontational.
”I don’t understand why it turned or what I did where he was very upset with me,” Harper said. ”Neil Walker was standing right there with me the whole time. I said, `I’m not even mad, I just want to know why he’s so upset and why he’s getting mad and talking to me like I’m a 5-year-old.’
”I said, ‘All I wanted to know was what you saw, and that’s it.’ And then I said, `Just be professional, please,’ and then that’s when he banged me.”
The blowup came an inning after Harper’s defensive miscue allowed Mets veteran Todd Frazier to score from third on Gimenez’s popup to shallow right field.
The strong-armed Harper looked on as Walker caught the ball on his heels and delivered an off-balance, wild throw home that let Frazier score easily. Walker shook his head at Harper after the play and appeared to explain to teammates in the dugout during the next inning that he was waiting for Harper to call him off the ball.
Harper was ejected for the 14th time in his career. The 27-year-old slugger is batting .149 (7 for 47) in his past 15 games following a scorching start.
Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, Miguel Castro and Edwin Diaz pitched a scoreless inning each to close up shop for New York. Diaz struck out three and worked around two walks in a non-save situation.
Rojas wouldn’t commit to Rosario as the team’s everyday shortstop moving forward after starting Gimenez, a 22-year-old rookie, at the position on consecutive days. Rojas said he wanted to ride Gimenez’s hot hand and keep the left-handed hitter in the lineup against the right-handed Howard.
Gimenez had two hits, a walk and a stolen base. He is batting .288 with a team-leading seven steals.
”I’m just trying to take advantage of every opportunity that I get,” Gimenez said via translator.
Rojas said after the game that he hadn’t decided who would start Sunday.
Phillies: INF/OF Scott Kingery (back) took swings off a tee Friday for the first time since going on the 10-day injured list Monday and is eyeing a Wednesday return. … CF Roman Quinn replaced Harper, crashed into the outfield wall chasing a fly ball in the sixth and was removed for a pinch-hitter in the seventh. Quinn was put into concussion protocol, and manager Joe Girardi said the team was awaiting results. … OF Jay Bruce re-aggravated a left quadriceps injury and is likely headed back to the injured list.
Mets: 1B Pete Alonso was given a day off to rest but was available to pinch hit. … C Tomas Nido (COVID-19 injured list) was cleared to resume baseball activities and returned to the club’s 60-man player pool. … RHP Hunter Strickland cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to the club’s alternate site. … RHP Pedro Payano was released.
Phillies RHP Aaron Nola (4-2, 2.46 ERA) opposes deGrom (2-1, 1.76) in a rare showdown between the NL East aces. The pair has only shared the mound once, a 2018 game in which deGrom was pulled after one inning in a return from injury.
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