José Alvarado has a thing with the Mets.
He turned the Phillies’ relatively sleepy 2-1 victory over New York on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park into a storyline worth following the rest of the weekend and season. After Alvarado struck out Dominic Smith swinging with the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second for the third out in the eighth inning, he celebrated on the mound, then said a few things and made a few aggressive gestures at Smith.
Smith took offense. He said a few things back. Alvarado dropped his glove. Smith did not back down. Phillies catcher Andrew Knapp stepped in front of him. The benches and the bullpens emptied, but no punches were thrown.
"I don't mind people pimping strikeouts, pimping stuff on the field,” Smith said. “I've never been a player like that, but I don't mind it. I love it. But him pointing at me, coming after me, stuff like that? I'm a grown-ass man. Come meet me then if you really got a problem, and we can really handle it. So that's how I look at that issue. He waited for his team to grab him and stuff, but I'm right there. And he can meet me in the tunnel tomorrow if he really wants to get after it.
"I said a couple of things. I'm ready. I'm walking toward you. You don't got to walk toward your bench. If you're going to [expletive] me and follow me, then come get me then, because I'm 60 feet away. So that's all I was saying. And obviously it didn't escalate that far, but like I said, I'm a grown-ass man, so I don't take none of that [stuff]."
Alvarado, who made an exaggerated “talking” gesture toward Smith, did not talk after the game.
“I think it’s over,” Phillies bench coach Rob Thomson said.
Better beef up the security on the service level Saturday to be safe.
Alvarado’s bad blood with Smith stemmed from an incident at Citi Field on April 13. He threw a 100.2 mph fastball near Michael Conforto’s head in Game 1 of a doubleheader, then hit him with a 100.1 mph fastball on the left arm.
The Mets jawed with Alvarado from the dugout. The most vocal was Smith, who Alvarado dismissively waved off and shushed with his finger.
Alvarado remembered. Who wouldn’t?
“I don’t think we forget those types of things, right?” Rhys Hoskins said. “If guys come at us, that’s stuff that we don’t forget. I don’t expect there to be any carryover into tomorrow, other than the fact that it’s the Phillies against the Mets.”
Smith also did not forget something Phillies manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday, when Bryce Harper got hit in the face and Didi Gregorius got hit in the ribs on back-to-back pitches in St. Louis. Alvarado hit Jeff McNeil to lead off the eighth on Friday.
“If you can’t throw the strikes, you shouldn’t be in the big leagues,” Smith said, echoing Girardi.
Mets right-hander Miguel Castro walked Hoskins on four pitches with one out in the eighth. The third and fourth pitches were way inside.
Hoskins stared down Castro for a moment before he started to jog to first base. Castro walked off the mound and followed him to first base.
“Nothing happened,” Hoskins said. “Obviously a couple balls were a little close. Nobody likes that. But it’s nothing, man. Emotions were high tonight obviously. We had just had the benches clear the inning before. That’s how these division games are. It doesn’t matter if it’s April or September. It seems like we always have these dogfight games, especially against the Mets. Just another one tonight.”
It juiced up the first game of a three-game series as the Phillies climbed back to .500 (13-13) to finish April in first place in the tightly packed National League East. Philadelphia played without Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Didi Gregorius and Jean Segura. The Phils scored their only two runs on a strikeout in the second, when pitcher Chase Anderson swung and missed at a 1-2 splitter from Mets right-hander Marcus Stroman. Mets catcher James McCann did not catch the ball, which hit home-plate umpire Jeremie Rehak’s leg and bounced toward the Phillies’ dugout.
The passed ball allowed Brad Miller to score from third and Andrew Knapp to score from second.
Elias Sports Bureau said it was the first time the Phillies scored two runs on a strikeout since the expansion era (since 1961).
It was the most exciting thing that happened until Alvarado struck out Smith in the eighth.
“He actually threw a pitch up that was ball four, but he got the benefit of the doubt, and then he made two more pitches I swung through,” Smith said. “But I'll see him down the line, so I'm not too worried about it."