NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Whether he wanted revenge or not, Noah Syndergaard never got it Saturday night. What he did get was ejected in the top of the third inning.
In a scene that seemed inevitable since October, the young New York Mets ace was tossed for throwing a 99 mph fastball behind Chase Utley of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“It was just a pitch that got away from me. That’s all I got,” Syndergaard said.
Much to the chagrin of exasperated Mets fans, Utley later hit a solo home run and a grand slam, powering the Dodgers to a 9-1 victory.
“I’m not surprised. He’s always done big damage to us,” New York manager Terry Collins said. “He’s that kind of a player.”
The stoic Utley is playing at Citi Field this weekend for the first time since his late takeout slide in last year’s playoffs broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada.
The Mets — and their fans — were incensed by the aggressive slide, which led to a change in baseball rules this season designed to protect infielders. But the team had not tried to retaliate until Saturday night; Utley played all four games without incident May 9-12 when the clubs split a series in Los Angeles.
“I’ve said many times that I’ve thought our revenge was beating them that series last year,” Mets captain David Wright said. “As far as closure, for me it’s always been, take care of business by going out there and winning on the baseball field. I think that speaks volumes.”
With one out and nobody on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Syndergaard’s first pitch to Utley sailed behind the second baseman’s back by a considerable margin.
Plate umpire Adam Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard, prompting an irate Collins to come storming out of the dugout, but no trouble ensued between the teams.
“I can understand why he did what he did. I still think a warning would have been better,” Syndergaard said.
Collins also was ejected after screaming at Hamari and pointing in his face during an animated argument. The manager was finally escorted back toward the dugout by another umpire.
“My argument was, nobody got hit,” Collins said. “There was a time when, in this game, where you had a shot, and nothing happened. The ball went to the backstop. So that was kind of my argument.”
After the pitch, Utley raised one hand slightly in the direction of the Dodgers bench to keep teammates calm.
Asked if he thought Syndergaard delivered a purpose pitch, Utley said: “Possibly, but I understand it.”
Syndergaard waited near the mound with teammates for some time, then walked calmly to the Mets’ dugout without showing any emotion as the crowd cheered him.
“The ruling was that he intentionally threw at the batter,” crew chief Tom Hallion told a pool reporter. “We can either warn or eject. And with what happened in that situation, we felt the ejection was warranted.”
Hallion said no warnings were issued before the series.
“We take each game individually,” he said when asked if last year’s playoff series played a role in the ejection. “We have to make a snap decision. We can’t think about, OK, well this guy did this or he did that in Game 6 of whatever. We don’t have enough time to think that way. We make a decision on what happens in the game.”
Collins said he had never before seen a pitcher get ejected without a warning. He’s a little concerned Syndergaard might get suspended.
Logan Verrett (3-2) entered for the Mets and, with a vocal contingent in the sellout crowd of 42,227 urging him to plunk Utley, eventually threw a called third strike past him. But then Utley homered on Verrett’s first pitch of the sixth for a 1-0 lead.
Booed all night, Utley added his sixth career slam off Hansel Robles in the seventh, making it 6-0 with his 38th homer against the Mets. The only active player with more is former Philadelphia teammate Ryan Howard (45).
It was Utley’s 22nd multihomer game and first since April 14 last year — against the Mets. Nine of his 19 RBIs this season have come in the first two games of this series.
Adrian Gonzalez homered and had four hits for the Dodgers, who spoiled the Mets’ 30th anniversary celebration of their 1986 World Series championship. Howie Kendrick and Corey Seager also connected, all after Syndergaard was gone.
Kenta Maeda (4-3) shook off an early line drive that hit him on the pitching hand and threw five shutout innings.
Mets INF Wilmer Flores (hamstring) went 1 for 2 with a sacrifice fly in his fifth rehab game for Double-A Binghamton. Before the game, Collins said it was reasonable to think Flores could come off the disabled list Sunday.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (7-1, 1.48 ERA) starts the series finale Sunday night against 43-year-old Bartolo Colon (4-3, 3.44). Kershaw is 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 10 starts vs. the Mets.
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