Francisco Lindor, Jeff McNeil blame ‘rat’ debate for frantic Mets scene

From the team that gave birth to a fictional hitting coach named Donnie Stevenson came a dugout dustup pinned to a supposed debate over a rat versus a raccoon. In the middle of the seventh inning...

From the team that gave birth to a fictional hitting coach named Donnie Stevenson came a dugout dustup pinned to a supposed debate over a rat versus a raccoon.

In the middle of the seventh inning of a wild 5-4 walk-off Mets win over the Diamondbacks on Friday night at Citi Field, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil appeared to be involved in some commotion in the tunnel connecting the dugout and clubhouse that led to multiple teammates racing down there.

But after the Mets came back to win in 10 innings — keyed by a game-tying, two-run home run by the slumping Lindor and capped off by a Patrick Mazeika game-winning dribbler — Lindor was all smiles and laughs as he tried to brush off whatever actually happened in the tunnel.

“It was funny, ’cause I told [McNeil], ‘Hey, I’ve never seen a New York rat,’” Lindor said through chuckles. “So we went down sprinting, about to go see a New York rat, and he got mad at me. He’s like, ‘No, it’s not a New York rat, it’s a raccoon.’ I’m like, ‘Hell no! It’s a damn rat.’ Crazy, because we were going back and forth debating if it was a rat or a raccoon. Crazy, man.”

McNeil stuck to Lindor’s story about the rat-raccoon debate — adding that he actually thought it was a possum — and deflected when told there was doubt about that story.

Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil
Getty Images, Corey Sipkin

“They can believe whatever they want,” McNeil said. “We’re a tight-knit group. Everybody loves everybody.”

Manager Luis Rojas said he had not heard that story, but by the time he got to the tunnel, the situation had resolved itself.

“The one thing I ran into was Francisco saying, ‘Let’s go play ball. Let’s go play ball,” Rojas said.

In the top of the seventh inning, Nick Ahmed had hit an infield single on a ground ball between McNeil and Lindor. Both appeared to hesitate going for the ball before Lindor fielded it, but his throw was too late.

Lindor said he was mad on the field because he didn’t make the play, but stuck to his rat vs. raccoon story and insisted his relationship with McNeil was fine when asked about it postgame.

“I can bring him out and probably give him a kiss on the cheek if you want,” Lindor said.

Rojas referred to the Mets as a family and said that “everything that happens on a daily basis in a family at home happens here.”

Regardless, the chaos that had ensnared the Mets on their road trip, during which their hitting coaches were stunningly fired shortly after a game in St. Louis, followed them home.

Mazeika, the last man left on the bench, played hero in the 10th inning in his second career plate appearances with a dribbler between the mound and first base that scored Pete Alonso from third for the walk-off victory.

The Mets came all the way back from facing a 4-0 deficit after David Peterson couldn’t survive the second inning. A parade of relievers — Robert Gsellman, Tommy Hunter, Jacob Barnes and Miguel Castro — helped keep the game within reach and got the ball to Edwin Diaz in the ninth. Meanwhile, Michael Conforto and Jonathan Villar chipped in RBI singles before Lindor came through with a two-run shot to tie the game in the seventh inning — only minutes after the dugout snafu.

Lindor, who had just broken an 0-for-26 slump on Thursday, pumped his chest as he ran down the first base line. The crowd of 7,662, who had greeted him with a smattering of boos the two times he had been retired earlier in the game, showered him with love while he rounded the bases.

“That was BIG,” owner Steve Cohen tweeted about his $341 million shortstop’s game-tying homer.

Diaz pitched a scoreless ninth and Aaron Loup handled a 1-2-3 10th, turning it over to the Mets offense to win it in the bottom of the 10th.

This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Greg Joyce

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