Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Josh Rojas admitted a flare-up with New York Mets starter Marcus Stroman on Tuesday night was planned to fire up his teammates.
Because of what developed after the verbal exchange between the two, Arizona has a chance to win a series for the first time since winning three of four games from the Colorado Rockies from April 29 through May 2.
The rubber match of the three-game series with the Mets is Wednesday afternoon.
The Diamondbacks, who were 5-24 in May, were trailing 4-0 Tuesday with only four hits going to the sixth inning after Rojas popped out to third base.
As Stroman was walking toward the dugout and Rojas ran toward first base, words were exchanged and the players had to be separated by their teammates.
No physical altercations took place and no ejections were made.
Rojas was satisfied with what transpired from the incident.
“I was just trying to get the guys going,” Rojas said. “He was out there, throwing well. I was trying to mix things up there and stir the pot a little bit and get us going.”
In Arizona’s next at-bats, Pavin Smith drilled a three-run home run that landed 435 feet toward right field to cut the lead to 4-3.
Rojas’ RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth forced extra innings.
After the Mets rallied for a run in the top half of the 10th, Josh Reddick hit a walk-off two-run double in the bottom of the inning that barely touched the foul line in right field.
The Diamondbacks, who have lost 14 of their last 16 games, celebrated as if it were a playoff win.
“We know what we’ve been walking through over the past couple of weeks,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “It has not been easy. But these guys, when they needed to, dug down as deep as they possibly could.
“They have had several points in time with their backs against the wall. They came out and did their job.”
New York, which had its five-game winning streak snapped, did not want to admit that Rojas successfully woke up his team with the exchange with Stroman.
“I’m not commenting on any of that,” Stroman said.
Arizona will start left-hander Madison Bumgarner, who has never lost to the Mets, in the series finale.
Bumgarner is 6-0 with a 1.86 ERA in nine starts spanning 63 innings against New York.
Bumgarner (4-5, 5.15 ERA) has struggled in his last two starts, allowing 14 runs (11 earned) over 10 innings in losses to the Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals. Before those outings, Bumgarner had a 1.32 ERA in his previous six starts.
New York will start left-hander David Peterson (1-4, 4.91), who is having a difficult second year in the major leagues. He has yet to throw more than 93 pitches in his nine starts, and lefties are hitting .341 against him.
In his lone career start against the Diamondbacks on May 7, Peterson lasted only 1 2/3 innings, allowing three hits and three runs in a game New York won 5-4 in 10 innings.
–Field Level Media