Though Bartolo Colon had plunked only three batters all season, few blinked Thursday night when the Mets righthander hit the Nationals' Ian Desmond. Even though it came after a two-run homer by Adam LaRoche, nobody's perfect, not even a pitcher with Colon's reputation for command.
Colon's next errant pitch, however, did not go unnoticed.
Immediately after surrendering a fourth-inning homer to Anthony Rendon, a two-run blast that helped power the Nationals' 6-2 victory over the Mets, Colon drilled Jayson Werth with a fastball near the elbow.
Plate umpire John Tumpane tossed Colon and ejected Terry Collins moments later.
Through a translator, Colon said he was "surprised" by the ejection because he "didn't do anything wrong." But even Collins noted that the errant pitch could be seen as nefarious. "Certainly you've got to be careful after you're getting banged around and you drill somebody," he said. "An umpire can interpret that it's intentional."
Wrapped up in putting the finishing touches on the NL East crown, the Nationals (83-62) didn't bother to retaliate.
Daniel Murphy left the game in the eighth when he got drilled in the wrist by a fastball by Matt Thornton. But he said he saw no intent.
Though LaRoche and Nationals manager Matt Williams noted Colon's reputation for control, Werth wasn't interested in perpetuating the idea of hostilities. "We've got a lot at stake this time of year," he said. "We don't have time for [nonsense]."
The Mets (71-76) entered play with dim hopes of a miraculous playoff run after winning four straight. They were just 51/2 games out of a wild-card berth -- long odds but not impossible.
The Nationals have won 26 of the last 30 meetings between the teams, including 12 straight at Citi Field. It's the longest winning streak by an opposing team in the Mets' home park in franchise history.
Already outgunned, the Mets made things harder on themselves with bonehead plays.
Dilson Herrera neglected to cover second on a soft grounder back to the mound, costing the Mets an easy out. Travis d'Arnaud lost track of the numbers of outs in the third, killing a rally by running into an out. Later, he was pulled from the game with a lingering wrist injury, though neither he nor Collins would go into more detail.
Down five runs, Eric Young Jr. was thrown out at third trying to advance two bases on an errant pickoff throw. He had been prompted by third-base coach Tim Teufel.
The Mets fell behind 6-0 when Colon was battered for six runs and seven hits in three innings-plus. But more remarkable was his lack of control.
Colon has hit only 51 batters in his 17-year career. He recalled only one other instance of being tossed for hitting someone. In a 2003 game, White Sox teammate Magglio Ordoñez was drilled in the back by Orioles reliever Jorge Julio. The next inning, Colon plunked Jerry Hairston Jr. in the left arm. It was nothing, he said, like the situation he faced Thursday night with Werth.
"That was a two-seam fastball that moved inside to him," Colon said. "We're trying to pitch him inside. If it had been a four-seamer, it would have been a different story."