This thing between Chase Utley and the Mets? It might not be over.
The table could be set for more drama between the teams in their final scheduled meeting on Sunday night after Noah Syndergaard made his bid to even the score with the Dodgers second baseman for breaking Ruben Tejada’s leg last October with a vicious slide into second during the NLDS.
The Mets righthander threw a 99-mph fastball behind Utley, a pitch that got him ejected and led to manager Terry Collins’ ejection. But the teams’ hackles are up and Utley suggested the animosity could bubble up again.
Asked if he thinks something will happen Sunday night, he replied, “Possibly, yeah.”
He said it during a three-minute interview with reporters that Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw watched and listened to as he stood at the next locker in the visitor’s clubhouse at Citi Field.
Syndergaard’s move completely backfired. He missed Utley. It cost the Mets his pitching. And though the sellout crowd was all over Utley after that, it brought the best out in him. His homer in the sixth broke a scoreless tie and his grand slam in the seventh broke open the game in the Dodgers’ 9-1 victory.
Asked if Syndergaard threw with intent, Utley replied, “Possibly, but I understand it.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said “an umpire has a right, that if he feels there was intent to throw at somebody, to eject him. That was his decision, and obviously when you’ve got a guy with plus command and a ball goes behind a lefthanded hitter — about a foot and a half behind him — there’s intent there.”
With the venom in the ballpark flowing his way, Utley felt good.
“I think a loud, energizing environment gets the best out of you. I think it’s fun,” he said. “We had a lot of games in Philadelphia in the playoffs and guys were into it and it kind of gets the adrenaline going a little bit. And it makes you kind of dig down deeper.”
Roberts said the umpires had discussed the matter between the Mets and Utley with both teams before the series but that no warnings were issued. He said there hadn’t been any warnings before their series in Los Angeles, either.
“We talked prior to the series with the umpires and we all agreed it was behind us and we all agreed we’d go out and try to play baseball and may the best team win,” Roberts said. “Was I surprised? Yes.”
But it doesn’t sound as if Utley was.
“You never know. Baseball is a crazy game,” he said. “You never know what to expect.”
Judging from his answers and Kershaw’s attention to the matter, the Mets might be smart to expect something Sunday.