New York Mets' Francisco Lindor 'doubts' Nationals' Steve Cishek intentionally hit him with pitch

WASHINGTON -- Francisco Lindor pulled down his lower lip. The inside of his mouth was bloodied, the outside cut and swollen. And despite all that, he said, he felt fortunate.

"I got really lucky," Lindor told ESPN on Friday night, hours after an 88 mph fastball from Steve Cishek struck the C-flap protruding from his helmet, ricocheted off his face and left behind a trail of blood. "It could have been a lot worse."

On the night after his fellow New York Mets star Pete Alonso endured a similar beaning from a Washington Nationals pitcher, Lindor wore a pitch to the face in the fifth inning, prompting a benches-clearing incident in the Mets' 7-3 victory at Nationals Park that pushed their record to 2-0 to start the season.

Mets manager Buck Showalter emerged from the dugout angry and screaming after Lindor was the fourth New York player hit in the first two games -- three of them on up-and-in pitches. Umpires ejected Cishek, crew chief Mark Carlson told a pool reporter, because he "continued to escalate the situation ... by coming toward the melee."

"When it hit him, it shocked me," Cishek said. "I don't think I've ever hit a lefty in the face or in the head before. I kind of put my head down. My first intention was to go over there and see if he's OK. When I was doing that, I realized it was a bad idea because I just kind of fired up the bench a little bit on the other side."

Lindor, the 28-year-old shortstop in his second season with the Mets, had squared to bunt, and Cishek said he was aiming to throw a high-and-in sinker. It simply went higher and further in than he planned. Lindor said the pitch might have cracked one of his molars. X-rays looking for broken bones were negative, and Lindor passed tests for a concussion.

When asked whether he thought the pitch was intentional, Lindor said, "I doubt it," and that he appreciated Cishek coming to apologize and shake his hand as he received medical attention.

"It was unintentional," Cishek said, "and I wish it never happened."

After spending a few moments face-down in the batter's box, Lindor stood and walked around amid the fracas, during which no punches were thrown. He was wearing a live microphone, and the Apple TV+ broadcast later played a sound bite of him saying to Showalter: "No, no, you ain't taking me out." Lindor wound up leaving the game in the fifth, replaced at shortstop by Luis Guillorme.

"I'm proud of being a New York Met," Lindor said. "I got hit. I was on the ground. I heard stuff. I look up. And my whole entire team is out there -- whole entire coaching staff is out there."

Of them, Showalter and third-base coach Joey Cora were the most zealous. Both remained in the Mets' dugout after the hit-by-pitch. Nationals third-base coach Gary DiSarcina was also ejected, Carlson said, "because of his aggressive behavior during the bench-clearing."

Lindor said he hopes to play in the Mets' game Saturday, as Alonso did the day after Mason Thompson hit him in the face with a 95 mph fastball and left similar marks, with cuts on the inside and outside of his lower lip. Mets catcher James McCann also was hit in the first game by an Andres Machado pitch, though he avoided getting struck in the face.

Showalter said after the first game he was "not happy" with the hit-by-pitches, and he reiterated his displeasure after the Lindor incident.

"It's pretty self-explanatory," Showalter said. "Got hit with another pitch. What do you want me to say?

"The umpires thought it was worthy of an ejection. I'll leave it at that."