NEW YORK -- For 4 1/3 innings here Saturday night, the New York Mets became the latest in a succession of teams to knock around Jake Arrieta.
And after the game, the Phillies pitcher threatened to hit back.
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Arrieta lobbed another dud in his last start before the all-star break, allowing six runs on 11 hits, displaying an utter lack of command and failing to survive the fifth inning in a 6-5 loss at Citi Field. It was the continuation of a seven-start stretch in which Arrieta has posted a 6.63 ERA.
But Arrieta’s postgame comments raised even more questions. He made cryptic references to potentially not being healthy and responded to Todd Frazier’s apparent objection to getting hit by a change-up in the fifth inning by saying he would “put a dent in his skull” if the Mets third baseman wanted to take up the matter with him directly.
Just another night in a frustrating season for the one-time ace.
"I labored physically," said Arrieta, who blew early 3-1 and 4-2 leads and left after giving up a three-run double to Mets backup catcher Tomas Nido that put the Phillies in a 6-4 hole. "I wasn't able to put the ball where I wanted to. It's been that way for a few weeks. Just physically not in a great spot."
Asked directly if he was injured, Arrieta paused for several seconds and let out a deep sigh.
"Overall I feel all right," he said. "But we'll see. We'll see in the next couple of days."
Does Arrieta have an exam scheduled?
"No," he said. "I think we'll have a better idea over the next couple of days where I'm at."
Arrieta cited his lack of command as a symptom of whatever ails him. His control left him in the fifth inning -- and nearly touched off a dugouts-clearing brawl.
Frazier, who got hit by a pitch Friday night from Phillies starter Vince Velasquez, jawed at Arrieta all the way down the first-base line after being struck by an 0-1 change-up. The pitch was clearly unintentional, but that mattered little to Frazier, who continued to holler when he got to first base and was ejected by home-plate umpire Tripp Gibson.
"He didn't say [stuff] to me," Arrieta said. "[He was] talking to the umpire. I'm 25 feet away. Frazier's not happy about it, he can come see me and I'll put a dent in his skull."
Frazier didn't make himself available to reporters after the game.
Gibson issued warnings to both dugouts, a curious move considering he said later that he didn’t believe Arrieta intended to hit Frazier. And when Arrieta hit Amed Rosario with another change-up two batters later, Gibson chose not to throw him out of the game, prompting Mets manager Mickey Callaway to argue for Arrieta’s ejection and get booted himself.
"The way it all went down, the way the emotions were running, I decided I needed to issue warnings because it was unintentional, in my judgment," Gibson told a pool reporter. "I deemed all of [the hit by pitches] unintentional."
Tensions flared between the teams in April when the Mets threw at Rhys Hoskins' head. Brian Gorman, the umpire crew chief for this series, also worked that one.
"Everyone's aware of things that happened in the past," Gibson said. "You let the game play out, and you have to react as necessary. We try to treat every day as a new day. If a situation arises, then we handle it."
Arrieta became only the second pitcher ever to allow at least 11 hits and hit at least three batters in less than five innings. The other, Carl Doyle of the Brooklyn Dodgers, gave up 14 runs in a 23-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on June 8, 1940.
OK, so it wasn’t that bad for Arrieta. But his last seven starts have been brutal. Beginning on May 31 at Dodger Stadium, he has given up 29 runs on 53 hits in 38 innings. In 18 starts overall this season, he has a 4.67 earned-run average that ranks 40th among 43 National League pitchers with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title.
"We all have work to do. Certainly, Jake has some work to do as well," manager Gabe Kapler said. "He's working on his craft all the time. He's looking for ways to get stronger down the stretch. We'll be leaning heavily on him. That was true at the beginning of the season and it's true now as well."
Unless Arrieta is injured.