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The Mets win a weird one

Apr 21, 2012, 7:44 PM EDT

Mets Giants Getty Getty Images

The Mets beat the Giants 5-4 this afternoon, but whether anyone actually deserved to win, well, that’s up for debate.

The Mets certainly appeared to be in control entering the top of the ninth, as Frank Francisco was handed a 4-1 lead after Mike Pelfrey tossed eight innings of one-run ball. However, Francisco was pulled in favor of Tim Brydak after letting three out of the first four batters reach base, including an RBI single by Emmanuel Burriss. After Byrdak struck out Hector Sanchez, Collins again made a switch, this time bringing in Jon Rauch to face pinch-hitter Brandon Belt. And that’s when things got nuts.

Belt hit what appeared to be a game-ending pop-up to shallow center field, but it fell for a game-tying two-run double after Ruben Tejada couldn’t track it down and rookie center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis overran it. Yes, it was truly “Luis Castillo: Part Deux,” though with a slightly higher degree of difficulty. Rauch then struck out Angel Pagan to end the inning and keep the game tied.

Things only got weirder from there, though, as Belt stayed in the game at first base to begin the bottom of the ninth and Aubrey Huff played second base for the first time in his major league career with Ryan Theriot unavailable due to illness. That’s right, Aubrey Huff played second base. In a real game. What could possibly go wrong? It didn’t take too long to find out.

Lucas Duda reached on a leadoff single against Clay Hensley before being replaced by pinch-runner Scott Hairston. He was moved over to second on a sacrifice by Josh Thole before Ruben Tejada drew a walk. Justin Turner came up as a pinch-hitter against Jeremy Affeldt and hit what looked like a tailor-made inning-ending double-play ball to Burriss, who was at shortstop. The only problem was that there was nobody home at second base because Huff broke toward first base for some reason. Old habits, I guess. Turner ended up beating it out for an infield single to load the bases.

The wackiness hit its crescendo when Nieuwenhuis hit a grounder to Belt at first base. Belt quickly threw to home for the force out, but Buster Posey made an errant throw back to Affeldt at first base which allowed Tejada to come around and score the winning run. Posey’s throw likely would have been on target, but he was given a bit of a nudge when Hairston stuck out his leg on a slide into home plate. Posey tried to argue interference, but it fell on deaf ears from home plate umpire Doug Eddings. And so, it was a walk off win for the Mets, though in a bit more subdued fashion that you’d normally see.

My hope is that the footage of this inning can at least have some value to future generations, perhaps to serve as an example of what not to do in a baseball game.

  1. jonirocit - Apr 21, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    It was ugly but the umpires were even uglier. Wow three missed calls at first and Hairston tried to break poseys other ankle . It was interference posey was 4ft infront of home plate

    • gammagammahey - Apr 21, 2012 at 8:20 PM

      It’s no different than breaking up a double play at second base. As long as the runner is within arms length of the base, he can slide in wide of the bag.

  2. paulydefense - Apr 21, 2012 at 7:59 PM

    There was no need for Hairston to slide. It was obvious what he was trying to do.

    • jwbiii - Apr 21, 2012 at 8:25 PM

      And takeout slides at 2B aren’t obvious?

  3. thomas2727 - Apr 21, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    I see the play at the plate to end this game different than a double play turn at 2nd base.

    At 2nd base the shortstop or 2nd baseman are facing the runner when they make the throw to first base giving them a chance to react for the sake of protection.

    The play at home the catcher has to turn away from the runner advancing from 3rd base and throw to 1st base. If you watch the replay Posey was facing 1st base when Hairston slid and stuck he leg out to clip Posey’s leg. In my opinion Hairston did not even start his slide until after Posey had completed the force out at home.

    Posey does bear some responsibility and making a judgement call to make the throw to 1st base under duress.

    We have all witnessed catchers in similar situations be happy with the out at home and not attempt the additional throw to 1st base.

    I just hate to see a player with his head turned away from the play get tripped/kicked in the leg.

    I guess the old head on a swivel rule applies here.

    • iclight79 - Apr 22, 2012 at 6:10 AM

      Umm, second base is one of the most dangerous positions to play because of the double play. A second baseman is turned away from the runner sliding into him on a double play.

  4. henson58 - Apr 21, 2012 at 9:00 PM

    That sounds like an ending to a tee ball game

  5. plmathfoto - Apr 21, 2012 at 9:44 PM

    Even the Giants’ announcers said it was a totally legal play on the last one.

    Not sure if you saw earlier in the game, the Mets had 1st & 2nd and no one out, and a guy got picked off first by Posey, then the other guy got thrown out trying to steal third, just to add to the hilarity of this game.

  6. rjheinz - Apr 21, 2012 at 10:59 PM

    This is a “been here, done that” as a Mets fan. The only difference this time is that we came out on top! Woo!

  7. nogoodtomedead - Apr 21, 2012 at 11:54 PM

    The play at home was legal- but there should be a rule change that when a catcher is in fair territory that he can’t be touched. They should be able to step away from he plate and not worry about being blindsided.

    And legal or not- Hairston needs to be plunked tomorrow. Message needs to be sent to the league that shots at Posey’s ankles aren’t going to be tolerated- especially when the runner seems to go out of his way to do it.

  8. afirst916 - Apr 22, 2012 at 6:04 PM

    It was a legal play, people needs to stop getting emotional about it. Hairston did his job and it won his team the game. Breaking up plays is a part of baseball, it happens on a daily basis. This is coming from a giants fan. I didn’t like the play either but it is what it is.

  9. chillidavis - Apr 22, 2012 at 7:53 PM

    The Posey play was legal and the Giants were lucky to even be in the game at that point. But, man, I’m tired of the unimaginative and stiff managing of Bochy. He nearly lost this thing single handed from the moment he made out the lineup card until he failed to pinch hit for Vogelsong and then put stone hands Huff at second. He’s been lucky to have a magical pitching staff to keep him (barely) afloat.

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