The Mets broke the rules on Saturday night, and lost because of it
In the midst of a pennant race, if a team does not play by the rules, more often than not that team is going to lose.
And on Saturday, the Mets lost, in large measure because they did not play by the rules.
With Francisco Cervelli on second base and nobody out, Starlin Marte bounced a ball to Daniel Murphy.
But instead of Murphy simply stepping on the base to get the sure out, he decided to take a low percentage shot at throwing out Cervelli at third base.
The result was as expected. Cervelli was safe, so was Marte, and Terry Collins lost any shot of maneuvering around Cervelli’s leadoff double.
“I took a shot. It was the wrong play,” Murphy acknowledged. “That’s all I can say. It was the wrong play. It put us in a bad spot. It put [Sean Gilmartin] in a bad spot.”
The play goes as a fielders choice in the scorecard, but it was indeed a poor error in judgment by Murphy which broke a fundamental rule of the game.
The effort is certainly noted. Murphy is an aggressive player, and his mind was on doing whatever he could do to prevent the lead run from advancing a base. But in no way, shape or form is it the right play.
What’s worse, Murphy had absolutely no shot at getting Cervelli simply because he had to jump in the air to get the bouncing ball hit by Marte. Those moments in the air and coming down were just the difference in any play being close at third.
But it was that decision which prevented Collins from walking Chris Stewart with one out and going for a double play with Sean Rodriguez at the plate.
Instead, the mistake brought the infield in, Stewart singled, and the floodgate flew open on Gilmartin, Murphy and the Mets.
In fairness, it might not have mattered in the end anyway. The battle-tested Pirates find a way to win in that situation more often than not. The Mets could have done everything right, and the same thing might have happened.
But, that’s the way it should go down. The Pirates need to win in that situation while the Mets do everything in their power to prevent it.
Certainly, the Mets certainly don’t need to beat themselves, which is really what happened.
It’s even more important they put their best foot forward in front of a team they have not beaten in 2015, and must show they can.
All signs suggest the Mets will very likely have to go through one of Pittsburgh, St. Louis or Chicago to get to the last round of the fall tournament, teams they’ve gone a combined 3-16 against in 2015.
On a night full of a lot of positives, energy, determination and fight, it sure was a lonely way for Murphy and the Mets to go down.