The Mets win a weird one

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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.

Dan Straily suspended five games, Don Mattingly one for throwing at Buster Posey

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Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that Marlins pitcher Dan Straily has been suspended five games and Don Mattingly one game for throwing intentionally at Giants catcher Buster Posey on Tuesday in San Francisco. Straily plans to appeal his suspension, so he will be allowed to take his normal turn through the rotation until that matter is settled.

Everything started on Monday, when the Marlins rallied in the ninth inning against closer Hunter Strickland. That included a game-tying single from Lewis Brinson, who pumped his fist and yelled in celebration. Strickland took exception, jawing at Brinson who was on third base when the right-hander was taken out of the game. Strickland went into the clubhouse and punched a door, breaking his hand.

The next day, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez hit Brinson with a fastball, which prompted warnings for both teams. Mattingly came out to argue with the umpires about the fairness of issuing warnings right then and there. On his way back to the dugout, Mattingly apparently said, “You’re next” to Posey, who was standing around home plate. The next inning, Straily hit Posey on the arm with a fastball, which led to immediate ejections for both him and Mattingly.

Neither Rodriguez nor Giants manager Bruce Bochy were reprimanded, which is ludicrous because it was plainly obvious Rodriguez was throwing at Brinson. But neither team had been issued warnings. Essentially, Major League Baseball is giving free reign for teams to get their revenge pitches in. Furthermore, Straily’s five-game suspension is hardly a deterrent for throwing at a hitter. The Marlins could simply give Straily an extra day of rest and it’s like he was never suspended at all.

Beanball wars are bad for baseball. It puts players at risk for obvious reasons. When players have to miss time due to avoidable injury, self-inflicted (in the case of Strickland) or not (if, for example, Posey had a hand or wrist broken from Straily’s pitch), the game suffers because it becomes an inferior product. That’s, of course, second behind the simple fact that throwing at a player is a tremendously childish way to handle a disagreement. When aimed intentionally at another human being, a baseball is a weapon. That’s especially true when it’s in the hands of someone who has been trained to throw anywhere from 90 to 100 MPH.

Commisioner Rob Manfred has spent a lot of time trying to make the game of baseball more appealing, such adding pitch clocks and limiting mound visits. He should spend some time addressing the throwing-at-batters problem.