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.

The Nats want Trea Turner to attempt 75-80 stolen bases this year

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When it comes to cliche spring training stories, we talk a lot about “Best Shape of His Life.” Sometimes we talk about the “[Pitcher] has been working on a changeup” or “[Hitter] has made an adjustment to his swing” stories too. Then there’s the “we’re really going to focus on fundamentals” quotes managers love to give in February and March. They’re evergreens. 

Another one in that category is the “we’re going to run more” or “we plan to be aggressive on the base paths this year.” You hear that from at least one or two managers every spring. I imagine because, like the fundamentals one, it deals with something over which they have at least some moderate control. It’s a good quote.

We’re hearing it from Nats training camp this year with respect to one particularly speedy player in Trea Turner. From Mark Zuckerman at MASN:

Davey Martinez called Trea Turner into his office this week and told the speedy shortstop he wants him to attempt more stolen bases this season. How many? Let’s just say even the ultra-aggressive Turner was taken aback.

“Yeah, he gave me a number,” Turner said. “And I was like: ‘Wow, all right.’”

Martinez later revealed to assembled reporters that he thinks if Turner “attempts 75-80, we’ll be in great shape.”

Turner led the National League with 43 stolen bases on 52 attempts in 2018. The year before he attempted 54, which was his career high. Only only four players have attempted 80 or more stolen bases in the past ten years, so yes, 75-80 would be quite the escalation.

Which is not to say it’s silly. On a very basic level, yeah, if he is stealing bases more often, even without changing his basic approach, the Nats WILL be in great shape because it’ll likely mean that he’s on base more, and that’s good. If it’s merely a matter of him being more aggressive in the same number of times on base, well, let me know, but I’m not holding my breath.

I guess it’s nice to have goals, though.