“No way, NO WAY!”

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NEW YORK — In the bottom of the sixth inning of Game 5, Yoenis Cespedes fouled a ball off his knee with the bases loaded and nobody out. He was in obvious pain, unable to put any weight on his leg. Despite the clear opportunity to add to the Mets’ lead, Terry Collins let Cespedes stay in the game. He popped up weakly to the infield. In reality, Cespedes had no business being in that game at that point. Collins should’ve taken him out.

In the bottom of the 8th inning, Mets pitching coach Dan Warthan walked up to Matt Harvey in the dugout to tell him he was coming out of the game following eight shutout innings and nine strikeouts, up 2-0.

“No way. No way!” Harvey barked. He maybe said it four times, actually. Warthan, obviously not the final world on the matter, apparently told Harvey that it was manager Terry Collins’ call. So Harvey sought out Collins.

“No way!” Harvey said again.

Collins relented. Harvey stayed in. It was the second time in the space of two innings Collins deferred to his player. It was the second time in two innings that the decision ended up costing the Mets, as Harvey put two men on and the Royals rallied to tie it.

So much more went into that rally — a horrible throw by Lucas Duda that should’ve pegged Eric Hosmer at home plate before he could score the second run chief among them — but at bottom, Collins deferring to his players are why the game is tied 2-2 right now instead of over and on its way back to Kansas City.

I blame Collins for the Cespedes call, as he clearly was hobbled. I am more forgiving of the Harvey call. Harvey had been amazing all night. It’s got to be hard to disbelieve your pitcher when he so emphatically says he’s good to go. More cosmically, you don’t stand in the way of potential greatness, and Harvey was authoring greatness for eight innings on this night. We’re not paid to manage a baseball team and we want to see amazing things happen. Maybe leaving Harvey in was a bad baseball move, but I for one can’t say that I was saying that before the inning started so I won’t second guess Collins now.

But, as I post this, the game is in extra innings when it could’ve been over. We don’t know how it will end. If it ends with the Royals popping champagne, it will be a long, cold winter in New York in which people ask themselves whether Collins should’ve left Harvey in the game.

“No way!” I imagine a lot of them will say.

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.