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.