Two outs, runners on first and second, and a pop-up to the right side of the infield. The infielder drifts back, gets under it, and...drops it.
This scene is all too familiar to Mets fans, as Luis Castillo dropped a pop-up in the ninth inning to cost his team the game against the Yankees last Friday. The reason this miscue ended the game as opposed to just tying it is because the runner on first, Mark Teixeira, ran hard as soon as contact was made.
Last night, a very similar situation occurred in Baltimore. In the top of the seventh, with two outs and the bases loaded, David Wright hit a pop-up just behind first base. It would have been an easier play for the second baseman, but instead, first baseman Aubrey Huff was the closest guy to the ball. He tried to make an over-the-shoulder catch, and it hit off his glove.
The difference between the two situations? Carlos Beltran, the runner on first for the Mets, didn't score on the play. It wasn't for a lack of speed—Beltran has great wheels and averages 30 steals a year, while Teixeira has stolen 13 bases his whole career—but rather a lack of hustle.
Replays showed that Beltran likely assumed it would be caught and coasted around second. David Wright also failed to reach second base, equally as bad, especially considering there was a throw home on the play.
The thing is, while watching Friday night's debacle, one of my first thoughts was that had the situation been reversed and the Mets were the beneficiary of the miscue, the game would not have been won right then and there. I was certain that whoever was on first would not have been hustling and the game wouldn't have ended. Sadly enough, most of the Mets fans I discussed this with agreed. I didn't think I'd get the chance to be proven right, especially so soon.
One could argue, it wasn't a big deal since the Mets won the game anyway, 6-4. But when the tying run moved into scoring position in the bottom of the ninth, it sure would have been nice to have that extra run.
Either way, it's little things like this that have been piling up for the Mets all season and have, at times, cost them games. Yesterday, I wrote about some of these miscues. Sure enough, another was made last night, though fortunately it went mostly unnoticed.
"Use two hands when fielding."
"Run everything out."
Along with "keep your eye on the ball," these are the first things you are taught when learning baseball. Things several of the Mets players apparently still don't get.