Marlins' Marcell Ozuna nails pair at plate in demoralizing Mets loss
MIAMI - Red-faced, the hairs on his head standing on end, general manager Sandy Alderson anxiously paced the halls of the visiting clubhouse Friday night, still furious about what had just transpired on the field.
In a 3-2 loss to the Marlins, Alderson had watched two runners cut down at home plate, one in each of the last two innings, both representing the tying run, both wiped out on brilliant throws from strong-armed leftfielder Marcell Ozuna.
But it was the eighth inning play, in which David Wright was caught by at least 10 feet, that left the Mets fuming. They contended that Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia had blocked the plate before he had the ball, a violation of the league's new rules outlawing plate collisions. The call on the field was ultimately confirmed by video review.
Nevertheless, even though Collins admitted that Wright was out by a wide margin, he maintained that Saltalamacchia had not given runner a lane.
"The replay showed he was out," Collins said. "But rules are rules."
The clarity of those rules had already come into question earlier in the day, when Major League Baseball admitted that it mistakenly overturned a play at the plate in Wednesday's Pirates-Reds game. Hours later, the Mets found themselves in the middle of the latest controversy surrounding Rule 7.13.
Said Wright: "It's just kind of a confusing thing in general."
Alderson, chairman of baseball's playing rules committee, helped craft the initial rules governing plate collisions. But the original guidelines have since been replaced by rules agreed upon by the players' union and Major League Baseball.
So, Alderson found himself just as confused about the ruling, enough that he already had reached out to the league about it just minutes after the Mets came off the field.
"I can't really comment on the plays tonight because it would compromise my leaguewide position as chairman of the playing rules committee," Alderson said. "I do have a couple of thoughts as general manager of the Mets that I can't really share tonight."
In one way, he already had. Alderson emerged from the video replay room, where he had viewed the play again, and slipped into Collins' office, seemingly to vent. At one point, Alderson raised his voice, uttering an expletive that could be heard on the opposite end of the clubhouse. "They've been [expletive] involved, that's the problem," Alderson yelled.
Later on, he declined to offer context, saying "everybody was a little frustrated at the end of the game, including myself, for a variety of reasons. So, I'll leave it at that."
Of course, there were plenty of reasons for frustration.
There was the lagging Mets offense, which wilted against the Marlins' Henderson Alvarez, who tossed 61/3 scoreless innings to lower his ERA against the Mets this season to 0.84. There was the throwing error by catcher Anthony Recker, which helped the Marlins open a 3-0 lead.
And then there was the brilliant play that ended the game. Chris Young lifted a fly ball to leftfield, deep enough for Kirk Nieuwenhuis to tag up with the tying run. But Ozuna uncorked a perfect throw, nabbing Nieuwenhuis by inches, which replay also confirmed.
"I thought right when CY hit it, tie game," said Nieuwenuis, who had thought wrong.