PHILADELPHIA - Carlos Beltran went into last night's game against the Phillies with a singular purpose: Hit somebody, and preferably Chase Utley, the player responsible for the slide that demolished Ruben Tejada on Friday.
In the seventh inning, Beltran got his chance. He took off for second base on David Wright's grounder to third and tried to wipe out both Utley and Wilson Valdez - the former Met - with one aggressive slide. Beltran wound up splitting both players, sort of like bowling pins, and failed to make contact. Valdez, however, was unable to complete the double play.
"I wish I would have hit somebody," Beltran said. "The way Chase Utley slid into second base, I felt it was time for me to do the same thing he did - slide hard and try to hit somebody. In my career, I have never played dirty. But on that particular slide, I wanted to hit somebody. Unfortunately nobody was there, but they had to get out of the way."
Utley had to hop over Beltran, who slid late enough to carry him over the bag, and Valdez's momentum swept him past the base and toward rightfield. Even though Beltran missed, the message got through. The Mets followed with five runs that same inning, including a three-run double by Lucas Duda, to beat the Phillies, 5-2.
The Mets, who snapped a five-game losing skid, probably figured the best revenge was to end the Phillies' 11-game winning streak and keep their magic number at two for winning the National League East title. Jerry Manuel earned the 700th win of his managerial career and No. 200 with the Mets. That wound up being a footnote to Beltran's action against Utley.
"There was an issue saying that the way he played is hard, not dirty," Beltran said. "We felt different. Our plan today was every time we got on first base, we wanted to break up the double play. And that's what I did.
"To me, I think [Utley] did cross the line. Not only on that play, he has done things in the past like blocking bases. It's OK to play hard. But once you try to hurt somebody, that's not fun. He's such a good player - too good to be doing that. But I guess that's the way he plays. But at the same time, we can play like that too."
Utley was unapologetic Saturday when told of the Mets' harsh reaction to his slide.
"I have never, ever attempted to break up a double play with the intent to injure someone," Utley told MLB.com. "I understand what it's like to be taken out. I've been kicked, kneed, elbowed, spiked and even flipped upside down. And as much as I might not have liked it at the time, I understand that it's all part of being a major league second baseman. Second basemen have had to deal with this for over 100 years. And with that said, we as a team play the game hard and play it to win. That is not going to change."
Beltran has been playing on two bad knees, but that didn't prevent him from making a statement that he felt was necessary. He said, "Once you pass the bag by four or five feet, your intentions are not to break up the double play - your intention is to hit somebody. If he said that was a good play, to me, it's not."
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