MILWAUKEE — For 11 innings Friday night, the Mets and Brewers staged an exhibition in confusion. Players fell down and ran the bases backward, seized perhaps by momentary brain freeze.
Someday, an unfortunate soul will unearth the game tape and confuse it with a four-hour loop of blocked punts. Perhaps they’ll splice it with the Benny Hill Theme Song, a fitting tribute to a seemingly unending stream of slapstick nonsense.
It was only appropriate, then, that after the Mets’ 2-1 victory, those involved in the bizarre deciding play were left at a loss when asked to explain how it had unfolded. “I still don’t know what the [heck] just happened,” said Matt Reynolds, who knocked in the winning run when shortstop Jonathan Villar failed to glove his soft liner.
With the bases loaded in the 11th, Reynolds thought he was the latest in a line of Mets to come up short in a critical situation. But when the sinking liner glanced off Villar’s glove, the bases suddenly turned into a wreck on the interstate.
Villar scrambled to retrieve the ball, then tossed to second for the force. Meanwhile, at third base, Asdrubal Cabrera retreated. But when the ball got away, he sprinted home. “I don’t want to get doubled off in that situation,” Cabrera said.
With the go-ahead run on the way home, second baseman Scooter Gennett added to the confusion, pursuing Kelly Johnson as he retreated to first base even though he already had been forced out. It likely was a moot point, though.
By the time the dust had settled, it appeared Cabrera was destined to score the winning run once Villar dropped the ball. And for the Mets, the details were gleefully irrelevant.
“All I know is that I hit a line drive to short and I wasn’t out,” Reynolds said. “It’s tough to explain right now. I’m trying to figure out what happened.”
On this mess of a night, there were moments of brilliance.
Matt Harvey allowed one run in six strong innings, adding to the growing body of evidence that he has emerged from his crisis of confidence. He walked two but struck out eight, another encouraging sign that he has regained his form.
“I was able to put them away when I needed to,” Harvey said.
In 20 innings in his last three starts, he has allowed only two runs. But despite his 0.90 ERA during that span, Harvey has only one win to show for it. That’s because the Mets have given him two runs of support.
Yoenis Cespedes hit his 16th homer, a game-tying shot in the sixth and his first since May 23. And former Met Kirk Nieuwenhuis robbed Johnson of a homer with a catch at the fence.
But Kevin Plawecki twice popped up with the bases loaded late in the game, extending the Mets’ misery. Brewers rightfielder Ramon Flores cost his team the potential winning run in the 10th when he slid off the bag at third base while trying to advance. Earlier, Johnson inexplicably made a baserunning gaffe, getting tagged out at second base on a grounder up the middle. In the dugout, manager Terry Collins heard a coach grumble: “Well, I can’t ever say I didn’t see that.”
Somehow, by the end, the Mets were laughing in their clubhouse. They emerged with a win they could barely explain.
“You just take the win and get ready for tomorrow,” Collins said. “You don’t try to analyze that one.”
Notes & quotes: Travis d’Arnaud (rotator cuff strain) will catch for the first time during his rehab assignment Saturday . . . Neil Walker was out of the starting lineup a day after being struck in the chest by a hard one-hopper.
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