DETROIT — Terry Collins’ voice was barely above a whisper: “Because I didn’t think about it.”
That was the Mets manager’s reply Saturday night when he was asked why he didn’t issue a replay challenge to the last out of the game in a devastating 6-5 loss to the Tigers at Comerica Park.
The Mets, who once trailed 6-1, had a chance to tie the score when Travis d’Arnaud singled to right off Francisco Rod riguez with runners on first and second and two outs in the ninth.
Jay Bruce tried to score from second and was thrown out on a bang-bang play at the plate by rightfielder J.D. Martinez.
Replay challenges are free. Collins did not challenge either the result (that Bruce was out) or that catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia had blocked the plate. Neither appeared to be the case, but there was absolutely nothing to lose by asking the umpires to review the play.
Instead, after getting the word from the Mets’ video coordinator that he thought Bruce was out, Collins quickly turned and walked into the tunnel leading to the clubhouse as the Tigers celebrated on the field before a sellout crowd of 41,053.
“We had it checked, we had it looked at, and our video guy said that he was out,” Collins said. “So we didn’t challenge it. That might be one of those plays where you might as well take the chance and see what happens. All they’re going to do is not overrule it or let it stand. That’s the worst-case scenario.”
Saltalamacchia appeared to get the perfect throw in time to set his left foot in front of the plate and tag Bruce as he slid in. The evidence to overturn the call may not have existed, but replay officials have been known to reverse calls that appear to be correct, and the blocking-the-plate rule is not completely understood by anyone in the game.
Which means it was worth a shot. Collins seemed to realize that in the immediate aftermath of the game, perhaps with the assistance of general manager Sandy Alderson, who is on this trip and did not appear pleased one bit.
“Plain and simple,” Collins said. “He [the video coordinator] said he’s out, so I just said, ‘OK.’ ”
What’s even more crushing to the Mets is that d’Arnaud’s single was something they have been praying for all season: a clutch hit. It came after the Mets had gone 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position in losing the first two games of this series, including 1-for-11 Saturday night before d’Arnaud’s single.
So they finished the game 2-for-12. And lost.
“We had some very, very good at-bats at the end of the game,” Collins said. “Tough way to end . . . I thought for sure he was going to make it, and Martinez just made a great throw.”
Said Bruce: “I tried my best to slide into home plate and they called me out. I was just focused on trying to get there . . . It all happened too fast for me. I was focused on trying to be safe and I didn’t have time to dissect actually what happened at the plate. All that stuff’s so bang-bang, hit or miss, it’s tough to know when you are the runner.”
Asked if he thought it should have been challenged, Bruce said: “I’ve seen it challenged before. Obviously, that’s not my decision at all . . . It’s a judgment call there, and I wasn’t part of the judgment.”
The Mets fell behind 6-1 as Logan Verrett (3-7), in perhaps his last start, was charged with six runs in 3 2⁄3 innings. Collins would not commit to Verrett taking his next turn in the rotation.
The Mets rallied with two runs each in the fifth and seventh, the latter two with the help of a pair of Tigers errors.
Bruce and Curtis Granderson had solo home runs for the Mets. Miguel Cabrera drove in three runs for the Tigers.