Generally, the risk is not worth the reward. The execution can be tricky. Too much can go wrong. For these reasons, Mets manager Terry Collins almost never calls for the hit and run.
But as the critical eighth inning unfolded on Wednesday night, the thought hit Collins as he watched from the dugout. There are times to make exceptions, and this was one of them.
"Take a shot," Collins said Wednesday night.
Because these are the Bizzaro Mets, with the best record in baseball at 12-3, the hit and run worked. In a 3-2 victory over the Braves, the daring play is what led to the Mets scoring the winning run while extending their winning streak to 10 games.
Lucas Duda put the Mets ahead for good by ripping an RBI single that scored Curtis Granderson from third base. But he only was there because Juan Lagares believed his own eyes when third base coach Tim Teufel flashed the little-used sign for a hit and run.
"I felt like a little surprised," said Lagares, who rolled a soft single through the hole left when Jace Peterson broke to cover second base. "But like I said, you have to be ready for that situation."
Collins initially signaled for a bunt. But when Jim Johnson missed with a ball, the manager changed his mind and opted for what he later called "the proverbial flyer."
Collins liked his chances.
The manager figured Johnson, a veteran reliever, might try to entice Lagares to swing over a splitter. But even if Lagares missed, Collins thought the pitch likely would be tough to handle. This gave Granderson a better chance to steal second base even with a swing and miss by Lagares.
But if Lagares made contact, Collins envisioned the reward. He sent in the sign for the hit and run. Teufel relayed it to Lagares. And it wouldn't be long until the whole thing played out as planned and led the Mets to their 10th straight win.
"With people moving, I thought it might find a hole," Collins said. "Which it did."
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