It's pretty rare for someone like Terry Collins, who's been around the game for nearly 50 years as a player and a coach, to witness something on the field for the first time.
But only a day after Jordany Valdespin committed an error throwing the ball back to pitcher Jon Niese after a first-inning putout, the Mets manager took a deep breath and uttered a phrase he doesn't use so often for the second consecutive day: I've never seen that before.
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During the fifth inning of the Mets 4-3 walk-off victory against the Cubs yesterday, the Mets committed three errant throws and two errors, all on one play involving four infielders. The miscues led to two unearned runs and gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead.
"It was just one of those crazy plays," Collins said. "What are you going to say? We made two bad throws and it cost us two runs."
With runners on first and second and two outs in the fifth inning, the Cubs' Alfonso Soriano rocketed a ground ball toward the left side of the infield. Moving to his left, third baseman David Wright made a diving stop -- at the time it was thought to be run-saving -- and thus a sequence of events was set off that could only be characterized as a mad scramble.
Wright scooped up the ball, jumped to his feet and initially looked to make a putout at second base. But with the runner nearing the bag, he changed his mind and rushed a throw to first, sailing it over Daniel Murphy's head.
"The ball bounced right to me, so I was just going to spin and try and give it to ," Murphy said. "I wasn't sure how hard he was running from third. I never looked at home, I just spun and threw it."
Murphy corralled the ball and threw toward home plate, but his out-of-control throw sailed wide right of Buck and bounced all the way to the third-base side of foul territory. Running over, shortstop Omar Quintanilla then picked up the ball and threw an off-balance throw toward home to try to get the second baserunner, but it, too, sailed past Buck, allowing the second runner to score and putting Soriano on third base.
Pitcher Jeremy Hefner, who evaded any part of responsibility from Collins' perspective, heaped part of the blame on himself because of his inability to back up any of the throws.
"I should have been moving toward the third-base side behind home plate to try to prevent the extra throw from scoring the other run," Hefner said. "I didn't directly have an involvement there but it's definitely partly my fault."