Mets frustrated by final call: ‘It cost us a game’


NEW YORK — Manager Carlos Mendoza and the New York Mets were furious and flummoxed Wednesday night after the umpires ruled Cubs catcher Miguel Amaya had not blocked the plate while securing the final out of a 1-0 Chicago victory.

Trailing by a run in the ninth, the Mets had two runners in scoring position for Jeff McNeil. McNeil hit a fly ball down the line to medium-depth left field; with Pete Alonso attempting to score the tying run, Ian Happ and Nick Madrigal combined on a relay home to snag Alonso by an eyelash.

The Mets immediately challenged the call, confident that even if Alonso had been tagged before touching the plate, Amaya would be called for blocking the dish.

Replay umpire Derek Thomas in MLB’s New York office ruled that Amaya’s “initial setup was legal and he moved into the lane in reaction to the trajectory of the incoming throw,” according to a statement from MLB.

Mendoza’s frustration derived from Amaya’s positioning while he waited for the throw, with his left foot on the plate.

“Catchers are not allowed to have their foot in front of their plate, on top of the plate or straddling the plate without possession of the baseball,” Mendoza said. “It was very clear the guy had his left foot on top of the plate without the baseball.

“Clearly, they got the wrong call. … At the end of the day, it cost us a game.”

Rule 6.01 (i)(2) states: “Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score.”

MLB did issue a clarification last season (and another memo this spring) instructing catchers to stand in front of the plate in fair territory while waiting for the ball.

“Something that we practice not to do happened today, and we didn’t get the call,” New York catcher Omar Narváez said. “Everybody thought we’d get the call.”

“It’s not consistent,” Mendoza said, “and that’s what bothers me.”

This is a similar play from last year that was ruled blocking:

After the play Wednesday night, the Cubs said they handled the play properly and within the bounds of the rules.

“I was ready since I saw the fly ball. I set up my lane and immediately when I felt the ball in my glove, put my knees down,” Amaya said. “I gave him a lane. Then they put the review, (it was) exactly what I thought and that’s how it ended up.”

Alonso looked to have the throw beat anyway, but on his headfirst slide, his left hand popped into the air above home plate, giving Amaya just enough time to tag him.

“I hustled as hard as I could, made the best slide I could make,” Alonso said. “The umpire said I was out, so I was out.”

Had the run counted, the Mets would have tied the score at 1-1 and had J.D. Martinez still at second base with Brandon Nimmo coming to the plate.

New York found itself in another close, low-scoring game because its offense could do nothing of substance against Chicago starter Shōta Imanaga. The Mets mustered all of five hits in the game, and their bats have gone frigid over a 3-7 stretch.

Their offensive issues have likely been exacerbated by the strength of opposing starters. In this 10-game stretch, New York has run into a series of good pitchers: Tyler Glasnow looks like a Cy Young front-runner, Logan Webb and Sonny Gray were last year’s runners-up, and Imanaga on Wednesday lowered his ERA to 0.78 through his first six starts. At the same time, the Mets’ eight-run explosion last week in San Francisco came when the Giants had scratched their starter.

Nevertheless, in those last 10 games, New York is hitting .211 with a .267 on-base percentage and .334 slugging percentage. The Mets have bookended one solid 15-game stretch of offense (91 runs while going 12-3) with two smaller stretches of slumps (11 runs in their first five games and 26 runs in their last 10).

“It’s tough, but it’s the major leagues. It can be very difficult,” Alonso said. “Sometimes their guy throws the ball really well. Today, Shōta executed against pretty much everybody. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap.”

(Top photo: Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)

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