Thursday, August 22, 2019

Callaway On Mets' Latest Comeback: "Anything can happen if you touch the ball"

Michael Conforto at bat in the 10th inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets' latest comeback victory at Citi Field came on Wednesday night when J.D. Davis got a game-winning hit down the left field line, and they walked off with a 4-3 win over the Cleveland Indians.

While Davis' hit got all the headlines, and for good reason, as it was his first walk-off hit and he continues to be the Mets' hottest hitter, with a .361 average (22-61) in August, with five home runs and 15 RBI. In six of the last seven games in which he has an RBI, that RBI has either given the Mets or lead or tied the game.

The way that inning built up to that moment proved that their offense is "relentless," as Mets Manager Mickey Callaway termed it on Tuesday night.

Entering the bottom of the 10th inning, the Mets were trailing by a run after Cleveland took the lead in the top half of the frame on a solo home run from Carlos Santana

Cleveland closer Brad Hand was on, and the Mets had their top of the order, starting with Amed Rosario, ready to face him.

Rosario, who has reached base safely in 32 of his last 35 games, got the inning started with a double.

Next up was Joe Panik, who executed a perfect bunt to move Rosario into third base.

Pete Alonso was set to come up, and the crowd really got loud in anticipation as he is still in search of his franchise record-tying home run, but he was intentionally walked.

This gave the Mets runners at first and third with one out for Michael Conforto.

This set up a lefty-on-lefty matchup with Hand on the mound and Conforto, who is hitting .281 with 11 home runs and 32 RBI since the All-Star Break.

Conforto grounded one to first base, Carlos Santana fielded it cleanly and fired to second - where shortstop Francisco Lindor was covering - to get Alonso for the second out of the inning.

While it appeared that Lindor had plenty of time to make the throw back to first to complete the game-ending double play, he had to hold onto the ball, as neither Hand nor second baseman Jason Kipnis covered first.

Rosario came in to score the tying run on the play, and Conforto was  on at first with two out.

Callaway, during his pregame press conference on Thursday afternoon, was asked when he knew Conforto would beat it out, and he said, "Right when Santana set his feet to go to second, I knew we had it. In that situation, that's one of the toughest plays in baseball to turn that 3-6-1 double play. When you have a man on third - that's one of the reasons we bunted him over to third.

"We knew they were going to walk Alonso either way - if they got Panik out or not - and all you have to do is touch the ball. As we saw early in the day, they were running on contact, and they hit a ground ball to third, and got a run, so you get that runner to third, and anything can happen if you touch the ball, and Conforto touched the ball, and we scored the tying run."

Wilson Ramos, who had caught ten innings to that point, was up next, and he hit a dribbler in front of the plate that rolled down the third base line. Hand took a while to get to it, and he knew he had to hurry the throw over to first, which was low, and Ramos had already crossed first by the time it arrived.

"Well, Ramos, you never know," Callaway said. "He turned it on there, I think he ran like a 4.6 to first, was just flying, so that was really good to see.

"You know, that was a tough play. The throw was a bit off-line. When a pitcher fields a ball down the third base line - especially a lefty - has to spin and throw, that's a tough play. 

What was lost in that play as well was the great job Santana did to be able to hold onto it after the low hop, or else Conforto would have raced around and the Mets would have won it there. 

Davis then engaged in an epic battle with Hand, as he worked the  count full before he hit a rocket down the left field line.

Conforto came around with the winning run to complete their fifth walk-off win of the season. The Mets now have 17 wins in their final at-bat.

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