Chalk it up to magic: 2 Mets infield hits defy gravity, logic

Knocks by Guillorme, Nido hug the line in an amazing stroke of luck in a 3-run seventh

April 11th, 2023

NEW YORK -- A few hours before game time on Monday, and busied themselves playing pool on a table upholstered in Mets-blue felt. Guillorme, whose obscure talents include spinning pizza boxes on his finger and catching errant bats barehanded, was frustrating his teammate with his ability to work the angles.

Guillorme won that game. But perhaps he and Nido both retained enough of the geometry lesson to apply it later in the evening, when they added some unique cue shots to a three-run Mets rally at Citi Field. In the span of three batters, Guillorme and Nido laid balls perfectly down the third-base line, leaving them in places where San Diego fielders could only watch and hope they might roll foul.

Neither did. And when Francisco Lindor cleaned up the bases with a two-run double, it allowed the Mets to cruise to a 5-0 win over the Padres.

“Great job by Bill [Deacon], our groundskeeper,” manager Buck Showalter quipped.

Batting with no outs and Mark Canha on second after a leadoff double in the seventh, Guillorme elected to bunt despite San Diego’s corner infielders creeping forward in anticipation. The ball bounced two or three times and then deadened, rolling up against the infield grass. Instead of ricocheting off the lip and dribbling into foul ground, however, Guillorme’s bunt hugged the line and then bounced off the lip again until it came to a stop. Only then did third baseman Manny Machado playfully kick the ball foul.

Two batters later, following Eduardo Escobar’s sacrifice fly, Nido swung and rolled over Yu Darvish’s sinker, pulling it to nearly the same spot. This time, Machado, Darvish and home-plate umpire Lance Barksdale all crowded around the ball as it came to rest on the foul line itself, a few feet shy of where Guillorme’s ball ended up.


“Down the line, you’ll probably see that once a season,” Darvish said. “But you get to see it two times in one inning. So I don’t know if that’s unlucky or if I’m lucky to be able to see that.”

The Mets considered themselves fortunate, especially considering what came next. Frustrated for most of the night by Darvish’s ability to alter their timing, New York’s bats finally broke through on Lindor’s double to put distance between them and the Padres. Combined with Max Scherzer’s five scoreless innings in a rebound effort, Jeff McNeil’s two-run double in the third and a nearly flawless bullpen performance, it was enough for the Mets to exact some revenge on their October tormentors in the series opener.

“Whatever works,” Nido said, laughing. “Make something happen, and it did.”

Showalter, who prides himself on maintaining control of every detail on a baseball diamond, was quick to credit head groundskeeper Deacon -- a former Padres employee who has been in the Mets’ organization for 17 years. The sequence reminded McNeil of his days at Cal State Long Beach, when coaches made him use a tamping tool to flatten the basepaths after games, ensuring balls would roll smoothly and predictably.

Of course, defying physics requires a bit of luck as well -- particularly in the case of Nido, an expert bunter who on this occasion wasn’t actually trying to bunt. Nido’s main job Monday was working with Scherzer, who needed a strong outing to quiet talk of his early struggles. Nido certainly didn’t approach the plate in the seventh inning expecting to contribute to one of the more bizarre sequences of this young season.

“I think he just liked [my bunt] so much he had to copy me,” Guillorme said, poking fun at his longtime friend and teammate. “Maybe he tried to do it. Maybe he saw me and said, ‘I’m going to try that again and see if it works.’”

Nido just shrugged.

“I’ll take it,” he said.