Leap at the plate comes up short, so do Mets

June 20th, 2019

ATLANTA -- It was a promising rally, the exact sort the Mets needed in their attempt to climb back into the NL East race, back into the playoff chase, back into relevance. Batting in the sixth inning of a tie game Wednesday at SunTrust Park, the Mets put two men on base with one out. followed with a flare into right field.

In that moment, third-base coach Gary Disarcina made a decision that changed the context of the night, windmilling his arm to direct home. Right fielder Charlie Culberson fired a two-hop throw up the third-base line, wild enough to force catcher Tyler Flowers to the ground in pursuit, but strong enough to upend the Mets -- both literally and figuratively. Still painfully far from home plate, Davis tried to leap over Flowers, who thrust his glove upward and snapped a tag on his leg.

“It was definitely my decision,” Disarcina said. “I’d do it all over again.”

“We want to be aggressive,” added manager Mickey Callaway. “We don’t want to run into outs just carelessly, but we want to be aggressive.”

The Braves snuffed out the remaining embers of the Mets’ rally moments later, then followed with one of their own to drop New York to a 7-2 defeat. With the loss, the Mets fell a season-high 8.5 games out of first place in the NL East, tumbling to fourth for the first time this season.

“We’ve got to get going,” Davis said. “That’s the elephant in the room. We all know it. There’s a sense of urgency.”

The night began promisingly -- even fortuitously -- for the Mets, who took an early lead when leadoff man Jeff McNeil doubled, stole third and scored on ’s groundout. After the Braves responded with two runs of their own against , the Mets tied things as Ronald Acuna misplayed an fly ball into a fifth-inning RBI double.

Yet Rosario was thrown out trying to stretch that hit into a triple with two outs, offering a preview of the Mets’ next baserunning gaffe in the sixth.

Before Ramos hit his flare into right and the Mets ran themselves out of the inning, the Braves held a mound meeting, giving Disarcina and Davis a quick chance to chat. The two reviewed their pregame scouting session, noting that none of the Braves’ outfielders -- Austin Riley, Ronald Acuna Jr. or Culberson -- possessed anything more than an average arm. Given a chance to score on a single, Disarcina told Davis, he planned to be aggressive.

So Davis was unsurprised when he lifted his head and saw Disarcina waving him home. He was more surprised when he saw Flowers splayed on the dirt in front of him, with the baseball in his glove. The Braves catcher said afterward that he was “already kind of committing to giving up” on the play, until he realized how far Davis still was from home plate.

“It’s not like Bellinger’s out there,” Disarcina said, defending his send against Culberson. “It’s a utility player. He has a good, strong arm, but with our reports, he’s been inaccurate. He made a great play, a great throw. That’s what big leaguers do.”

Big leaguers also take advantage of the opportunities they’re given, as the Braves subsequently did. In the bottom of that inning, Freddie Freeman dunked a single in front of Davis, and Josh Donaldson followed with a two-run homer to give Atlanta the lead for good. Matz allowed five runs in five-plus innings, taking the loss for a Mets team that has not won consecutive road games since April.

“This one was on me,” Matz said. “This was a big game.”

Consider it another opportunity lost for the Mets, who have not showcased enough talent or aptitude to overcome so many daily mistakes. Their defensive and baserunning metrics rank among the worst in baseball, while their core offensive and pitching stats are both slightly below-average. And the schedule grows no easier from here, with eight road games still upcoming against the contending Cubs and Phillies.

“Our record is what our record is,” Callaway said. “We’re concerned