Unreal circus play highlights Amazin' night on D
Torres, Murphy combine for incredible 1-3-1 putout in win over Phillies
PHILADELPHIA -- Sprinting toward first base, Carlos Torres figured there was little chance Daniel Murphy would feed him the baseball. After splaying out to snare a comebacker that ricocheted off Torres' foot, Murphy was lying on the ground, struggling to remove it from the webbing of his glove. Torres continued on his route. Then in one heaving motion, Murphy shoveled the ball to Torres as the pitcher's foot hit the bag.
Jeff Francoeur was out, and stunned.
It was easily the most memorable defensive play in Thursday's 9-5 Mets win over the Phillies, a 13-inning affair that did not lack for candidates. It was perhaps the signature play in the career of Murphy, an imperfect defender who has silenced critics for the better part of a decade. If nothing else, it was the latest evidence that something paranormal seems to be at work as the Mets chug closer and closer to a long-awaited playoff berth.
"You'll see it tonight if you turn your TVs on," manager Terry Collins said. "It will be shown many, many times."
A former Met, Francoeur started everything with a comebacker in the 10th inning that Torres -- who wears soccer cleats during batting practice because he finds them more comfortable -- kicked out of instinct. The ball ricocheted toward the hole between first and second base, which Murphy was in the process of vacating. Contorting his body to reach back and grab the ball, Murphy collected what balance he could, and used all the momentum he could muster to flip to Torres. A split-second before Francoeur reached first base, the pitcher's foot hit the bag.
"I didn't really see him look at me," Torres said of Murphy. "But he threw a great ball right over to first base."
"Carlos made a great play just to stay with it," Murphy said, deflecting the credit back to Torres. "He gets one banged right off his foot -- to continue running to get over, it was a great play. I wasn't sure if he was going to be there but I flipped it anyway."
One of the most athletic players on New York's roster, Torres later singled in his first plate appearance of the season to spark the Mets' game-winning rally in the 13th, which Murphy lit afire with a go-ahead two-run double. Murphy has been playing first base regularly only since Lucas Duda landed on the disabled list last weekend; throughout his career, Murphy has bounced around in the field, playing first, second, third and even the outfield, with sporadic success at different places. Through it all, the Mets have relied on him for offensive production like the .326 batting average and 20 RBIs he's contributed in August.
"Dan Murphy can stinkin' hit, flat hit," Collins said. "And when he's swinging it good like we are right now, he's dangerous and we're dangerous."
For the Mets, Murphy's defensive play was the most viral of half a dozen fine ones on the night. But it wasn't necessarily the most impactful. That came in the 12th inning, after an error put the potential winning run on third and David Wright -- who committed two errors Monday in his first game back from a four-month stay on the disabled list -- charged in to field Andres Blanco's chopper on a short hop.
"I'm feeling more confident, more sure-handed over there," Wright said. "The more innings I get, the more reps I get, I'm able to kind of exhale and just play my game."
Wright made a number of strong defensive plays, while rookie outfielder Michael Conforto added to the showcase when he reached into the stands to steal an out in the 12th.
By the 13th, Collins said he had approached Wright on five separate occasions to ask about his health, and the third baseman replied in no uncertain terms that he intended to keep playing. (Due to the extra-innings effort, a previously unscheduled off-day will likely come on Saturday instead.)
On this night, Wright wanted to remain a first-hand witness of a new brand of Mets magic, which Murphy and Torres later came to provide.
"When [Torres] got the hit, I said, 'We're going to score here,'" Collins said. "After kicking the ball and then he gets a hit, signs were pointing to us winning this game."