All season, Mets manager Mickey Callaway has coached his hitters to be “selectively aggressive” on the base paths. It’s a strategy that, for the most part, has been immensely successful for the Mets in their surprising start to 2018, despite a roster composed of many over-30 veterans.
In Monday night’s 8-6 loss to the Nationals, though, the base-running approach backfired.
After Callway’s bullpen failed epically in the eighth and ninth innings, turning a five-run Mets lead into a two-run deficit, New York brought the tying run the plate in the bottom of the ninth. Asdrubal Cabrera slapped a one-out double down the left-field line. No. 3 hitter Michael Conforto then came to the plate.
On the first pitch of Conforto’s at-bat, National reliever Brandon Kintzler bounced an inside breaking ball into the dirt. Washington catcher Pedro Severino did well to drop down and block the ball with his chest, sending it careening up the third-base line. Cabrera took off as soon as he saw the ball in the dirt. But Severino pounced up, found the ball and fired a strike to third. Cabrera was out by a wide margin, and Conforto flew out to end the game.
Cabrera owned up to his mistake after the game.
“That was bad running right there,” he said.
Callaway applauded Cabrera’s aggressiveness, but said: “He’s got to make it. If he goes, he’s got to make it.”
Cabrera made an almost identical error just over a week ago when the Mets won in extra innings at Washington. He was on second with no outs in the top of the 11th. Adrian Gonzalez struck out on a ball in the dirt, and Cabrera tried to swipe third. He was thrown out easily.
Despite the two mistakes, Cabrera said he isn’t going to change his mindset.
“I got to keep doing what I’m doing,” said Cabrera, who has been the Mets’ best hitter this season and crushed a two-run homer, his fourth of the year, in the seventh inning Monday. “Keep being aggressive.”
“It’s paid dividends for us more than it’s hurt us,” the skipper said.
Send a Letter to the Editor