Leave it to an old arch nemesis to rain on the Mets playoff parade. It wasn’t in the form of a clutch RBI or dramatic home run, but it was a takeout slide from former Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley that changed the complexion of Game 2 of the NLDS.
Leading 2-1 with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, Utley stepped to the dish with a runner on second base. Noah Syndergaard overwhelmed the Dodgers over the first six innings by mowing down nine batters and yielding just one run. New York’s starter hung a changeup in the middle of the plate that Utley served into right field just beyond the reach of second baseman Daniel Murphy.
Enrique Hernandez was held up at third base which left runners on the corners and one out. Mets manager Terry Collins trotted out to the mound and signaled for the bullpen. Syndergaard’s day was done and Collins surprisingly turned to 42-year-old starter Bartolo Colon to get a critical out in a rare relief appearance.
The Mets were hoping for a ground ball to induce a double play and Howie Kendrick hit a bouncer to Murphy who flipped to Ruben Tejeda for one-out while Utley’s takeout slide prevented the shortstop from turning two.
Utley’s slide did more than break up the double play, it broke Tejeda’s right leg. Trainer Ray Ramirez rushed onto the field to tend to Tejeda and immobilize his leg to prevent further damage.
The umpires signaled that Utley was out at second base and the tying run scored to even the contest at 2-2.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly challenged the play on the field; contending that Tejeda never touched second base. Upon review the empires awarded Utley second base and ruled that Tejeda never touched the bag.
The “neighborhood play” was not enforced since the umpires felt that Murhpy’s throw brought Tejeda too far off the base for a routine turn.
During the chaotic sequence that ended Tejeda’s season, Utley never touched the base and headed for the Dodgers dugout when the umpires initially motioned that he was out on the play.
The Mets were unable to challenge the fact that Utley never touched second base because he was automatically awarded the base upon replay review.
With their shortstop’s leg broken and the game now notched at two apiece, Los Angeles rallied for three more runs off Addison Reed to cap a wild comeback.
Utley has a history of hard-nose and borderline dirty base running as he was involved in another takeout slide of Tejeda back in 2010 when he was a member of the Phillies.
By all estimates Utley’s intention was not to fracture Tejeda’s leg, but the Dodgers backup second baseman showed little concern for the Mets starting shortstop as he was writhing in pain on the infield.
Utley did appear to take the brunt of the collision as Tejeda’s knee smashed into his head and cause it to snapback into the ground. It’s unclear whether Utley has been diagnosed with a concussion, but he was noticeably woozy when he returned to the Dodgers dugout.
To replace the injured Tejeda, the Mets will plug in Wilmer Flores at shortstop and activated career minor leaguer Matt Reynolds to join the team.
Bad blood will be brewing when these two clubs play a pivotal Game 3 at Citi Field on Monday night.
Matt Harvey will oppose Brett Anderson and you can be sure that payback will be the theme of the night in Queens.