Collins' cool head prevails in heat of moment
Mets skipper removes Wright, Murphy after Braun plunking
NEW YORK -- As the bottom of the seventh inning of Tuesday night's game at Citi Field began, Mets manager Terry Collins said he had only one option in mind: limit the damage.Thus, he decided to bench David Wright and Daniel Murphy, rather than have them hit in retaliation. Wright took exception to the move and argued with his manager in the dugout. In the end, both men agreed that Collins was right. "It's Terry's decision. Whatever Terry's decision is, I'm on board with it 100 percent," Wright said after the Mets were shellacked by the Brewers, 8-0. "I follow my captain. I follow my skipper," Murphy said. "If he says, 'Sit,' I sit." The sequence of events went like this: Rickie Weeks homered off reliever D.J. Carrasco with one out in the top of the seventh, extending Milwaukee's lead to 8-0. Carrasco then hit Ryan Braun with the next pitch, prompting his immediate ejection from the game by plate umpire Gary Darling. When the Mets came up to hit against Zack Greinke in the bottom of the inning, Collins told Wright to take a seat. "In my opinion and why I took [Wright] out of the game? He wasn't getting hurt," Collins said, explaining his move afterward. "I'm not accusing anyone of the possibility of retaliation. I don't blame the umpires for doing what they did. I don't blame the other team for any perception of what happened. But I've got news for you: In this game, there are unwritten rules. And one of the unwritten rules is, 'You're hitting my guy, I'm hitting your guy.' They're not hitting my guy tonight. I'm not exposing him to getting hit." Certainly not in an eight-run game with the Mets in the midst of playing 20 games in 20 days, was Collins' way of thinking unique. Not with Wright recovering from a fractured pinky. Not with the third baseman hitting .408, including four homers and a team-leading 21 RBIs. Not after he was hit in the head with a pitch in 2009, costing him half of a month on the disabled list because of a concussion. Not with Murphy hitting .336. It was the end of a short two-game series with no possibility of carryover until Wednesday. The Reds now come to town. In fact, the Mets don't play the Brewers in Milwaukee until Sept. 14-16. By then, all this should be ancient history. As for Tuesday night, though, Carrasco said he inadvertently hit Braun with a slider after the homer, but Brewers manager Ron Roenicke wasn't buying that story. "I didn't like it," he said. "I don't understand it." Asked about the ensuing chain of events, Roenicke called Collins' decision to remove Wright and Murphy "interesting." Wright felt differently, of course. As one of the leaders of the club, he told Collins that it was his place to take the hit after Carrasco nailed Braun, Milwaukee's best player and the reigning National League Most Valuable Player. "I probably should have picked a better spot for it," Wright said. "But it happened in the heat of the moment. I was up first and it got me at a moment where I was upset with the situation. It got me at a moment that I was pretty hot. It wasn't directed at Terry at all. He told me I wasn't hitting and I tried to plead my case with him. I'm sure watching it it can be construed as one thing. But it really wasn't." No matter, Collins wasn't listening. He said he had already told Murphy and Wright that they'd be coming out of the game in the bottom of that inning, anyway, because of the situation and the score. The Braun hit-by-pitch certainly cemented matters. "[Wright] said: 'If anybody is going to be hit, it's going to be me,'" Collins said about the quick, but heated conversation with Wright. "And I said, 'Sorry, it isn't going to be you.' They're not going to hit Jordany Valdespin. But if they're going to retaliate, they're going to hit David Wright. And that ain't happening tonight." Collins pinch-hit Valdespin for Wright and Justin Turner for Murphy, evidently diffusing matters. Nothing more happened in the game. In the heat of the moment, the coolest head certainly prevailed.
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.