Ryan Church, the slide, and how it may have saved the Mets season
Bottom of the eighth, two outs, men on first and second, and the Mets are down by one run.
The crowd is on their feet, as the Mets just pulled within one run of the Cubs. The man walking into the batters box is not a feared hitter by any stretch of the imagination. He has one career home run (which I was lucky(?) enough to see), and is technically the third string player at his position on the team.
But Robinson Cancel came up to the plate, and delivered what the Mets needed most. A hit.
Ryan Church was the player standing on second base when Cancel ripped a single to right field. The field was already soaked, meaning the infield dirt must have felt like cement on the underside of Church's cleats.
As Kosuke Fukudome fielded the ball, Church wasn't more than a step past third base. Luis Aguyao, the man with the quickest windmill this side of the Mississippi, sends him on his merry way toward home plate.
Aside: I think you have to send Church here, unless Fukudome fielded the ball before Church got to the bag. If you don't send him and the team strands a man 90 feet away when he had a chance, even if it was slight, to score on the play before, you will be roasted, toasted, and sent packing either by management or the fans. Luckily, it all worked out.
Church is busting around third, most likely trying not to slip on the soggy grass. SNY cuts to a camera shot of him churning towards home, so we at home have no idea where the ball is in relation to Church. They then cut to an overhead shot of home plate, and Koyie Hill is already fielding the ball and Church isn't even in the picture.
"Uh-oh," I thought.
But as Church approached Hill, and home plate, he pulled a Little League-esque play. As Hill lunged toward him from his knees, Church side-stepped the tag, as momentum carried him away from home, and towards the dugout.
As he turned away back towards the plate, he made a diving stab towards home. So did Hill. Church missed on his first attempt, but he was able to squirm and crawl closer to home, and was able to slap his hand down on the plate before Hill could recover and attempt a tag of his own.
The game was then tied. The next inning, the Mets were able to win it with a Carlos Beltran clutch hit, scoring Jose Reyes.
It would have been a much steeper mountain to climb in the ninth if it wasn't for "Church's Dodge" in the bottom of the eighth inning on Thursday night.
Game saver? Yes. Season saver? Time will tell.