In a game in which each run mattered, the Mets cost themselves on the base paths Tuesday night.
The Mets ran into one out and only avoided another through sheer luck in their 4-2 loss to the Yankees in The Bronx.
A team that thrives not with home runs, but with timely hits, the Mets could not fully capitalize when one of those clutch hits arrived. In the fifth inning, with the Mets trailing 2-0, Starling Marte ground a two-out single to right field, scoring Mark Canha from third and prompting a play at the plate on Brett Baty, who was trying to score from second base.
The Mets rookie was waved in by third-base coach Joey Cora, but a Yankees rookie was more impressive on the play. Oswaldo Cabrera, playing right field, came up throwing and put his full body into a bullet to Kyle Higashioka. The catcher made a nice pick and applied the tag on Baty, preventing the Mets from tying the game.
Manager Buck Showalter said Cora’s decision to send Baty was good.
“When runs are at a premium, you gotta make them throw you out,” Showalter said. “Really good play by the catcher and right fielder.”
The Mets were able to knot it up in the next inning, but only because a Gleyber Torres misplay outstripped those by the Mets. With Pete Alonso on first, Jeff McNeil launched a shot into the gap in right-center, clearly thinking triple all the way. But Alonso stumbled around third base and held up, leaving McNeil caught between second and third.
The Yankees should have had a sure out, but no one was covering second. A footrace developed between McNeil and Torres, who had caught the relay throw — and who ignored Alonso taking off for home. Alonso scored safely to tie the score and McNeil beat Torres to second.
Asked what was going through his head when he looked back and realized McNeil was stuck, Alonso smiled.
“Uhhhh, I mean,” he said with a laugh. “You just play baseball. You just got to figure it out. Thankfully Jeff was able to get back.”
There were smaller infractions. Baty failed to tag up from second base on a fly ball that Brandon Nimmo sent to the warning track in right-center in the seventh. With runners on first and second in the eighth inning, Daniel Vogelbach grounded softly to Isiah Kiner-Falefa at shortstop. A healthy Vogelbach probably would have beaten the throw, but the Yankees completed a double play because the DH is dealing with a balky hamstring.
The Mets cannot afford to waste many outs or opportunities, and Tuesday they wasted both.