Big League Stew

Panicky Mets mess up pitchout, ball hits umpire on Billy Hamilton’s 13th straight steal

David Brown
Big League Stew

Cincinnati Reds rookie Billy Hamilton makes things happen. He makes things happen and he makes other teams nervous with his blazing speed. Hamilton makes other teams so jittery when he gets a lead from a base, he can even make the opposing pitcher hit the umpire.

After Hamilton entered as a pinch runner in the eighth inning Monday night, the New York Mets figured he would try to steal second base on the next pitch. After all, Hamilton had not been caught in 12 attempts since being called up from the minors. So the Mets called for a pitchout to help give catcher Travis d'Arnaud a better chance — only the message didn't get to right-hander Frank Francisco. He threw a 90-mph fastball pretty much down the heart of the plate as d'Arnaud got to his feet and stepped away. d'Arnaud reached back, but could not catch the ball with his mitt, and it drilled umpire Tony Randazzo in the chest protector.

Oh, Mets.

Hamilton slid safely into second base for his 13th steal. Randazzo was OK, if perhaps bruised. It could have been worse, if the ball had hit him in the arm, or facemask. And the Mets looked silly, though we're not sure if the fault lies with Francisco or the rookie catcher or neither. Maybe the coaching staff messed up. Thankfully for them, kind of, the Reds stranded Hamilton at second. They did manage to score a run in the bottom of the 10th to win 3-2 and help themselves clinch a playoff spot. The Mets could only clench, not clinch.

Meanwhile, the Reds might want to consider putting Hamilton in the game from the beginning more often. He has six hits (including two doubles) and two walks in 16 plate appearances so far, with only one strikeout. He came to the majors with an impeccable reputation on the bases (he stole a record 155 bags in 2012, plus 75 more this season) but he's still considered a project with his bat.

I say Dusty Baker should roll the dice and put Hamilton in the lineup. You just never know what he'll make the other team do.

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