DENVER — Terry Collins bounded from the visitors’ dugout and jogged straight to the plate. Even before he began ripping into umpire Carlos Torres, the manager’s face was already red. It was this kind of night.
The Mets’ 7-4 loss to the Rockies on Saturday night turned on an instant in the third, when Torres heard a foul tip that video later confirmed had never happened. But even in an era of expanded replay, such calls aren’t reviewable.
Given a second chance, Rockies catcher Tony Wolters ripped a two-run double off Logan Verrett, who only moments before thought he had a critical strikeout. With that, the Rockies pounded the Mets for five runs in the third inning, and Collins watched the rest from the clubhouse following his first ejection of the season.
“It cost us the game,” a seething Collins said. “End of story.”
Verrett showed the effects of a layoff, alowing for seven runs and 10 hits in just 2 2⁄3 innings. And while the Mets cut the deficit to three runs, they couldn’t finish off the comeback despite 5 1⁄3 scoreless innings by their bullpen.
With the loss, the Mets (21-15) dropped their first series since losing two of three to the Marlins in the middle of April, and slipped to third in the NL East, 1 1⁄2 games behind the front-running Nationals and a half-game behind the second-place Phillies.
Indeed, Torres’ blown call loomed large. The Rockies sent 10 men to the plate in the third, leaving the Mets to claw back from a 7-1 deficit after Verrett thought he was on the way out of a jam.
“I was a little caught off guard,” he said. “And I didn’t really know what he saw.”
The Mets righty committed a cardinal sin at Coors Field in that third inning, issuing a pair of free passes, including one with the bases loaded to force in a run. But Torres pushed the Mets over the ledge.
Verrett thought he had struck out Wolters with a pitch in the dirt. With opposing pitcher Eddie Butler on deck, Verrett needed just one out to hold the damage to a run.
Had Verrett stemmed the tide, the Mets would have faced only a 3-1 deficit, leaving plenty of time to spare themselves from their third straight loss and their fourth defeat in five games. But Torres waved his arms immediately, indicating that the pitch was tipped foul, leaving Verrett confused and Collins steaming.
A few days before, the manager lamented that expanded replay had done away with arguing with umpires. He scratched that itch with Torres. Replays showed that Wolters’ swing did not alter the path of Verrett’s pitch, nor did it change the spin of the ball, proof that it was indeed not tipped.
Collins said he was incensed when Wolters turned around and began walking back to the dugout, only to be called back when Torres insisted that he heard the bat contact the ball.
“You couldn’t have heard it,” Collins said he told the umpire during their encounter. “Because he didn’t foul it off.”
Torres listened to the torrent of words from the manager’s mouth, even as Collins’ hand gestures got more and more forceful. Eventually, it was enough. Torres tossed Collins, who kept up his barrage until the umpire finally turned his back and walked away.
At the plate, catcher Kevin Plawecki heard a revelation as Wolters returned to the batter’s box: “I didn’t hit that ball.”
“He didn’t have to tell me,” Plawecki said later. “Everybody knew in the ballpark besides the guy standing behind me.”
Given a second chance, Wolters pounded a two-run double to right-center. It was the fuel the Rockies used to produce a five-run third inning. Charlie Blackmon roped a two-run single, completing the misery that stemmed from the blown call.
“Pretty bold call by him, I would say,” Plawecki said. “I mean, unless you’re dead certain that he tipped the ball, I don’t know how you call it in that situation.”