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The Biggest Play Nobody’s Talking About From Mets-Dodgers Game 5

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

 

It was one of the biggest plays of Game 5, but it’s the play nobody in the media, no columnists, no talking heads and no players or coaches really talked about after the Mets defeated the Dodgers, 3-2, to win the National League Division Series Thursday night.

After Daniel Murphy’s clandestine dash to third base in the fourth inning gave the Mets, trailing at the time, 2-1, runners at first and third with one out, Travis d’Arnaud batted against Zack Greinke. d’Arnaud, who has not been swinging the bat well save for his Game 3 home run, lifted a high fly ball down the right field line.

Dodger right fielder Andre Ethier ran toward the foul line and, as the ball drifted into foul territory, Ethier did the Mets a huge favor. He caught the ball. It was plenty deep enough to allow Murphy to score the tying run, which sucked a lot of life out of Dodger Stadium. Had Ethier allowed the ball to drop foul, it would have been a dead ball, runners could not have advanced, and Greinke would have had a good shot to retire the struggling d’Arnaud, who was behind in the count, 1-2, on an out that might have kept the tying run at third.

Ironically, the previous inning, Ethier and Dodger manager Don Mattingly were involved in a visible shouting match in the dugout, a strange optic for a team leading at home in a winner-take-all playoff game. It was the first signs of cracks in the Dodger armor Thursday night, and while Mattingly explained after the game that Ethier was actually upset at the home plate umpire and was just expressing it to his manager, the explanation seemed to be lacking some nuance.

As for the stealth steal of third by Murphy, who caught the Dodgers in an overshift to the right side that left third base vacated after Greinke’s walk to Lucas Duda, it recalled Mets captain David Wright’s comment from a season or two ago about Murphy’s frequently creative but often dumbfounding baserunning decisions: “Sometimes Daniel thinks he’s invisible on the bases.”

On Thursday night, he really was.

In 1969, the Mets won Game 4 of the World Series when right fielder Ron Swoboda, who had a reputation as a poor outfielder, made one of the Fall Classic’s greatest catches ever against Brooks Robinson.

In 2015, the Mets won Game 5 of their divisional series against the Dodgers when Daniel Murphy, who has a reputation as a poor baserunner, made a baserunning play as clever and craft as any in Mets history.

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