NEW YORK -- Desperate to score runs, the Mets' struggle to do so turned ugly in the eighth inning of their 2-0, 11-inning loss to the Cubs on Wednesday, despite a controversial call working in their favor.
With one out and two men in scoring position in a scoreless game, Darrell Ceciliani attempted a suicide squeeze, but missed the bunt. Ruben Tejada, who was on third base at the start of the play, was caught halfway between there and home, prompting the Cubs to chase him back to third base.
Problem was, Daniel Murphy had already advanced from second to third. Cubs catcher Miguel Montero tagged Murphy, the trailing runner, then also tagged Tejada, who had wandered off third base. But instead of awarding the Cubs an inning-ending double play, umpires ruled that Tejada "abandoned his efforts to be safe" by stepping past the bag behind third base, giving Murphy rights to it.
"He wasn't going home, he was on the other side of third base going toward the outfield," crew chief Laz Diaz said of Tejada. "That's why he abandoned his effort, because he was on the other side of third base."
Diaz continued that "once that happened, it was Murphy's bag" -- essentially overriding Rule 7.03(a), which states that the trailing runner is out if two men occupy the same base.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon emerged from his dugout afterward in an apparent effort to argue what, at the time, was a significant call in a scoreless game. But Maddon said he agreed with the ruling even then, recalling a similar play from when he was interim manager of the Angels in 1996.
"What they explained to me was exactly what I had in my mind's eye," Maddon said. "So there was nothing to really argue about. I was just kind of messing with them a little bit."
It all became moot when Ceciliani struck out to end the Mets' 17th consecutive scoreless inning, which wound up being their most important takeaway from the game. By the end of the night, the Mets had gone 20 straight innings without a run, prompting manager Terry Collins to discuss plans for a potential lineup shakeup on Thursday.
But at this point, there is only so much Collins can do.
"We've tried a lot of things," Collins said. "We will continue to search and try to come up with a remedy."
That is why he called for the squeeze, something the Mets have not attempted all season. As Murphy put it, "I think the skipper felt like it was an opportunity to kind of make something happen right there."
"We're not getting a lot of opportunities," Collins said. "That's why you sit there and say, 'Let's open it up.' I figured maybe I'd do something that's outside the box, because we've been staying inside the box and it isn't working."