NEW YORK -- From his vantage point at second base, Kelly Johnson went through the same sequence of emotions as nearly everyone else in Citi Field: disbelief that Ruben Tejada's hit skipped past Domonic Brown, concern for Brown as he flipped over the outfield wall and onto the concrete below, then a blaze of excitement as he watched Tejada race around the bases for the Mets' first inside-the-park home run in a half-decade.
For the Mets, it was a defining moment in Wednesday's 9-4 win over the Phillies, another machine-like demonstration of their newfound offensive capabilities. For Brown, who left the park with concussion-like symptoms, it could have lasting repercussions. For Tejada, it was the lead highlight of what has quietly been a solid season in a previously disappointing career.
"It's a long year," Tejada said. "You never know what can happen."
Certainly when Tejada hit a benign-seeming base hit down the right-field line in the second inning, he did not anticipate what would happen next: Brown, who was sprinting in to make a play on the ball, whiffed on it altogether. As the ball scooted under Brown's glove and trickled behind him, the Phillies outfielder kept running toward the wall, unable to arrest his momentum. He flipped head-over-heels onto the concrete as Tejada raced around the bases in 16.5 seconds, according to Statcast™.
Statcast™ also tracked Tejada's hit at 74.5 mph off the bat, the softest homer in the Majors this season.
"Maybe of all-time," Johnson said, chuckling. "I was really happy for Ruben. The guy's been hitting the ball as hard as anybody."
In limited time this year, Tejada has submitted his best batting average (.257), on-base percentage (.336) and slugging (.350) marks in three years, despite losing most of his regular playing time to Wilmer Flores. As the best defensive shortstop on the roster, Tejada will also continue to have a role going forward into October.
"He's a good player," manager Terry Collins said. "I wish I had an explanation for why the last couple of years have gone the way they have for him. I don't. He's a tough at-bat. He'll take a single. He has enough power to be a little bit dangerous. He has a tremendous arm. He has good hands. He has all the tools, but we got to get him to where he really wants to be out there. Right now, he wants to be out there."
At the least, Tejada now has a small place in history. His inside-the-park home run was the Mets' first since Angel Pagan hit one May 19, 2010, against the Nationals. Pagan also started a triple play on defense that same day.
As for Brown, who remained in the game for two more innings before departing, any concussion he may have suffered should become clear via testing back in Philadelphia. Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin mostly bemoaned the fact that Brown did not slide in pursuit of the baseball, which would have prevented his momentum from taking him to the wall.
"He made a good effort to try to catch it," Mackanin said, "then he got to the point where it was a little bit too late and he had no choice."