Mets reliance on infielders in the outfield burns them in loss to Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — The most Metsian defensive blunder of the season featured a can of corn to left field on Friday night at Oracle Park.

Dom Smith, a first baseman playing in the outfield to allow his bat in the lineup, tracked the ball while shortstop Amed Rosario did the same.

As the two converted, Smith thought back to last season when the two collided, allowing a ball to drop and score the game-winning run against these same San Francisco Giants.

Smith and Rosario didn’t collide this time, but Smith’s hesitation led to him trying to basket catch the ball, and it bounced off his glove.

A few moments later, a throw sailed to the plate that was not covered by any Met, and the Giants had a 1-0 walk-off win in 10 innings.

Jul 19, 2019; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants left fielder Alex Dickerson (8) celebrates with catcher Stephen Vogt (21) after scoring the winning run against the New York Mets at Oracle Park. (USA TODAY Sports)

“Just a little miscommunication. Ball dropped,” Smith said. “Cost us the game.”

Defense has never been a priority for these Mets, who entered the night ranked 28th in defensive runs saved with a -58 rating, per Fangraphs.

Former general manager Sandy Alderson did not emphasize defense, and the current roster mainly features offensive-oriented players.

That roster alignment leaves the Mets using Smith as their primary left fielder, and Jeff McNeil, an infielder, as their right fielder.

Smith and McNeil have both performed admirably as outfielders, and the metrics are quite favorable for McNeil, but they’re still not naturals at their spots.

Friday’s error showcased Smith’s lack of experience since that ball had just an expected batting average of .040, according to

Smith said he called for the ball.

“I got a good jump on it, started to get back when he called me off, I just backed off,” Rosario said through a translator. “It’s part of the game. It’s one of those things I was a little close to him and I think that’s why it happened the way it did.”

After Smith dropped the ball, he fired toward the plate since Alex Dickerson ran hard from first. Todd Frazier cut off the throw since it did not have enough velocity to reach the plate in time, and he tried to get the outfielder at home.

Unfortunately for Frazier, catcher Wilson Ramos had moved up the third base line in case of an errant throw, and when Frazier turned and fired to the first-base side of the plate, no one was there to catch the ball. Dickerson scored easily.

“Couple mistakes on the same play,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said.

The play was eerily similar to a play involving the Rosario and Smith last year.

Last August at Citi Field, Smith and Rosario both chased a fly ball into shallow left from Brandon Crawford. Smith bumped into Rosario as the ball hit Rosario’s glove, and it jarred it loose to give the Giants a 2-1 lead in the 13th.

“Just took my eye off the ball because of what happened [last year],” Smith said. “Ended up dropping it.”

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