The difference between winning and losing can be minute: Just ask the Mets.
The Mets’ 4-1 loss to the Braves in 10 innings Wednesday afternoon at Citi Field can be attributed to a footstep.
First base umpire Jerry Layne called Freddie Freeman safe on an infield single in the 10th. Replays showed that Scott Rice’s throw got to Josh Satin at the same time Freeman’s foot hit the bag. Manager Terry Collins immediately argued the ruling, which would have been the third out.
With runners on first and second, the next batter, Chris Johnson, slammed Greg Burke’s 91-mph sinker over the left-field wall. After Johnson’s homer, Collins and Daniel Murphy argued with Layne and were subsequently ejected.
“Jerry just said he thought he got it right,” Collins said. “I didn't have much to say that was very nice.”
After Johnson’s homer, Collins and Daniel Murphy argued with Layne and both were ejected. Collins said he argued Murphy’s ejection.
“We had a difference of opinion,” Murphy said. “Our difference of opinion started as soon as the ball went in the air. He gave me about 90 feet.”
Johnson’s game-winning homer broke a 1-1 tie that had lasted from the sixth inning. Freeman’s RBI single in the sixth plated Jordan Schafer with the tying run, but it is how he reached that will resonate in the minds of the players, coaches and 22,935 in attendance.
After getting Paul Janish and Alex Wood out to start the sixth inning, Jon Niese inadvertently hit Braves right fielder Jason Heyward in the right jaw with a 90-mph four-seam fastball. Heyward immediately fell to the ground and after a delay was taken off the field to be examined by Mets doctors. Later he was taken to a local hospital for further evaluation. Heyward was replaced by Schafer in the lineup.
“It was tough,” Niese said. “I wanted to elevate a fastball but it just kind of ran in on him. Obviously [there was] no intent. I just feel bad. It's every pitcher's and hitter's worst nightmare. I hope he's OK.”
Niese labored after hitting Heyward, allowing three hits and a walk in his final two innings of work. He finished with nine strikeouts in seven innings as his ERA fell from 4.25 to 4.03. He allowed five hits and three walks.
“I felt terrible but at the same time I had to regroup,” Niese said. “I thought I made a couple good pitches but they put some good swings on them.”
Satin’s solo home run in the fourth gave the Mets a 1-0 lead. Satin slammed an 83-mph changeup from Wood over the left-field wall. Satin’s second homer of the season — and the second of his career — was Wood’s lone mistake in six innings. He scattered six hits and walked two while striking out four.
The Mets had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth. Justin Turner started the inning with a one-out double to the left-center field gap. Turner advanced to third on Wilmer Flores’s ground out. Walks to John Buck and pinch hitter Travis d’Arnaud loaded the bases but Juan Lagares grounded out to Andrelton Simmons to end the inning.
“We had bases loaded. We had a couple other opportunities,” Collins said. “We had a couple opportunities and just couldn't get a run.”
The Mets fell to 58-67 and have split the season series against the Braves. The NL East rivals have one series remaining this season — Sept. 2-4 in Atlanta.
Luis Avilan threw one shutout inning to earn his fifth win of the season. Scott Atchison (3-2) was charged with the loss. Craig Kimbrel recorded his 40th save.
Follow Mets beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.