Jorge L. Ortiz.
LOS ANGELES – This National League Division Series may have turned on one slide – hard-nosed, dirty or somewhere in between.
Chase Utley, traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in mid-August, flipped New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada on his back and sent him to the sidelines with a crushing slide that sparked the hosts to a four-run rally and a 5-2 victory in Game 2.
Tejada suffered a fractured right fibula on the play, the Mets announced, and will miss the remainder of the postseason. The series is now tied 1-1 heading back to New York.
Utley singled as a pinch-hitter to put runners on first and third with one out as the Dodgers trailed 2-1 in the seventh. As Kike Hernandez scored the tying run on a Howie Kendrick grounder, Utley made sure Tejada would have no chance to relay to first, going hard after his legs and flipping him over.
When asked if he thought the slide was clean, Mets manager Terry Collins said: “Well, it broke my shortstop’s leg.”.
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While the New York medical staff tended to Tejada as he lay on the ground – he was carted off after being fitted with an inflatable splint – the play was reviewed on video. It was determined Tejada did not touch second, sending Utley back to the base.
Dodgers tie NLDS with Mets after controversial slide.
That proved critical because, after Corey Seager made the second out on short fly, Adrian Gonzalez cracked a tiebreaking two-RBI double and Justin Turner a run-scoring single to put the Dodgers ahead 5-2.
Utley’s slide is sure to spark plenty of debate because he did not go for the base but rather right at Tejada, and he wound up too far from second to touch it.
“In my opinion,” said Mets third baseman David Wright, “he was nowhere close to the bag.”.
So-called neighborhood plays are not subject to replay as a safety measure, but umpires determined that second baseman Daniel Murphy’s throw had pulled Tejada off the base, allowing for the replay.
MLB players react to Chase Utley breaking Ruben Tejada’s leg.
Utley emerging from the dugout when many assumed he was out created a great deal of confusion in the immediate aftermath.
Going forward, the slide that started the sequence is what will be remembered – and debated – for years.
“You’re taught from a young age to try to break up double plays,” he told reporters. “I think that’s winning baseball. I didn’t realize his back was turned. Everything obviously happens fast.
“I tried to break it up. Again, there was no intent to injure Ruben whatsoever.”.
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