- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
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PITTSBURGH -- Left fielder Mike Baxter never heard center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis calling for the ball.
Nieuwenhuis never heard Baxter, either.
New York Mets
The result: Neil Walker’s eighth-inning shot to left-center bounced off Nieuwenhuis’ glove as he bumped Baxter, resulting in a three-base error. Walker then scored the game-deciding run in Pittsburgh’s 5-4 victory against the Mets on Clint Barmes’ sacrifice fly.
“I didn’t hear it,” Baxter said about Nieuwenhuis’ call for the ball. “I should have taken a look. It’s 100 percent my fault. That’s a fundamental of baseball. Kirk has the right of way on that ball. I’ve got to get out of his way on that ball. That one hurts.
“I was calling for it. But it’s irrelevant, to be honest with you. As ‘off’ (corner) outfielders, your job is to know where he’s at and, if he’s going to make a play on it, you get out of the way. You’ve got to take a look. In hindsight, that’s the right way to play it -- take a look, see where he’s at. We practice taking our eye off the ball on routes anyway. You kind of give a look and see if he has a bead on it. If he does, just get out of the way so that doesn’t happen.”
Terry Collins put the onus on both players -- Baxter for not deferring, and Nieuwenhuis for dropping the ball. Collins had used both players as pinch hitters in the top of the eighth and kept them in the game in the outfield.
Collins spoke with Baxter once he returned to the dugout after the half-inning.
“I just wanted to make sure that we get it straight so it doesn’t happen again, that’s all,” Collins said. “Make sure the communication is better than it was. That’s all. It’s one of the things that really happens at the major league level in a situation where you’re out there with a lot of noise. Mike’s calling it. Kirk’s calling it. I just told Bax, ‘You’ve got to somehow realize the center fielder is coming.’ But he said, ‘I was calling it, calling it, calling it. I thought he was too far away.’ Anyway, it didn’t matter. We’ve got to catch the baseball.”
Nieuwenhuis also blamed himself.
“I should have looked over at him, took a peek, saw where he was at,” Nieuwenhuis said. “That’s my fault.”
As for who was calling for the ball, Nieuwenhuis said it actually was pretty loud at PNC Park as the ball was in the air and they converged, making it difficult to hear.
“Neither one of us heard each other,” Nieuwenhuis said. “It was pretty loud out there in the outfield by the stands a little bit. But it’s part of the game. You’ve got to deal with it. It’s not an excuse. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to make that play. It’s a routine play.”