Gary Cohen and especially Ron Darling were highly critical of Mets pitcher Luis Severino for his lack of effort following a hit. Photo Credit: SNY Ron Darling and Gary Cohen discuss Mets pitcher Luis Severino. Photo Credit: SNY

One of the fundamental elements of pitching is backing up bases. New York Mets pitcher Luis Severino failed to do that on Wednesday. Worse, he failed to do that twice in three pitches.

In response, Severino was heavily criticized by Gary Cohen and especially Ron Darling, calling the game for the Mets on SNY.

With New York leading 1-0 over the Washington Nationals in the top of the fourth, Severino faced Washington’s Juan Yepez with two outs and runners on first and second. Yepez singled down the right field line, easily scoring Keibert Ruiz, who was on second base, to tie the game. Mets right fielder Tyrone Taylor threw home. His throw was well behind Ruiz and up the baseline, getting away from catcher Francisco Álvarez. Severino was not backing the play up. With that, Lane Thomas scored as well.

Darling, who was a Major League pitcher for 13 seasons before becoming an announcer, was highly critical of Severino.

“This is inexcusable. All it takes is a little hustle by a pitcher. One-hundred percent of the time, when you give up a hit that can score a run or a play is at third, 100% of the time, you have to back up.”

Two pitches later, it happened again. Ildemaro Vargas singled to left field. Once again, Severino did not back up the plate. This time, the mistake wasn’t as costly. Yepez, who advanced to second on the throw following his RBI single, didn’t try to score. His baserunning was criticized by MASN’s Dan Kolko and Kevin Frandsen. Seeing Yepez holding at third, Brandon Nimmo safely threw the ball into the infield.

But while failing to back up home didn’t cost Severino and the Mets this time, Darling was again critical.

“Hefner better include that in his remarks here,” Darling said, referencing New York pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, who made a mound visit following Vargas’ hit. “You just have to do it. It’s one of those plays that you can go three seasons without it affecting you. That the catcher blocks it each and every time or it never goes by the third baseman. Literally three years.”

“But for it to happen two batters in a row?” Cohen said.

“He has taken it out of his game and it’s a shame,” Darling said. “You have to back up. It’s the professional way to play the game.”

Severino retired Washington’s Jacob Young to end the top of the fourth. The conversation, though, continued into the bottom half of the inning.

“It’s unconscionable that you’d do it once. To happen twice in a row, I don’t even know what you’d say to that,” Darling said. “I played on teams before where a manager has got in my face — I shouldn’t say that, I don’t know. I backed up bases. That’s what I did. I was good at it after a while, especially late in my career. The one who gets really angry are the outfielders, who make a nice throw to home plate and it goes by the catcher. And now they get an error.

“He gets an error, Tyrone Taylor, for his hustle to get to right field to try to save your rear end. Because you just gave up a base hit. So how you honor your teammates is you do the little things. You say to Tyrone Taylor, ‘I appreciate your effort, I’m gonna back up home plate. Just in case the ball gets through, I’ll be there and you won’t get an error.’ I did not do that, so it makes the outfielder say, ‘What does he think of me?’ That he doesn’t do just the simplest of hustle things.”

“So it’s about being a good teammate as much as doing things to win the game,” Cohen added.

As fate would have it, the issue presented itself in the bottom half of the inning.

New York’s José Iglesias delivered a two-out single with runners on first and second. Matt Vientos, the runner on second base, held at third following a strong throw from Thomas in right field. The ball got away from Ruiz, the Washington catcher. But Nationals pitcher Patrick Corbin, was backing up the throw, which froze Vientos on third.

“So Corbin does what Severino failed to do,” Cohen said. And that keeps the Nats in front. At least for the moment.”

“Nice play by Corbin, who gives up the hit” Darling said. “But you put your head down and you get in proper position,” Darling said. “And you’re there just in case.”

[Photo Credit: SNY]

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