NEW YORK -- Minutes after the Mets walked off the field winners in the ninth inning Saturday, catcher Anthony Recker sat eating with infielder Josh Satin in the Citi Field clubhouse. Imagine if this was last year, Satin told Recker. The Mets might never have won.
The difference was instant replay, which the Mets can thank, at least in part, for their 6-3 victory over the Reds. Manager Terry Collins' first challenge of the season allowed the Mets to transform a scuffling rally into a healthy one, creating the opportunity that Ike Davis needed to boom a pinch-hit grand slam off the facing of the right-field stands.
After Juan Lagares drew a leadoff walk off Reds closer J.J. Hoover in the ninth, Recker laid down a bunt that first baseman Joey Votto charged and fielded. Rather than take the easy out at first, Votto fired to second base, where umpire James Hoye ruled that the ball beat Lagares to the bag.
Collins disagreed, racing out of the dugout to challenge the play. Doing everything the front office coached him to do in these situations, Collins engaged Hoye in an argument, turned to face the dugout, then officially challenged the play once bench coach Bob Geren received word from replay coordinator Jim Kelly that the challenge was winnable.
"You've got to go out," Collins said. "I went out, and Bob was checking with Jim Kelly, who's our video guy. I got the thumbs up and took a chance. It's just a close play anyway. We've got that opportunity to challenge that, so we've got to take advantage of it."
After a 2-minute, 14-second review, umpires overturned the call.
"You want to get the calls right," Votto said. "The umpires want to get the calls right. I know both sides want to get the calls right. It was a close play."
Both Collins and Lagares were initially certain what the correct call was, though Lagares said he "was almost sure." Recker was more adamant about the play.
"I was thinking to myself, 'Wow, we'd better challenge that, because I think he was safe,'" Recker said. "And [Collins] did, and it worked out for us."
A year ago, the Mets might have won the game even without the benefit of a replay challenge. But with a man on first and one out instead of two men on and zero outs, their task would have been much more difficult.
"It doesn't mean that we win the game, but it certainly would have helped us," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "They're trying to do everything that they can. I would have been upset if the shoe was on the other foot. They ended up making the right call. We felt the same way when we called our video room. We felt the call was going to be overturned. They got it right. As frustrating as it was, we anticipated we were going to get the switch."