In a bizarre play involving former University of Kentucky standout AJ Reed, New York Mets center fielder Yoenis Cespedes backed away from a ball that was in plain sight underneath the padding on the wall, giving the Houston Astros an inside-the-park homer Thursday in an 8-5 win over New York.
A matchup of AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel and Mets ace Matt Harvey was overshadowed by the strange home run.
Reed, the national college player of the year at Kentucky in 2014, hit a deep drive in the second inning that landed in the dirt at the base of the wall. The ball was clearly visible, but Cespedes put up his hands to signal it was unplayable and should be a ground rule double.
Reed easily made it to second base, then jogged the rest of the way home while Cespedes stood by.
Never miss a local story.
Second base umpire CB Bucknor went out to center field and rolled the ball away from the wall, showing Cespedes he should have made a play.
“The ball fell under the fence. It got wedged in there. For me, I couldn’t grab it,” Cespedes said through a translator. “I thought, ‘Follow the rules.’ It should have been a double.”
“(Bucknor) said, ‘Yes, you should be able to grab that.’ I said, ‘Of course I can grab that if I stick my hand in there and pull it out.’ I guess I could grab it,” he said.
Mets Manager Terry Collins called the play a “misunderstanding.” He said Cespedes’ response is standard during the regular season.
“Most ballparks when that happens in the big leagues, you throw your hands up because it’s stuck,” Collins said. “If it doesn’t come out, if it sticks under any pads — any pads at all — if the ball gets stuck, it gets stuck. That’s what his knowledge of playing outfield in the big leagues (was), so he threw up his hands.”
Keuchel threw five scoreless innings, giving up three hits and striking out five.
Harvey was tagged for six runs on seven hits and four walks in three innings.
Reed, Houston’s designated hitter, finished his day 3-for-4 with two RBI, three runs scored, two doubles and the home run.