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Closer Look

Timo’s baserunning gaffe most egregious

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Posted: Sunday October 22, 2000 3:16 AM
Updated: Sunday October 22, 2000 10:36 AM

  Timo Perez Derek Jeter's relay was in time to get Timo Perez at the plate which kept the game scoreless in the sixth inning. AP

By Jamal Greene, Sports Illustrated

NEW YORK -- ¿Qué estaba pensando?

In a game in which each team seemed to be viewing the other's offense as a precondition -- permission? -- to scoring runs of its own, in which an extra run would have meant a Met win in regulation, Mets rookie right fielder Timo Perez committed a baserunning gaff that spelled boner in any language. Yes, young Timo, when you of prodigious speed failed to score from first on a line double to right by Todd Zeile with two outs in the top of the sixth inning of a scoreless game, what were you thinking?

"After the ball was hit, I raised my arms and lost two or three steps," said Perez through a translator.

Perez wasn't the only person in the park to think Zeile had gone deep. The ball kissed the lip of the right-field wall and caromed back onto the field. David Justice fielded the ball cleanly and fired it in to cutoff man Derek Jeter, who relayed a one-hopper to catcher Jorge Posada to nail Perez at the plate. When the ball appeared to land in the stands, Perez started jogging to second while making the home run signal with his hand. When he noticed Justice fielding the ball, he sped up, but he was too late.

The play was a rare mistake for the 23-year-old Perez, who has wowed fans and Mets personnel alike with his maturity ever since Mets manager Bobby Valentine handed him the starting right-field job in Game 2 of the National League Division Series. After Derek Bell went down with a knee injury in the first game. Perez went 3-for-5 and drove in two runs in his postseason debut and has provided the Mets with a spark plug at the top of the order ever since, hitting .300 with 10 runs scored and three stolen bases in nine postseason games entering the World Series.

On Saturday, Perez finally showed his youth. Had he been running on the swing, as he should with two outs, he would have easily been rounding third by the time Justice's throw was on its way. Perhaps, however, four years with Hiroshima of the Japan League is insufficient preparation for the first intracity game at Yankee Stadium in 44 years.

"It's something I'll gain experience from," Perez said. Said Valentine of the team's baserunning mistakes, "I don't think you'll see any of that again."

Indeed, if the Mets are to win this Subway Series, they'll have to hope Perez is only young once.


 
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