Catcher Francisco Álvarez made a heads-up play in the ninth inning of Wednesday's game with the Cubs, possibly saving the game. Photo Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports Aug 9, 2023; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Phil Bickford (50) celebrates with New York Mets catcher Francisco Alvarez (4) after defeating the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

While the season has unquestionably been a massive disappointment for the New York Mets, one undeniable has been the emergence of their rookie catcher, Francisco Álvarez. In Wednesday’s game against the Chicago Cubs, made a great play, only one that doesn’t show up in the box scores.

Pitchers struggled in adapting to the new pitch clock earlier but since the first part of the season, they seem to have gotten into a groove. But it’s still an issue sometimes. With the Mets clinging to a 4-3 lead, Chicago’s Ian Happ came up with the bases loaded and two outs. At one point, it seemed inevitable that pitcher Phil Bickford would be charged with a violation. But thanks to a heads-up move from Álvarez, that didn’t happen.

Seeing the second on the clock rolling down, put his arm up, making a fist but moving his fingers. Then, as the clock ticked down from two to one, Álvarez popped up out of his crouch and sprinted toward Bickford for a mound visit.

Now, using a mound visit to prevent a violation is something catchers have done all season. But the catcher literally sprinting to the mound to make sure that everyone in the stadium knows what’s going on? That’s a new one.

And baseball fans had a strong reaction to Álvarez’s play.

How big was the play? It’s hard to say. Bickford was ahead in the count 1-2. So, even if Álvarez hadn’t gone to the mound, Bickford still would have been in the driver’s seat with the count 2-2.

On the other hand, Bickford getting a chance to reset could have helped. Furthermore, while Bickford still would have been in the driver’s seat at 2-2, the difference between 1-2 and 2-2 is not insignificant, especially with the bases loaded in a one-run game. Bickford’s next pitch was a high fastball, out of the strike zone, which Happ swung and missed, ending the game. Who knows if Bickford would have tried for a corner in a 2-2 count, knowing a ball would bring a full count and force Bickford to come in.

We can’t say that Álvarez’s heads-up play saved the game. But we can absolutely say that it didn’t hurt the cause.

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About Michael Dixon

Michael is a writer and editor for The Comeback Media. He is Bay Area native living in the Indianapolis area. Michael is also a big nerd when it comes to sports history and to a slightly lesser extent, all history. Beyond that, loves tacos, pizza and random Seinfeld quotes.

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