The rookie hit Hank Conger in the ribs on a 2-2 count with his 51st pitch Friday night, forcing home the winning run in the 11th inning of New York’s 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
Raul Ibanez led off the 11th with a single against Familia (0-2), advanced on a wild pitch and went to third on a grounder to shortstop by David Freese. Then the Mets intentionally walked Howie Kendrick and J.B. Shuck to set up a force at any base.
“Well, your options are pretty limited,” Collins said. “You either play the infield in and create a bunch of holes or you try to set up some force plays. It’s the big leagues and I know he’s a young guy, but actually has thrown the ball very well lately. And I wasn’t worried about him walking anybody. You’ve got to do what you’re supposed to do, and that is get a forceout at the plate and go down to the bottom of the lineup if you can. Conger hasn’t played a lot, so you play the cards.”
The strategy backfired, but Familia understood it.
“Sometimes you have to do that - walk the guy and try to get a double play,” he said. “So you just try to keep going, pound the zone and try to get groundballs.”
Conger didn’t mind taking one for the team, especially because it resulted in a win and his first RBI of the season.
“With bases loaded, your job is to try to somehow get on base so you’ll drive in the run. So I was just trying to get a pitch up because I knew a sac fly would do,” said Conger, who entered on defense in the ninth after catcher Chris Iannetta was replaced by a pinch runner. “I just went up there trying to battle him.”
The run ended a string of 18 2-3 scoreless innings by Mets relievers after they allowed 13 earned runs in the team’s first four games.
Kyle Farnsworth helped keep the streak going when he retired Albert Pujols on a grounder with the bases loaded to end the eighth. Pujols came up again in the 10th with two on and hit a bouncer back to Familia for the third out.
Michael Kohn (1-0) pitched a perfect inning for the win.
Travis d’Arnaud homered for the Mets and Josh Satin hit a two-run double.
Dillon Gee was charged with four runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings, the first time in 20 starts that he failed to get through the sixth. He gave up a solo homer to Mike Trout in the first and a two-run shot by Shuck that tied it 4-all in the sixth.
“It’s really frustrating. Today was just not a good outing all the way around,” Gee said. “I didn’t feel really good and I struggled with command, walking as many guys as I did. So I just tried to battle through it and grind it out. This was one of those days where I had trouble finding the release point I wanted.”
Gee walked the bases loaded in the fifth, but escaped when Satin fielded a grounder by Ibanez that hit first base and bounced high in the air.