Ruben Tejada takes responsibility for failure to cover second base

NEW YORK -- Ruben Tejada took responsibility for failing to cover second base on a play that opened the floodgates in the Pittsburgh Pirates' 8-1 win against the New York Mets on Sunday.

Tejada, shifted into the hole at shortstop, did not reach second base in time to accept a throw after Bobby Parnell fielded Michael Morse's comebacker and initiated a double play. Rather than two outs and none on in the seventh inning with the score tied, Pittsburgh had runners on the corners en route to a four-run frame.

“I’m late to the bag,” Tejada said.

Asked whether shifting made it more difficult to get to the bag on time, Tejada replied, “a little bit,” but added: “The next time I have to play a little more close to the bag.”

Said manager Terry Collins: “The guy who was covering has got to be there. End of story. I didn’t see the replay. I heard the throw was OK.

"We try to put our guys in defensive positions depending on who is pitching and the situation. You know what? If you can’t get there [to second base], you’ve got to move. You’ve got to be able to get there. Bobby got the double-play ball he needed to have. We didn’t make the play.”

Collins went on to rail against singling out Tejada. Second baseman Daniel Murphy appeared to be screened while backing up the play, so the ball wound up in center field.

“The part that really gets me sometimes, we’ve always got to point a finger at somebody. It’s always somebody’s fault,” Collins said. “Sometimes it’s not just one guy. Maybe it just happens. It’s part of the game. We didn’t make the play. We’re supposed to make the play. But I’m not going to lump it on one guy’s shoulders that he was two steps over too far, or the throw was too fast. Everybody is sitting there on the bench, ‘Well, jeez, he should have crow-hopped. He should have been closer to the bag.’ Make the play. It’s the big leagues.”

After the Pirates completed a sweep of the six-game season series, Collins spoke with his team, reminding them where they reside in the standings. The Washington Nationals were swept in San Francisco on Sunday, so the Mets maintain a 4½-game division lead.

Pittsburgh outscored the Mets 37-10 in six meetings this season. The Mets never led in any of the games.

“I just finished telling the guys, and I believe it in my heart as I’m sitting here: If any of you guys sitting in this room would have told me on May 15 that with 44 games left in the season we’d have a 4½-game lead, I’d take it,” Collins said. “I’ll take it. As bad as this game ended up looking, I’ll take it.”

That said, Collins acknowledged being concerned about Parnell. He now has a 14.14 ERA and opponents have batted .429 against him in 10 appearances since July 22.

Parnell, who did not make himself available to media postgame, was the choice for the seventh inning because Hansel Robles was unavailable after logging three innings Saturday and because Carlos Torres needed to be held back for long relief in case the game went extra innings.

Collins figured Parnell would fare OK with the bottom of the Pirates' lineup due up. Instead, Parnell walked No. 8 batter Pedro Florimon ahead of the ill-fated double-play attempt.

The crowd jeered Parnell, as it had on Friday when he was charged with a pair of runs in the 10th inning.

“We turn a double play, we don’t hear that [booing]. We’re out of the inning," Collins said. “That does bother me a little bit.

"And I am a little concerned about Bobby. One of the things that we’ve seen is this roller coaster that these guys coming out of [Tommy John] surgery have. One day last week he was 97 [mph]. This week wasn’t as good.”

On the team’s overall state, Collins added: “We’re tired right now. We’ve played hard. We’ll take the day off and get after it in Baltimore. We had a terrible two innings in a row in a good weekend. We played very good baseball until the seventh inning of today, so we’ll move on.”