Roughly 45 minutes before Mickey Callaway cursed out a Mets beat reporter in the clubhouse on Sunday -- with Jason Vargas threatening to knock the reporter out -- Callaway's non-move on the field arguably cost his team the game.
That non-move -- and questions about it -- helped lead to Callaway's blowup, but was then buried after the manager's explosion. Let's excavate it...
With the Mets leading the Cubs, 3-2, heading into the seventh inning, Callaway turned to Seth Lugo in the hope of getting two innings out of him. After Lugo worked around a one-out single while striking out two in a scoreless seventh, it was clear he didn't have it in the eighth inning as he allowed a hard-hit single to Kyle Schwarber before a one-out walk to Anthony Rizzo put runners on first and second with one out.
With Robert Gsellman warming up and Edwin Diaz sitting in the bullpen, Callaway allowed Lugo to face Javier Baez. The result was a game-changing three-run homer on Lugo's 42nd pitch of the day.
"I just wasn't executing pitches," Lugo said after the game. "I was kind of out front. ... not a good day for pitch execution."
So why was Lugo left in to face Baez?
"He's our best reliever," Callaway explained. "We were up one run. We know that when he has the opportunity to go the seventh and the eighth, he's going to do it. He squeaked through the first one, made some big pitches and we had the confidence he was going to do it again the next inning. We had the guy that hit the homer 0-2, we executed two really good pitches to him, and he just hung a slider."
Callaway further explained that Lugo was going to face Baez no matter what, and that Gsellman was going to come in after if things went wrong. As far as Diaz, Callaway said he would've used him for four outs, but not five. And he got testy with a reporter (not the one he cursed out) when further pressed about the usage of Diaz.
It was clear that Lugo didn't have his good stuff on Sunday, with the reliever himself admitting it -- making it highly questionable that Callaway didn't lift him with runners on first and second in the eighth.
Whether Callaway should've turned to Gsellman to clean things up or instead turned to Diaz for the five-out save is debatable, but either would've been a better option than Lugo in that spot.
Also curious was Callaway's openness to use Diaz for four outs, but not five -- since it's never known just how many pitches it will take to record an out. But the fact that Diaz wasn't even warming up in the eighth probably tells you all you need to know about what the plan for him was on Sunday.
While Sunday's loss was later overshadowed by what happened in its aftermath, what Callaway did on the field was far more important than what happened off of it.