ST. LOUIS — Carlos Beltran didn't appear in the St. Louis Cardinals' 5-4 victory over the New York Mets on Monday, but he played a huge role in the outcome.
Beltran was in the Cardinals' indoor hitting cage when Andres Torres appeared to lead off the ninth with a double to right.
Beltran noticed on the television that Torres didn't touch first as he rounded the bag. As Torres was being checked out by New York's training staff after a hard slide into second, Beltran hustled into the dugout to tell manager Mike Matheny of Torres' miscue.
When the game resumed, closer Jason Motte stepped off the rubber and threw to first baseman Matt Carpenter to appeal the play, and fill-in umpire Dave Rackley called Torres out.
Motte then retired two of the next three hitters for his 33rd save.
"I was in the cage and I was watching (Torres) running," Beltran said. "When he hit the ball, he was running and looking at the ball. He never looked at the bag. I saw sand coming off around the bag area. I went in and told (Matheny), 'Let's try to throw to first. It appeared he didn't touch first base.'
"We had nothing to lose in that particular part of the game. The umpire was looking down (at the base), so he really got a good look at what (Torres) did. He called him out, which was great."
Beltran said Matheny looked "surprised" to see him arrive in the dugout with news that Torres might have missed first.
"He was kind of looking at me like, 'This guy's not playing today. He's acting crazy,'" Beltran said, adding that he and Matheny exchanged a high-five after Rackley made the out call.
Neither Torres nor first-base coach Tom Goodwin argued the call, although manager Terry Collins engaged briefly with Rackley.
After the game, New York players yelled at Rackley from the dugout as Rackley and the other umpires, Toby Basner, Dan Iassogna and crew chief Dale Scott walked off the field.
Rackley told a pool reporter after the game that Torres' left heel never made contact with the base.
"He went over the front corner (of the bag) with his toe and it just kicked dirt up onto the base," said Rackley, who works big-league games when regular umpires are on vacation.
Rackley said he was certain he made the correct call.
"That's what I told Terry," he said. "I wouldn't make that up."
Beltran did not start for the second consecutive game because of lingering discomfort in his left knee, but Matheny was glad Beltran was paying attention as he took some swings under the stands.
"We're saying our MVP of the game today is Carlos Beltran, who never hit the field," Matheny said.
"I'm watching the play in right field; I watch Shane (Robinson) stumble. Carlos came up and said, 'Something didn't look right there.' He also noticed that the umpire was standing right on top of the bag. At that point, we have nothing to lose.
"It was an absolutely huge play."
Motte was backing up second and was unaware of what was transpiring until catcher Yadier Molina told him to step off the mound and throw to first.
"I got back on the mound, and Yadi told me to come set, step off and throw to first," Motte said. "I was like, 'OK, it's probably not going to work.' I stepped off, threw it and the umpire called him out. I was like, 'Hmm. That's a sweet way to get an out.' That definitely hasn't happened in my career."
Scott said he and the other umpires watched television replays immediately after the game that indicated Torres missed the base.
"It was exactly what (Rackley) described," Scott said. "His foot went over (the bag), the toes hit the ground, the heel never did (hit the bag). And did you see where (Rackley) was? He was right there to make the call."
Scott said there was additional proof that Rackley made the right call.
"Tom Goodwin never argued," Scott said. "And you would think that if (Torres) touched the bag and he's the potential tying run, he would say something."
"If you touch the base right there and you get called out ... Myself, I would get thrown out of the game if I touched that base," Beltran said. "(Torres) didn't really react to it, so I guess he didn't touch it."
Cardinals second baseman Skip Schumaker, who hit his first home run of the season in the fourth, said players fail to touch bases more than one would imagine.
"I see it happen quite often," he said. "Not too many umpires really call that. So for a (fill-in) umpire, it's pretty impressive that he actually called that in a big situation. I'm glad he got it right."