Mets Game 107: Loss To Phillies
Phillies 6 Mets 0
So much for a sweep.
Mets Game Notes
I mean that sincerely — after seeing the Mets tee off against A.J. Burnett on Monday night, I thought for sure that the Phillies were dead and going through the motions, the Mets had momentum, Cole Hamels would toss his usual dud in Flushing, and Kyle Kendrick would get destroyed on getaway day. It was a perfect storm, it seemed, for the Mets to sweep at home, get the fans excited, and hammer in some of the last nails of the Phillies’ coffin.
Instead, Hamels pitched against the Mets the way he pitches against everyone else — effectively. He had the Mets hitters flailing at change-ups that disappeared from the horizon and jamming themselves on fastballs. It didn’t matter that Josh Edgin choked and allowed Chase Utley to put the game away with a grand salami — the Mets offense couldn’t get out of its own way, looking nothing like the lumber company that mashed Burnett’s offerings on Monday night.
So, what changed between Monday and Tuesday, besides the starting pitcher? Hmm … I’m taking a really close look at this … oh, there’s something, right, there, on the lineup cards. Grab my magnifying glass … see? It’s right there, in the middle of that list of names — on Monday night, the name “Lucas Duda” appears, while on Tuesday’s card … are you seeing this? There IS NO DUDA. Isn’t that weird? Go ahead, use the magnifier and check that entire list — I’m telling you, you’re not going to see those four letters (well, actually it’s only three letters, since the “D” is used twice). It’s really baffling, I know, but isn’t forensic investigation fun and effective?
OK, the Mets very well may have lost anyway if “The Dude” was in the lineup. But one really has to wonder — really, really struggle to think — exactly why the hottest hitter on the team, and one of the hottest hitters over the last week, was not in the starting lineup. Why? Why, why, why, why, why? And this is coming from someone who has absolutely NO faith in Duda’s ability to keep up his current pace through the end of the season. Yet, even I, Mr. Doubting Thomas, can recognize that hot is hot and one should never play with fire.
Don’t you sometimes wish that the official Mets Twitter account could be used for ACTUAL social media purposes — i.e., communication between people — rather than for marketing purposes (i.e., hyping the product and artificially interacting with the “consumer”)? Because then we could just send a tweet at the Mets account and ask “just why the heck was Chris Young in the lineup and Lucas Duda on the bench?” Was it because the Mets front office is hell-bent on keeping their promise of playing time to the perpetually slumping Young? Was it because someone in the stat room ran the numbers, read the horoscopes, checked the biorhythms, and determined that the current moon phase wasn’t in line with a Duda vs. Hamels showdown? Was it Terry Collins applying old-school theory, and with a lefty on the mound, you have to squeeze as many righthanded bats into the lineup as possible?
Hey, I’m fairly ignorant and impatient when it comes to stats, but I am well aware that Duda’s numbers against lefties are godawful, and Hamels is holding lefthanded hitters to an anemic .587 OPS. But guess what? All of those numbers represent the past, not the now, and not the future. Odds are good that Duda would have failed against Hamels, for sure — but this isn’t a card game. It’s baseball, it’s pitcher vs. hitter battling mano-a-mano. And right now, Duda is hitting better than he ever has in his MLB career. His confidence is like an erupting volcano. He’s as hot now as he’ll ever be. So why sit him down?
It’s not about rest; if it were, Daniel Murphy would have been rested as well (and would have rested at some point this year — is he EVER going to get a blow?). The corporate line, I’m sure, is that Duda deserved a rest, and/or, they didn’t want him to be discouraged or cooled off by Hamels’ hellacious stuff. (If the explanation was made publicly during the postgame or somewhere else, I missed it — I had much better things to do after this game ended.) Isn’t sitting Duda down against one of the toughest lefties in the league just as damaging as Duda striking out four times against Hamels? What kind of message are you sending to a player — who has exhibited confidence issues in the past — by sitting him in the middle of a hot streak? In the middle of him carrying the club?
And even if it was statistically the “right” thing to do, why the heck should the stats matter? Again, the numbers represent what happened, not necessarily what will happen. This particular game means absolutely nothing to the Mets — nor the Phillies — in terms of the 2014 World Series Championship. There is no way either club is going to make the playoffs, much less get to the World Serious, so what are these final 55 games about? I would assume they’re about figuring out what to do for 2015, right? One of the things to figure out is if Duda is the real deal, right? If he’s the slugging cleanup guy the Mets always dreamed he’d be, right? And if he is, that means he would play every day he could get out of bed, regardless of who is on the mound. He’d be taking days off on those getaway day games that start at 12:10 PM — not in games that matter, against the toughest pitchers in the league. Are you with me on this? Or am I missing something? If you’re still with me, and you want to believe Duda is a true “Dude’s Dude,” then what better time to put him to the test against the best of the best than RIGHT EFFING NOW? This isn’t about whether the Mets win or lose the game, it’s about whether Duda can pass the test. He needs to do it for himself more than for anyone else. You’ve seen his intense focus, his widened eyes, his confidence oozing (yes, that’s been confidence pouring down his cheeks, not sweat) — can you imagine if he simply went 1-for-4 with a single against Cole Hamels in this game? Imagine if he got caught out in front of a change-up and, via the lunging luck of Ike Davis, accidentally struck the ball so perfectly in front of home plate that it was jerked just inside the right field foul pole and over the fence? He’s already on cloud nine; that kind of blast would send him to cloud twelve.
Instead, Lucas Duda sat on the bench, part of some larger strategy we mere mortals could never understand, that may have had something to do with saving Duda’s thunderstick for just the right moment, while also making sure the immortal Eric Campbell “got some reps” and Chris Young was “kept fresh, since he’s hitting good (sic) right now.” (Nothing against Campbell, by the way; it would have been fine to have him playing left field. But I don’t think anyone is right now wondering if Campbell could be the answer at 1B — not while Duda is unloading on pitches the way he has been.)
Is it me, or is this chronic coddling of Duda baffling and possibly damaging? Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. Let me know in the comments.
Next Mets Game
The rubber match begins at 12:10 PM on Wednesday afternoon. Zack Wheeler takes the hill against Kyle Kendrick.