Mets Game 115: Loss To Nationals
Nationals 5 Mets 3
Tough loss for the Metsies, as they drop down to 7 games below .500 and 9 games behind the first-place Nationals. Was it really just a week ago that Mets fans were starting to whisper the words “wild card?”
Mets Game Notes
Can’t blame this one on Jacob deGrom, who pitched another strong ballgame. It wasn’t spectacular, but gee whiz, it was certainly good enough — 3 earned runs on 7 hits and one walk in 6 innings pitched.
Jordan Zimmerman was just as good, however, so it was a battle of the bullpens.
There was talk by the SNY booth that one of the reasons deGrom might have been removed was because the Mets need to limit his innings. I can’t believe this is happening, and at some point I’ll address this in more detail. Bottom line is this: limiting innings is an illogical and arbitrary decision with zero scientific basis. I am aware of a sportswriter’s theory that has been cited from time to time but I’ve yet to see any hard fact or research proving that limiting a pitcher’s innings has anything to do with preventing injury. If someone out there knows of something that I haven’t seen, please point me to it — and make certain it is a document published in the scientific community, not some layman’s causality story that uses hand-picked examples that coincidentally fit a theory.
Why the Mets lost this game can be pointed directly to one play that occurred in the fourth inning. With lead-footed Adam LaRoche on second base, Ian Desmond lined a single to left-center. Juan Lagares allowed Eric Young, Jr. to scoop up the ball, and once Nats third-base coach Bob Henley (no relation to Don) saw that, he sent LaRoche home, who was just about to round third base. Young nonchalantly tossed the ball in to shortstop Wilmer Flores, who fervently fired to home a moment too late to put out the plodding LaRoche. In the process, Desmond advanced to second base, though that wound up being irrelevant. If Lagares picks up that ball and fires home, there’s a darn good chance that Henley holds LaRoche. If Young picks up the ball and fires home, instead of to Flores, there’s an outstanding chance that LaRoche is out by five feet. I’m not sure if Young was conceding the run, or if he didn’t expect LaRoche to head home, but he clearly wasn’t trying to put out LaRoche. Had LaRoche not scored, the Mets win this game 3-2 in regulation. #littlethings
Young did hit a sac fly in the top of the seventh to somewhat absolve himself (but not really). More importantly was the play just before Young’s fly — a wild pitch by Drew Storen that skipped by Washington catcher Jose Lobaton. It was a difficult pitch to handle because it didn’t reach the plate, and Lobaton attempted to glove it as an infielder might. If you have been a loyal MetsToday visitor, you may know the golden rule I teach catchers: NEVER try to glove the ball! Why? Because what usually happens is what happened to Lobaton — the ball gets away from you. Lobaton had a chance to block the ball had he moved his hands toward the ball, but fired them down to the ground, and allowed his body to follow behind his hands in an attempt to absorb and stop the ball with his upper body. He moved his hands properly, but instead of following behind them with the rest of his body, he rose up like an infielder and tried to stab at the ball with his glove. The ball got by and the runners moved up to second and third, creating the sacrifice fly situation. If Lobaton keeps the ball in front of him, maybe the runners don’t move up, Young’s fly is a harmless out number two, and Curtis Granderson‘s RBI single makes the score 3-2 instead of 3-3. #littlethings
On his 27th birthday, Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a pinch-hit single, scored the tying run, and made two brilliant, diving catches in extras — one of which was a game-saver, and both of which would’ve made both Ron Swoboda and Tommie Agee proud. It’s funny, during my entire amateur baseball career, whenever a fielder made a remarkable play, someone/everyone on the opposing team would yell “happy birthday!” In this case, it was appropriate.
By the way, did Gary and Ron really think that Harper was going to bunt in that situation?