Mets Game 116: Win Over Phillies

Mets 5 Phillies 4

A.J. Burnett is making it clear that he would like to remain in Philadelphia through the end of the 2014 season.

Mets Game Notes

I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I turned off this ballgame after Carlos Ruiz flied out on the first pitch he saw with one out and down 5-1 in the bottom of the 7th. It looked to me like the Phillies were listless in general, and even though Marlon Byrd finally broke the shutout to start the inning, Ruiz’s hacking away in a situation when he should’ve been taking was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was sure that the Phillies had packed it in for the night.

So imagine my surprise when I checked the boxscore this afternoon and saw the Phillies fight back with three more before the 27th out. Naturally, I needed to go to the DVR and watch the bottom of the ninth.

I realize that Dana Eveland was charged with two of the three runs scored by the Phils, but Jenrry Mejia was far from excellent, and it was two hard-hit balls immediately off of Mejia that vastly changed the course of the game. Grady Sizemore‘s double to right was about 15 feet from being a game-tying grand slam. Mejia certainly has shown nasty stuff, but he doesn’t profile as a “fireman.” If you’re as old as me, you know what I’m talking about, and understand the difference between “closer” and “fireman.” The former starts the ninth inning of a game in which his team is winning and can usually finish it without losing the lead. The latter is someone who can come into a tight situation, regardless of inning, and “put out the fire.” Goose Gossage, Sparky Lyle, Bruce Sutter, and Chad Bradford were “firemen,” while Bob Stanley was not. Get it? I’m often befuddled by Terry Collins‘ bullpen decisions, and this was no exception. If Collins was intent on Mejia closing out the game, why not have him start the inning? Just because two lefthanded hitters — Chase Utley and Ryan Howard — were the first two up? Is Collins aware that Eveland is not particularly effective against lefthanded hitters? In fact, that LHs have a higher batting average against him? And that this has been the case his entire career? Was Collins trying to get this win without using Mejia, because there was a four-run lead? If so then why was Mejia warming up in the bullpen and ready to go? Maybe I’m being too critical, but if the plan was to have Mejia finish out the game, and you believe he is your best option after removing Bartolo Colon, then put him in the game to start the 9th to face the best and most dangerous hitters the Phillies have to offer — don’t put a journeyman lefty who’s not really a LOOGY in there just because there are two lefty hitters starting the inning. This is why I hate the entire matchup system, and why I always felt Mike Scioscia had the right idea years ago when he refused to carry a lefthanded reliever just for the sake of having a lefty in the bullpen — Scioscia carried the best pitchers that were available in the organization, regardless of handedness. Maybe there are stats arguing that’s the wrong idea, but I’d much prefer putting the best arm available to finish up a game than going with someone based on handedness.

Colon, by the way, won his 200th MLB game. A small golf clap for Tony Bosch.

As alluded to in the opening, A.J. Burnett was again awful. He seems to be playing out the string, going through the motions, and waiting for the season to end. There does’t appear to be a physical issue, from what I can see — he’s just tossing half-hearted fastballs over the center of the plate and looking annoyed when they get smashed. Kudos to the Lamar Johnson Mets hitters, who appropriately took advantage of Burnett’s BP pitches and bounced them around Citizens Bank Park like a pinball machine. I really, really have to wonder if the Mets would have been as aggressive, and scored 5 runs on 11 hits in six innings against Burnett, if Dave Hudgens was still the hitting coach.

Travis d’Arnaud keeps on hitting. I told you he’d be fine, eventually, and eventually has arrived.

During one of Kevin Burkhardt’s sessions he relayed the focus of Zack Wheeler‘s bullpen session. It seems Wheeler is working on shortening his stride, which is a good thing because it’s far too long. None of the explanation of why he and Dan Warthen have chosen to shorten his stride makes any sense at all, but at least they’re changing something that needs to be changed, even if they don’t understand why. Kind of like an Inspector Clouseau method of solving crimes. Now, if they can stumble on the idea of eliminating the elbow-above-shoulder action that Wheeler uses when he takes the ball out of the glove, they may be a step closer to preventing the currently inevitable shoulder injury in Wheeler’s future. It would also help to eliminate bullpen sessions two days after a start, but now I’m getting greedy.

Next Mets Game

Mets and Phillies do it again on Saturday night at 7:05 PM. Dillon Gee faces Cole Hamels.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.