Mets Game 121: Loss To Nationals

Nationals 3 Mets 2

If nothing else, the game had your heart racing to the very last out. And that’s ultimately what we want from a ballgame, isn’t it?

Mets Game Notes

Bartolo Colon deserved better. But then, so did Jordan Zimmerman. Something like 22 of Colon’s first 25 pitches of the ballgame were strikes, and then he fell down toward more human performance. In the end, though, he was his usual masterful self, allowing only two runs — one earned — on six hits and a walk in seven innings. Zimmerman went 6 1/3 and allowed only one unearned run on five hits and no walks. Both pitchers were hurt by sloppy play behind them, but persevered through the predicaments.

The Mets really and truly had a great chance to steal the win away from the Nats, as they caught usually reliable Rafael Soriano on an off-night and nearly gained a huge advantage on a steal by Eric Young, Jr. in a first and third situation. The throw from Nats catcher Wilson Ramos was off line but snared by Asdrubal Cabrera (whose solo homer in the 8th wound up being the difference in the ballgame). Cabrera caught the ball and tried to apply the tag behind him and between his legs; I’m still not sure how that ball didn’t get through the wickets and into the outfield. Even bigger than that play was Juan Lagares, in a no-out sacrifice situation, popped up his bunt attempt back to Soriano. Ironically, that play could’ve been even worse if Soriano allowed the ball to drop and turned to throw to second, because Lagares didn’t even run — it would’ve been an easy double play.

Another key play in that action-packed bottom of the ninth was Matt den Dekker getting thrown out at home on a grounder. It should’ve been routine — den Dekker was out by about 15 feet — but because Ramos was kind of, sort of, maybe blocking the pathway of the runner, there was an umpire review of the play. Hey, it was a good call by Terry Collins to take a shot at it — you have to challenge it — but if that had been overturned it would’ve been ridiculous. First off, it’s ridiculous that such an obvious out can be reviewed for that reason. Second, Ramos, when he originally set up his target, clearly had his left foot INSIDE the third base line, and giving a lane to the runner. The throw forced him to move toward and beyond the third base line and into the runner’s path, and that’s why it was a good idea to challenge — to the blind eye, at real-time speed, it could’ve been perceived as blocking the runner’s path. Thankfully, the umpires watching the video screens saw it that way too and made the right call.

Slight disagreement with Keith Hernandez in regard to the situation in the top of the seventh inning. The Nats had a man on second (Adam LaRoche) and none out with Ian Desmond at the plate. Before a pitch was thrown to Desmond, Keith explained that a hitter in that spot needs to try to advance the runner by hitting the ball the other way. I agree — IF the pitcher allows the hitter to do that. Desmond swung through two chest-high fastballs that were middle-in to fall behind 0-2, and Keith was exasperated by Desmond’s “selfish” decision to swing hard at those pitches. Here’s where I have to step in and defend Desmond (who wound up eventually stroking a single up the middle). Sure, it would have been ideal for Desmond to bounce a grounder to the right side and advance LaRoche. But, it’s kind of difficult to hit a middle-in, letter-high, 92-MPH fastball the other way — Derek Jeter can do it, because Jeter tries to inside-out nearly every pitch that comes his way. What is the best goal when a batter sees a letter-high fastball moving middle-in? Driving it to an outfield gap. And a drive to the outfield gap is going to EASILY score even a clod like LaRoche. So I don’t have an issue with Desmond hacking at those pitches — he was working with what Colon was giving him.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Mets found themselves in a rally opportunity when, after getting men on first and second, Washington catcher Wilson Ramos attempted to pick Matt den Dekker off first, but LaRoche apparently didn’t receive the communication, and the ball was thrown up the right field line, allowing den Dekker to advance to second and Lucas Duda to third. Keith asked, “when the catcher doesn’t see the first baseman covering, why can’t he eat it?” From experience, I’ll explain exactly why: because when a catcher is trying to pick off a runner, it has to catch the runner by surprise, and it has to happen very quickly — so there is no time for thought or decision. It’s kind of like when a football offense decides to go on two huts instead of one to draw the defense offsides — you have to blindly trust everyone on the offense to know what’s happening, and catch the defense by surprise. If someone forgets, the play fails, and that’s that — it’s a team effort, and the center can’t, in mid-hut, quickly snap the ball when he realizes that the left guard is about to jump prematurely. Unfortunately for Ramos, he’s the one charged with an error, even though it was LaRoche who missed the communication (though, I suppose it could be argued that it’s Ramos’ fault the communication failed). If such a play is on, to get the runner it’s going to be bang-bang — if the catcher allows something other than reaction get in the way of execution (such as checking for a split-second to make sure the first baseman is moving toward first), there’s almost no chance of getting an out. Further, by hesitating for that split second to take a look, the catcher likely will affect his timing and throwing mechanics and throw the ball away. Oh, and for those wondering if the catcher can kind of take a look down to first while the pitch is coming in, to see if the first baseman is breaking, no, that’s not a good idea — a 90+ MPH pitch is difficult enough to handle cleanly when you have two eyes focused on it. It’s a play based on timing and trust, and it has to operate one way, at one speed, to succeed.

Michael Taylor occasionally looks like a deer in headlights, but he also seems to have a really good idea of the strike zone, and he appears to have rare athletic talent, and I’m betting he’ll be a star one day. When? Maybe later rather than sooner, but the tools are there.

Next Mets Game

Mets and Nationals do it again at 7:10 PM on Thursday night. Dillon Gee faces Stephen Strasburg.

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.
  1. Gabriel August 14, 2014 at 7:48 am
    Hey Joe. A report from yesterday indicates Collins is coming back next year. I don’t like this a bit. For me Terry has a terrible in-game strategy, his line ups sometimes are puzzling (to say the least) his bullpen management reminds me of Jerry Manuel (enough said) and he gets easily irritated by the press’ questions. His only bright point is that he is regarded as a great motivator and players love to play for him, but that hasn’t translated into sucesss. I know the team has holes and argument can be made that he is playing the cards he was given (then Alderson is the problem) but a skipper must put his players in the best position to succeed and many times Terry fails to do that. I believe the current roster is not this bad. Am I being to harsh om Collins? Your thoughts.
    • Yeats August 14, 2014 at 11:33 am
      TC has done OK. He’s pretty much driven the team to the record it’s talent level indicates it should have. His bullpen management has been fairly typical of modern-day baseball managers. For folks who complain about the lineup, do you think that TC makes these decisions in a vacuum? Sandy’s calling the shots on the lineup card.

      Now, despite the fact that some Mets fans probably think I’m President of the Terry Collins Fanclub, I’m not sure that he’s the kind of guy who can take a *good* team to the next level. Just a feeling, and I hope that next year I’m proven wrong.

      Here’s what’s killed the Mets this year, and we hardly ever hear about it: David Wright. I love him, but he’s stunk. If he’s having a typical David Wright year – .300/.380/.500 – the Mets are (W)right around .500 and maybe (but I’m doubtful) the Mets make a move at the trading deadline.

      • Enrique August 14, 2014 at 11:51 am
        David Wright healthy; 290–15HRS, 65RBI–can help right now. he is not alone, Granderson, Tejada (FLOP), the outfield except Lagares, catching (pass balls, not throwing runners out) , pitchers can’t field, bases loaded no outs or one out, bunting with no outs, walking batters, walking hitters with no outs, walking to load the bases, etc. Too many mental errors, Wright is not alone in this. Oh, the Youngs–oh–why not Cruz deal.
        • Yeats August 14, 2014 at 12:40 pm
          We (Mets fans) knew/feared what Tejada was. David Wright is the one Met who is underperforming drastically. Curtis Granderson’s performance is in line with his stats from the last coupe of years, I was not a fan of signing him.
    • Enrique August 14, 2014 at 11:38 am
      Collins decision making process is horrible. Lagares can’t bunt, he fails miserably at this and why he continues to ask players to do jobs they are not confortable, is baffling. he can’t manage the pitchng period and the pitching coach should take some heat as well. The hitting coaches need to take some heat on the lineup. Granderson hitting leadoff is not the answer. Try Lagares, he was a little successful in he beginnng of the year. Wright is having a bad year, mainly, he is stil injured. But, he needs protection in the lineup. Duda is ok, but he is not a consistent or respected threat. The Mets need a big bat in this lineup and Duda can hit 5th, a less stressful position for him. Granderson should be 6th, if that. The Mets should have acquired Cruz, there is no excuse for that. Young, OMG, please, look what happened. Mets continue to look for cheap solutions, that will get you what we have now. The management continues to deny there is a financial problem and the fans are tired of their lying. if they dont, prove it this off season and bring on a big bat or two. We need a veteran pitcher ie. Doug Fister type, to go along with Harvey, Niese, Wheeler, DeGrom, et al. I don’t see Gee in their future, maybe long relief. Trade some assets, but with caution. Montero is not ready….yet. We need power in the outfield, enough said. let’s spend to go in line with development. It is time, the Yankees are dying, it’s time for the Mets to take over New York City! It’s been time, seriously.
      • Yeats August 14, 2014 at 12:53 pm
        No excuses for David Wright. It’s not injury (if he is injured) his pitch recognition is horrible. He flinches at pitches down the middle of the plate.

        Word is Nelson Cruz did not want to come to Citi Field unless he had a huge contract. Better for him to play one year in a bandbox like Camden Yards and amass 40+ HR, then sign a bog deal.

        Why do the Mets needs a “Doug Fister type”? Colon has way more experience, Niese has nearly as many starts as Fister and is younger.

        How about everybody stop blaming coaches, and blame the players? *They* are the ones who are failing in the clutch.

        • Enrique August 14, 2014 at 1:16 pm
          Colon is 41, waiting to break down. Niese, injury prone. We need a solid veteran who can pitch and provide leadership. What we have is not working, Colon, i respect him but we need some leadership. Niese is not a leader nor he is reliable. Harvey, in my opinion can be a future leader of the rotation but he is raw. We need leadership, we lack it since Delgado. I am a die hard Mets fan and I may be looking too hard. Nevertheless, what we have is not working. Collins and staff needs to be replaced, they had their chance. What the Mets need is a new philosophy….maybe.
    • Enrique August 14, 2014 at 11:45 am
      Well said, agree, agree, agreed!
  2. DaveSchneck August 14, 2014 at 8:54 am
    Don’t look now but San Diego has passed the Mets in the wildcard race and in their own quest for meaningful September games. 10 straight losses at home to the Nats. I’m not sure how Collins and the front office expect a strong finish when the Mets continue to lose tight games and assist the opponent’s cause throw lack of execution. Maybe they have it backwards…maybe the record is an indication that the run differential will worsen. Three runs in last two games, not good at all. Tulo is now out of the trade mix as is Stanton, perhaps the best plan is another bottom 10 finish and protected pick. Boy this Collins era is a lot of fun.
    • Enrique August 14, 2014 at 11:44 am
      It’s fun to see what the Padres are doing with less talent. Look at Kansas City…wow. If only the Mets can get it done. Man, I wish. I think the key is great pitching, bullpen, and timely hitting. Mets have some pitching, defense is getting better. They need to find their identities, plus up their strengths, add big bats. Big plus for the future, a decent leadoff hitter. I may be asking too much from this management. (keep lying to us–Maydoff et al.)
    • Yeats August 14, 2014 at 12:58 pm
      It’s not the Collins era, though, it’s the Alderson era. TC is the puppet, Alderson pulls the strings.
  3. Bat August 14, 2014 at 9:34 am
    Tulo out for the year with a hip injury.

    I keep saying that all of these leg injuries for a guy in his late 20s is very worrisome.

    What is going to happen over the remainder of his contract as he enters his 30s?

    His frequent visits to the DL are very concerning if you are planning on backing up the prospect truck for him.

    • Yeats August 14, 2014 at 12:55 pm
      I agree, as much as I like Tulo, the injury history makes one hesitate to sign him to an ARod-esque contract & give up top-flight prospects.
  4. Yeats August 14, 2014 at 1:00 pm
    Is it just me, or is Ron Darling more and more sounding like a grumpy old man who wants the kids to get off his lawn?
    • Joe Janish August 15, 2014 at 1:34 am
      Ha! I’m glad you said it, because I couldn’t — I’ve been screaming at those damn kids for a few years now.
  5. david August 14, 2014 at 8:50 pm
    Mets about to get swept at home by the Nats, again. Deflating to say the least, but also totally predictable.

    TC gets the axe because this team has a poor record year in, year out under his stewardship. Is it any more complicated than that? To me it is not.

    If Sandy is serious about getting the Mets back to respectability, then it is high time he made the tough decision and brought someone else in. It is not change fro change sake, it is change because this team does not win enough with TC as the manager.