Mets Game 1: Win Over Nationals
Mets 3 Nationals 1
Mets beat the reigning NL East Champion Nationals and sit at the top of the NL East for the first time since April 3, 2013.
Mets Game Notes
Bartolo Colon was his vintage self, spotting his fastball in all four quadrants of the strike zone and at varying speeds, mixing in an occasional offspeed pitch and perhaps a bit of voodoo to keep the Nats hitters off balance through six innings, allowing only three hits and one run — the one blemish being a solo homer by Bryce Harper.
Meantime, two-hundred-million-dollar man Max Scherzer went 7 1/3 innings, didn’t give up a hit until the sixth, and allowed no earned runs on four hits, but walked away as the loser. Sometimes life just ain’t fair.
If you’re wondering what I think of Max Scherzer’s mechanics, I don’t like them. They scare me, and always have. Knowing more now than I did seven years ago (and realizing just how little I know in the process), what I can say for sure is that his arm is often behind where it needs to be at foot strike — not always, but sometimes. He also could do a better job of “releasing” his elbow after releasing the baseball. If you want to know what that means, listen to this podcast.
Colon induced a significant number of swings and misses on not-so-fast fastballs above the letters. Pay attention, kids — you don’t necessarily need to be a flamethrower to get strikes up in the zone. You do, however, need to spot your fastball all over the strike zone, as Colon does, and be sure to get the high fastball just a few inches above the strike zone — too high to be a strike, but not so high that the batter lays off. It’s a spot worth practicing, just as you would practice hitting spots at the knees.
After hacking aggressively in spring training, it was surprising to see the Nats taking sub-90-MPH fastballs from Colon that caught a lot of the plate early in counts with runners in scoring position. Maybe it had something to do with the shadows, maybe it had to do with it being early in the season, or maybe it was nothing but me over-thinking it. It seemed to me, though, that Colon got away with a few pitches particularly in the first frame.
It didn’t take long for Daniel Murphy to make his first error of the year — it came on his first chance of 2015. After backing up on a routine grounder (bad form, kids), he nonchalantly tossed the ball wide of Lucas Duda — and considering how wide The Dude is, that’s quite an accomplishment. Normally I’m critical of Murphy for his poor skill set, but in this case, it was sheer laziness. What the heck? The one thing we all (including me) love about Murphy is his intensity and hustle. He’s going to make at least a dozen errors due to poor footwork and bad decisions, and now he’s going to give less than full effort? Unacceptable, especially in the first inning of the first game of the year. If the error is somehow due to his hamstring injury, then he shouldn’t have been in the game. In this new post-steroid era, where pitching dominates and only a handful of guys hit 30 HR in a season, mistakes cannot be made in the field. Don’t believe it? Go back and review how the Mets scored all of their runs — all unearned, due to errors by Ian Desmond.
I’ve read a number of books and stories about Ted Williams, and it seems to me that there are some parallels in Teddy Ballgame’s young life with Bryce Harper. In particular, the fact that everyone in baseball seems to either not like or be jealous of Harper. Williams, from what I understand, was similarly disliked in his early years because he was brash, outspoken, and more talented than everyone else and knew it.
Mets killer Wilson Ramos didn’t hurt the Mets with his bat in this ballgame, but he made several outstanding stops of worm-beaters in critical spots behind the dish.
It’s difficult to make any judgments on the Mets hitters on Opening Day against one of the top 5 pitchers in baseball, but following are a few observations.
Scherzer had success against Duda pitching up in the zone. It will be interesting to see if other opposing pitchers attack Duda similarly, because he does seem vulnerable above the belt. That said I was stunned to see Scherzer try to sneak a belt-high fastball past Duda on a 1-2 count with two out and men on second and third in the sixth. I thought for sure Scherzer would “climb the ladder” again and get Duda to chase something chest high or above. Maybe that was the plan and Scherzer simply made a mistake, as Duda whacked the pitch for the Mets’ first hit of the game and what turned out to be the difference.
Juan Lagares still swings mostly with his upper half, at times lunging and reaching and not getting enough pivot from the back foot and therefore missing out on power from the hips.
Wilmer Flores, like Duda, was getting beat up in the zone. But that’s OK, because Flores isn’t in the bigs for his bat, he’s in the lineup for his glove. Oh, wait …
In contrast to Duda and Flores, Travis d’Arnaud struggled mightily against pitches down in the zone, particularly sliders, but had fun tearing into a chest-high breaking ball that he sent to the center field wall for a triple and RBI.
David Wright in the two hole? I like it, considering he’s annually the Mets’ top OBP guy. Additionally, it could be argued that Wright — no matter how hard he swings — may never again be the slugger he was in his mid-twenties.
Blevins did set the stage for 37-year-old Buddy Carlyle‘s first-ever Major League save. Carlyle became the closer when Jenrry Mejia suffered elbow stiffness while warming up in the bullpen. We’ll keep a close eye on this injury to see what develops.
The Nats starting lineup included Michael A. Taylor in the leadoff spot, Dan Uggla at second base, Yunel Escobar manning the hot corner, and (not Mary) Tyler Moore in left field. Not exactly what we expect to see from Washington, but that’s the best they can put out there right now. Good for the Mets to take advantage of DC’s undermanned troop.
The first six inning zipped right by in about an hour and a half, as Colon and Scherzer were extremely efficient after both drudged through somewhat perilous initial innings. Never mind the nonsensical new rules to speed up the game that will only shave maybe 10-15 minutes from a contest — you want a quick ballgame? It’ll happen with good pitching and umpires who call the entire strike zone. Make up your mind, MLB — do you want quick games with good pitching and fundamentals, or long games centered on offense? I’ll take the former every time.
As much as I like and respect both Nelson Figueroa and Jim Duquette, the SNY postgame just isn’t the same without Bob Ojeda. I only watched the postgame to get news on Mejia’s elbow. Otherwise, I’m sorry, there isn’t enough there for me to keep me from switching over to ESPN or Netflix after the 27th out.