Mets Game 59: Loss To Giants
Giants 5 Mets 0
Call me “Joe Jinx.”
Mets Game Notes
For the first time in about a week, I decided to sit down and watch a Mets game. It was white noise while I did the laundry, made dinner, and putzed around taking care of things around my spacious 400-square-foot studio apartment. I didn’t pay much mind to the bottom half of innings, as I was more interested in watching Noah Syndergaard‘s delivery.
By the sixth inning, I realized there was a good chance I’d be watching the entire ballgame, and began paying closer attention — to both halves of each inning, but in particular, the bottom halves.
As you know by now, rookie Chris Heston threw the first no-hitter of 2015, the first rookie to do it since Clay Buchholz in 2007, the first no-hitter against the Mets since
2003 1993, the 17th in Giants history (9th as the San Francisco Giants), the fourth in four years by a Giant, and the seventh against the Mets in the Mets’ history. Oh, and Heston had two hits and 2 RBI.
It will likely go down in history as one of those “fluke” no-hitters, by a relatively unknown entity — a list that includes the likes of Bobo Holloman, Bo Belinsky, Don Black, Jose Jimenez, Philip Humber, Bud Smith, and Joe Cowley, among others.
Did I mention that Heston was DFA’d — and then RELEASED — by the Giants in 2013 to make room on the roster for Jeff Francoeur? Ouch.
Was it more about Heston’s effectiveness or the Mets hitters’ ineffectiveness? Hmmm …
Did home plate umpire Rob Drake “help” Heston? Certainly, there were one or two pitches in the bottom of the ninth that may have been gifts, or Drake caught up in the excitement. At the same time, Drake was calling “pitchers’ pitches” all game, for both sides. There was an old adage taught to me a hundred years ago, prior to the homer-happy, swing-from-your-heels-with-two-strikes approach of the PEDs era: “if it’s close enough to be called a strike, it’s close enough to swing.” Or something like that; the older I get the more memories fade.
Meanwhile, Syndergaard was less than dominating, allowing 4 earned runs on 10 hits in 6 innings. There were remarks by GKR suggesting that Syndergaard was “doing what he was supposed to do” and was perhaps the victim of “bad luck” due to “soft hits.” Maybe I was watching a different game, or maybe folding the laundry was distracting me, but what I saw were a few well-timed soft-hit singles intermixed with more than a few hard-hit singles, a few very hard-hit outs right at perfectly positioned defenders, and a few hard-hit balls turned into double plays at precisely the right times. I saw far too many pitches thrown by the young righthander, far too few swings and misses from Giants hitters, and runners on base in five of the six innings he pitched.
The positives: Syndergaard hung around the upper 90s and flirted with triple digits with his fastball, which he was able to throw for strikes most of the time. He showed a change-up and curveball that have some promise. The negatives: though he threw it for strikes, Syndergaard didn’t have command of the fastball — he couldn’t put it where he wanted to put it within the strike zone. He had zero command of his offspeed pitches AND couldn’t throw them for strikes most of the time.
Further on the negative side, my untrained eye without the benefit of multiple angles and high-speed video identified at least three dangerous flaws in his motion that could lead to arm injury. First, his arm is behind at foot strike, which puts undue strain on the shoulder. Second, he brings his throwing hand too close to his ear, which puts further stress on the shoulder (Johan Santana had a similar issue) and some stress on the elbow. Third, it doesn’t look like he fully “releases” his elbow after releasing the baseball — his arm kind of recoils — which puts stress on the elbow during deceleration. (For what it’s worth, Heston also has this flaw, though it’s more obvious.) In the unfortunate event that Syndergaard suffers an elbow or shoulder injury in the near future, we may hear something to the effect that “injuries are inevitable for pitchers who throw as hard as he does.” Well, maybe, though there isn’t much real research behind that right now. Make a mental note: all three of these flaws are easily correctable and would allow Syndergaard to pitch BETTER, not worse. But if he doesn’t have the right person to apply the changes, then the poor kid is stuck, isn’t he? Expect the Mets to “not fix what ain’t broke,” a philosophy followed by nearly all MLB teams. It’s easier to remain ignorant and count pitches, mostly ignore warning signs of serious injury (i.e., forearm strains), hoping to stave off the “inevitable” injuries of pitchers with flawed mechanics, than try to find solutions to ease the pain, make pitchers more efficient and effective, and prevent injury.
Dillon Gee made his first relief appearance since 2011. It didn’t go so well. My bet is the Mets will trade Gee within the next two weeks, rather than carry him as dead weight in the bullpen.
Was anyone else annoyed with an entire half-inning dedicated to an interview with the jockey of American Pharoah? A few questions, OK, as long as it is interspersed with play-by-play (which it wasn’t … where is Kevin Burkhardt when you need him?). And is it me, or do all jockeys sound like they just sucked the helium out of a balloon? (Was that politically incorrect and/or somehow insensitive?)
No-hit? No worries — the Mets remain in first place. Isn’t that all that matters?