Mets Game 130: Loss to Astros

Astros 8 Mets 3

It was not a good day for John Maine. Anytime you give up a homerun to David Newhan, things are not going well.

Maine was rocked for 8 runs on 10 hits and 2 walks in 5 2/3 innings, including 2 homeruns, in a 105-pitch effort. The Mets’ difficulty in coming back from that deficit was compounded by the spectacular pitching of Brandon Backe, who did not give up a hit until the fifth inning and allowed only five in seven innings. Backe ran out of gas in the eighth, when for the second day in a row Brian Schneider drove in Ryan Church with a homerun to cut the lead to 8-3. Unfortunately it was too little, too late for the Mets, who suffered only their second loss in the last two weeks.

Notes

Why did it take until the eighth inning to see Brian Stokes enter the game? Stokes began warming up in the bullpen in the third, when Maine was struggling and allowed four Houston runs. I’m really not sure what these “professionals” — meaning Jerry Manuel and his coaching staff — are seeing, or thinking about, while Maine showed an obvious lack of confidence, consistently missed location, and threw with either wacked out or forced mechanics. Rather than looking at the process that affected the outcomes, Manuel and staff focused on the outcomes. From my point of view, Maine was lucky to allow “only” eight runs — he was missing location on nearly every pitch, and got away with several pitches over the middle of the plate and/or high in the zone. It was as though Manuel was hoping Maine would continue to skirt the inevitable — or was “willing” him to succeed in spite of the fact he had absolutely nothing. This is different from Pedro Martinez pitching with “guts” when he doesn’t have his best stuff; Maine had no command, poor velocity, no breaking pitch, and is still (in my opinion) hurting. Furthermore, why do you have Brian Stokes warming up so early in the game if you intend on leaving Maine in for a few more frames? After giving up five runs in the first three, and looking as awful as he did, do you expect him to suddenly find control and velocity? Manuel should have thanked his lucky stars the ‘stros scored only five, and moved on to Stokes to keep the game close. It’s easier from a mental standpoint to come back from a 5-1 game than from an 8-1 deficit.

Before I get off the soapbox, I have one more thing to say: it’s time to shut down John Maine. As I stated several times already, his mechanics are a disaster, and now he’s pitching in pain. Put him back on the DL, send him down to work on his mechanics with Randy Niemann (or Joe Janish), and MAYBE we’ll have him back in time for the postseason.

Both Jose Reyes and Ryan Church went 2-for-4 for a double. Church is picking up right where he left off before going on the DL.

Duaner Sanchez was once again ineffective in his one-third of an inning. He gave up two singles, allowing both inherited runners to score, before inducing a popout from Geoff Blum to end the sixth. Duaner hit a wall about a month ago, and he’s another guy who might have to be shut down for a few weeks. A guy can’t miss a year and a half and be expected to pitch effectively through 55 of a season’s first 130 games.

Next Game

The Mets and Astros play the “rubber game” on Sunday afternoon at 1:10 pm. Oliver Perez goes against Randy Wolf in a battle of the lefthanders. Catch the game on CW11, WFAN, or XM 183.

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. sincekindergarten August 24, 2008 at 7:57 am
    Pretty expletive-deleted bad. Though, I can see Newhan’s motivation for doing well–he was pretty much a backup while he was here.
  2. isuzudude August 24, 2008 at 8:17 am
    SK, I’m sure Newhan’s .203 average didn’t help his case to be given a bigger role on last year’s team.

    Darling was actually noting during the game that Maine’s velocity was pretty much back, around the 93-94 range. But any amateur could have seen that Maine was all over the place with his stuff, which is ultimately what got him into trouble. It seems like Maine has been that kind of pitcher ever since we got him, though. He’s “effectively wild.” He always walks more than you like, and will occasionally miss location within the strikezone, but his stuff his good enough where it still keeps batters out of rhythm and on their toes. For example, there were a ton of swings and misses on Maine’s change up last night. And his change up ain’t crap unless his fastball is providing enough disparage in velocity. Maine’s health is still a big concern to me, but I’m more apt to chalk up his bad outing last night to a team that was hitting his “wild” fastball. If he had been throwing no more than 88-89 MPH last night – even if he went 6 shutout inning – I would definitely say it’s time to shut him down because something is amiss. But for now I’m just tipping my hat to an Astros team that took care of business and hope Maine can get ’em next time.

  3. joe August 24, 2008 at 9:10 am
    Darling taking note of the 93-94 MPH fastball is exactly what I mean by measuring a performance by the result, instead of the process.

    First, Maine’s velocity should be around 95-96, but I won’t split hairs over a few MPH. I wasn’t watching the radar gun — I was watching where he was breaking his hands, where the momentum of his body was going right before release, and taking note of the release point itself. On the majority of pitches, everything was off. His hands are breaking too late and too far back; his front shoulder is flying open too early and his weight is falling off toward first base; his fingers are to the side or under the ball at release. These issues were the reason you saw nearly every pitch — fastball, changeup, slider — end up in the same spot: up and in to RH / up and away to LH. You look at his face and his expression tells you he has no idea where the ball is going, and no idea why.

    To get his velocity going, Maine was whipping his hand around faster than normal — this further threw off the rhythm of his regular motion, and likely did more damage to his tender shoulder. That’s why the radar gun can’t be trusted.

    Brian Schneider generally sets his target where he wants the pitch thrown. Maine missed that target by a foot or more the majority of the time. I realize Maine is not known as a “control” pitcher but you can’t be that far off that often and succeed at the MLB level.