Mets Game 33: Loss to Braves

Braves 8 Mets 7

You can’t say the Mets didn’t fight back.

They erased three leads by Braves during the ballgame, but couldn’t convert a fourth, as Atlanta outlasted the Mets in a dozen innings.

The Braves jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first frame, but the Mets tied it up in the bottom half. Then the Braves scored another pair in the third, but the Mets answered in the fourth with a Fernando Tatis grand slam to go up by two. The Braves scratched out one run in three of the next four innings to take the lead again, but the Mets came right back and tied it up in the bottom of the eighth. The games stayed that way until the 12th inning, when Martin Prado blasted a solo homer off losing pitcher Ken Takahashi. Unfortunately, the Mets were out of comeback juice for the day and thus the final score.

Notes

The Mets did rally in the bottom of the 12th, as Jose Reyes hit a leadoff double and was sacrificed to third by Luis Castillo. However, he was left stranded there as both Carlos Beltran and Gary Sheffield whiffed.

In a mysterious move, Bobby Cox removed starting pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes in the fourth inning with no outs, the bases loaded, and a two-run lead. Reyes wasn’t injured and had thrown 56 pitches. I guess Cox was just tired of seeing him out there. Even more curious was the choice of his replacement, Buddy Carlyle, who came into the game with a 1.80 WHIP. Why would you bring into a bases-loaded situation, a reliever who allows almost two baserunners an inning? As it was, Tatis sent Carlyle’s second pitch into dead center, just barely clearing the wall. Even the homerun apple was stunned by the series of decisions, as it stayed parked underneath and didn’t pop out to celebrate the grand salami.

Tatis was red-hot in this game, with three hits. Reyes had three hits of his own and a walk. Gary Sheffield also blistered the ball a few times, with one of his rockets going over the left field wall for his second homer of the season.

Jonathan Niese started the game and looked good. Unfortunately, looking good and performing well did not go hand-in-hand. At times, he appeared to have the Braves off-balance, but in the end he couldn’t get his big curveball into the strike zone, and was inconsistent with his change-up, so the Braves were sitting on his fastball. I don’t doubt he’ll be a decent pitcher some day, but he has a long way to go toward honing his craft. He’ll be best served in AAA, learning to perfect his secondary pitches. No need to demolish his confidence in MLB once Tim Redding comes off the DL.

Chipper Jones was intentionally walked twice, but that didn’t stop the man behind him — Garret Anderson — from driving in three runs on three hits and a sac fly.

J.J. Putz struck out two in the eighth, but also gave up two doubles and the tying run. Despite his claim that he’s been feeling “fatigued”, Jerry Manuel said on WFAN yesterday that Putz is “fine” and that “no one is being overused”. Perhaps Putz’s fatigue is due to an airborne illness or something else completely unrelated to his game participation.

Next Mets Game

The Mets begin a long West Coast swing tomorrow night in San Francisco. John Maine goes against Jonathan Sanchez in a 10:15 PM EST start.

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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. Eli From Brooklyn May 13, 2009 at 10:55 pm
    I would say Putz is being overused. It makes a lot of sense but I can’t be too sure to tell you the truth. It’s my guess….

    In a recent post, I wrote:

    Metsblog.com is reporting that according to Kevin Burkhardt, JJ Putz says he’s having trouble getting extra life on his fastball in the eighth-inning role. Putz, who is known for his split finger fastball, has not really used his split finger this year and it really is a shame. It was the primary factor in why he had 40 saves with the Mariners in 2007.

    For all those who are unfamiliar with the split finger and what exactly it does, let me explain. The “splitter” is thrown with the same arm motion as a normal fastball, but the adjusted grip causes it to behave quite differently. The ball appears to tumble in a knuckleball-like fashion; but it is much faster than a knuckleball. It is important not to touch any of the seams on the ball but rather you place your index and middle finger on the smooth part of the ball. Since these two fingers are off to the side of the ball, there is some slippage at release. This is desirable because it is this slippage that robs the ball of spin and causes it to run out of energy and dart randomly as it approaches the batter. A splitter will usually drop as it approaches the plate, and break to either the right or left.

    The problem arises though when the opposing team is knocking it around like a whiffle ball. In other words, the splitter is not splitting. Now I’m not much of a pitching coach, nor am I doctor but they say that the splitter is very difficult to control and stressful on the arm. Hence, the reason many pitchers do not use it or bluntly, can’t use it. The reason it is so stressful is that there is tension created in the upper arm as a result of the drastic split of the fingers. This has a tendency to lock the wrist up and prevents there from being any shock absorption at release.

    Could it be that due to Putz’s many appearances this year it has created stress on his arm causing him to rely on other pitches which frankly, don’t make Putz – Putz?

    Well, we all know one thing; if Putz keeps this up – he’ll really earn his name in New York.

  2. Eli From Brooklyn May 13, 2009 at 10:57 pm
    Oh, and I, too, was by the game today. Sat in (or is it on?) the Pepsi Porch. What a game. Awful ending but it will be a memory… (and the sun was out of this world…besides for the fact that it IS out of this world…)
  3. upson May 14, 2009 at 12:22 am
    …just got back home from the game – after a record-setting 6-hour drive. Well, not quite from the whole game as I only saw the bottom of the 12th inning. I dropped off a friend at JFK at around 4pm and arrived at Citifield just in time to see Reyes at the plate. (I was lucky enough to sneak into the ballpark through one of the less guarded gates in the left field.)

    I have to say one thing: I was stunned by how lame Mets fans actually are. I spent better part of the day stuck in NYC traffic while following the game on WFAN – and it appeared to me that it was a great game. A game definitely worth watching to the end.

    I parked my car near the ballpark exactly at the beginning of the 12th inning. By the time I got to the stadium I thought the game was over. There were hundreds of Mets “fans” walking out of the ballpark obviously not interested in the game at all — not even following the big screen visible from outside of the centerfield area. It took me 4-5 minutes to find a gate that was not guarded well while huge crowds were leaving the ballpark. I was convinced the game was over but still wanted to quickly check out the stadium and perhaps get an idea which seats to buy next time. Then I finally got to see the field, I was in disbelief: the Mets were down by only 1 run, Reyes was at the plate and there were ZERO outs.

    I could not believe it but there were not more than 10000 fans left. Maybe 15000, but I doubt that. I really do not get it. The Mets were down by one run with a top of the order coming up. The weather was just beautiful, the game was played in a brand new ballpark. Where are the fans that ask the Mets (and rightfully so) not to give up on any play? The second I saw the scoreboard, I was sure that I would see either a win or at least a couple of more innings. Too bad it did not work out that way…

  4. Eli From Brooklyn May 14, 2009 at 12:53 am
    I saw after the game was in its extra innings…most of the lower field seats became empty. The fans there had booked (corporate peoples, I assume) and once the corpses left – it looked pretty empty. Also, even worse, left field, in the section under the top bleachers, was amazingly empty later in the game. There were a little over 15,000 in my estimation, Maybe less.

    Either way, it’s inexcusable. Agreed.

  5. Walnutz15 May 14, 2009 at 9:44 am
    No Reyes talk??

    I wonder how many players can say they’ve used this quote 2 days in a row to the NY media?

    Tuesday Night:

    “It was good hitting and stupid base running,” Reyes said.

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/05…mets_169043.htm

    Wednesday Afternoon:

    “It’s just bad baserunning,” Reyes said.

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/05…ases_169173.htm

  6. isuzudude May 14, 2009 at 10:19 am
    This was a great game that could have gone either way. Wright (with his matador impression on the error in the 7th), Reyes (getting thrown out at 3rd and not hustling on his double in the 12th) and Putz (for allowing the go-ahead run to score in the 8th) are the goats, but in a 12-inning, see-saw game there’s bound to be some goats on both sides. I’m more pleased with the Mets’ performance after this loss than any other loss this season, mostly due to their resilience and the entertainment factor of the game itself. It sucks losing 2 out of 3 at home, especially to the Braves, but this may just be a scenario where you gotta tip your hat to the opposition and say let’s get’em next time.

    Now word is Niese is headed back to AAA to make room, once again, for Nelson Figueroa (which means hdarvick should be making another appearance shortly). I thought Niese pitched well enough against Pittsburgh to make another start, but seeing that it’s scheduled to be against the Dodgers in LA, maybe it’s wise to demote him now. I can only assumke Figgy’s latest stint with the Mets will last 4 days, as it’s hard to imagine the Mets not going with Tim Redding (and his $2.25-mil contract) for Monday’s start. And unless the Mets shed the ineffective Sean Green, or DL some unknown player, Figgy will be the guy, once again, to be DFA’d for Redding. At least we know Figgy will provide a solid long relief arm in San Francisco.

    Eli: I definitely agree that Putz has been overused, and you make a terrific point that his splitter probably isn’t helping matters. It certainly would be nice if Jerry would decide to leave a SP in to pitch the 8th every once in a while. The alternative may be dealing with the loss of Putz to a 2-month DL stint.

    upson: Though I believe 75% of Met fans are entirely too fickle and buy tickets just so they can boo a player after they strikeout, I think there is an excuse for the lack of attendence during the latter innings of the game yesterday. With it being a day game on a weekday in May, a large chunk of those in the crowd were kids on a field trip, as yesterday was some type of Physical Fitness Awareness Day or something. I’m betting, by the time 3:30 rolled around, most of those kids had to catch their bus to be home by 5 o’clock. Not only that, but since the game went 3 hours and 45 minutes long, a lot of other people wanted to leave to beat rush hour traffic or to get on time to some other appointment that afternoon. I’m sure there were a lot of unhappy people who really did HAVE to leave a very entertaining game. I’d cut the fans a little slack on this occasion.

  7. mic May 14, 2009 at 10:55 am
    Joe: back when i first started posting here i lived in the Seattle area…even took in a game.

    At that time reed was a rookie, and Putz and Soriano were in the pen, in fact i remember Eddie Guardado getting injured leading to the Putz becomng closer. While I was always impressed with Reed, i was not with Putz.

    I like Reed for this club alot. That said does he make Church tradebait? frankly as I have said since day1…I dont think Putz is here long term and I think it shows in his pitching. As much as we talk about DW’s costly error, Reyes baserunning gaffe’s I think the 6.0M set up man/closer needs to be doing a little better.

    Metsblog says Mike Antonnini may have travel in his future. If lamb is called up i think its just so they hold back on f-mart and Lamb might get thru waivers later. Agreed with Joe…they should bomb the Syr roster and start over.

  8. mic May 14, 2009 at 10:59 am
    ohh and Joe:

    I think all Mets fans deserve an apology…..

    It was ominous that you post ‘where’s Ollie’ only for him to show up at Citi dressed as Jon Niese……

  9. isuzudude May 14, 2009 at 11:19 am
    JJ Putz has appeared in 19 games and has pitched 20 innings out of the pen thus far, the highest combination for any releiver in baseball. He’ll be fine as long as Jerry doesn’t march him to the mound for every 8th inning in which the Mets are up or down by 3 runs.
  10. Eli From Brooklyn May 14, 2009 at 1:01 pm
    Lol, mic.

    Niese did resemble an Ollie. Let’s hope we don’t give him the 36 mill to make it look like a perfect match.