Mets Game 153: Loss to Braves

Braves 5 Mets 2

Hope springs eternal. Except in Flushing, in September, 2009. Unless you’re a Braves fan.

The Mets helped keep the Braves impossible Wild Card hopes alive by rolling over early.

I have to admit hope drained from my spirit immediately after Atlanta scored their fourth run, in the third frame. Yet I continued to stare at the TV screen, for the same reasons I’ve watched bad movies in the wee hours, despite knowing full well how it would end and that the story wasn’t going to get better.

Technically, Mike Pelfrey threw a “quality start” — allowing 3 earned runs in 6 innings pitched. In reality, he was ordinary.

Tim Hudson also threw a quality start, expending 18 less pitches in the same number of innings. However, Hudson’s was of slightly higher quality, and in the end he earned his second win of the year.

More happened, but, eh … the notes are more interesting.


The Mets put their leadoff hitter on base in six consecutive innings, but only scored two runs in that span. They were 2-for-17 with RISP, and left 10 on base.

Nice to see Mike Pelfrey using his curveball a little more than usual in this outing. I would have also liked to have seen more (any?) changeups, but hey, you can’t have it all.

Pelf’s sinker wasn’t sinking consistently — it was often just “running”, meaning, it was moving horizontally and not vertically. Ron Darling noted this often occurred with runners on base and suggested that it could be due to Mike holding the ball a little tighter — a function of stress. That’s plausible. Also possible is a different grip on the ball. I would check the location of his thumb, as it could be a little too far “up” or on the side of the ball, rather than more underneath it. The higher the thumb is on the side, the more it will run and the less it will sink. Also, there could be an issue with the way he’s finishing the pitch (which could be related to the grip). If he is holding the ball more tightly, he may not be allowing his fingers and wrist to pronate through the release. Full pronation with the fingers on top of the ball and the thumb finishing pointed toward 5 o’clock is ideal for good sink.

Strange to see Tim Hudson unsharp — which is expected considering this was only his fifth start of the year. Even without his legendary command, he was able to get out of a number of tough situations thanks to double plays.

That was the key difference between Pelfrey and Hudson in this game. Both pitchers struggled at times, and both had their defense fail behind them to put runners on base and/or extend rallies. But Hudson stayed cool, got tough, and wiggled out of those spots, while Big Pelf tightened up, talked to himself, and let runners cross the plate.

If you didn’t have a scorecard and relied on Keith Hernandez, you might have thought Matt Diaz was playing both right and left field for the Braves. Yeah, I’m nitpicking, but c’mon, Keith.

The trivia answer was Bert Blyleven (the only HOF-eligible pitcher with 3000 Ks not in the HOF), and Gary Cohen noted that Blyleven completed 242 games in his 22-year career. How incredible is that? Consider that the Mets AS A TEAM have amassed only 214 complete games over the last 22 years. Yowza, things have changed. But hey, let’s keep going with those inane pitch counts, OK?

Once again we were treated to the one-two combo of Ken Takahashi and Elmer Dessens out of the ‘pen. We’re really get a good long look at both pitchers this September. Why?

Perpetual Pedro Feliciano also made an appearance — his 83rd of the season — with the Mets down by three in the eighth. Again, why? Is Jerry Manuel trying to rip Pedro’s elbow to pieces?

Mike Gonzalez kind of reminds me of Oliver Perez, the way he’s all off balance, can’t repeat his mechanics, can miss his target by several feet, but throws 93+ MPH with a nasty slider that is unhittable for LH batters.

I noticed that David Wright was keeping his bat on his back shoulder until the pitcher started his motion. This is new, right? It’s a technique that Don Mattingly advocates, to put your hands and the bat into the ideal launching position. I guess he’s using it partly for timing and partly to, um, get his hands in a good position. Perhaps HoJo believes Wright’s hands were a bit too high, creating a long, loopy swing.

Bobby Cox announced that 2010 would be his final season as a manager. He’ll stay on with the Braves in a consulting role after that.

Next Mets Game

The Mets get a day off (funny, seemed like they took the last three days off) on Thursday, and will travel to Miami to face the Marlins for a three-game weekend series. Game one begins at 7:10 PM on Friday night and pits Tim Redding against Ricky Nolasco.

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. Walnutz15 September 24, 2009 at 8:06 am
    Quick question (since I haven’t seen the Box Score):

    Did they wind up changing that LaRoche “hit” to an error on Murphy? He booted a pretty routine play, in which he’d either get a force out — or turn a double play….yet the official scorer awarded him a “hit” on the play.

    It was bad…..and ridiculous that it was scored as such. The booth was more or less silently shocked about it.

    Unfair to Pelfrey; overly generous and coddling of Murph.

  2. joejanish September 24, 2009 at 9:26 am
    ‘nutz – wow, you admit to watching the game?

    Far as I can tell it remains a hit.

    BTW something that I keep hearing every broadcast: “…it gets by Murphy …”

  3. Walnutz15 September 24, 2009 at 9:59 am
    I know, Joe.

    Looking at the box-score earlier, Murphy WASN’T charged for an error last night — and another “earned” run was tacked onto Pelfrey’s line.

    That would’ve been Murph’s 11th error in less than 100 games at 1st base.

    That’s bad, even while learning on the job.

    He’s got alot of things going on in his head when an actual decision on the play has to be made (last night — it was a situation where he could’ve had a force-out, thrown home to attempt a play there, or possibly turn two).

    This seems very similar to his stint in LF, where he’d have trouble on where to throw the ball — hitting cut-offs, etc.

    There’s a reason why he hasn’t gotten comfortable at a position. He thinks far too much in the field.

    And yes, I started to watch the game — only because my girlfriend had orientation night at school.

    I turned it off for good right after that play.

  4. isuzudude September 24, 2009 at 11:10 am
    I don’t know if I would label Hudson as “unsharp” last night. I would actually say he was extremely sharp as he generated 19 ground ball outs, including 3 DPs, opposed to just 1 flyball out. He only struck out 3, but he’s never been known to strike out double digit batters. He gave up 9 hits, but most were seeing eye singles. In fact, out of those 9 hits, none went for extra bases, so it’s not as if the Mets were hitting anything hard. His performance is exactly what we were hoping to get from Pelfrey all year.

    Good to see the Mets turning back the clock and stranding a small country on base. Ah, hope did spring eternal back in April.

    I concur that the Murphy blunder should have been an error. I think the scorers for the game are starting to get a little too sympathetic for Murphy and his incessant struggles. My god, is he really our #1 option for 1B next year? Ick.

  5. Walnutz15 September 24, 2009 at 1:26 pm
    Agreed; whole-heartedly….there’s not a single bone in my body that doesn’t feel LaRoche probably had a “Seriously?” moment after that play occurred last night.

    Pretty funny; yet common-place at Citi Field. Where things are nothing remotely close to what they appear to be these days.