Mets Game 161: Win Over Astros

Mets 5 Astros 1

Only one more to go.

The suddenly inspired Mets took another one from the ‘stros in front of the hometown crowd, despite missing cavalry members Carlos Beltran and David Wright from the lineup.

Pat Misch was impressive once again, allowing one run on five hits in five frames.

The offense took advantage of the Houston outfielders’ unfamiliarity with expansive Citi Field, getting several extra-base hits resulting from poor positioning and judgment of balls off the outfield wall. Carlos Lee, in particular, had a rough afternoon, with several balls going off his glove and/or falling safely behind him.

Brian Stokes, Pedro Feliciano, and Sean Green threw 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief before Frankie Fantastik came on in the ninth to get the last out of the game and earn his 35th save.

Notes

In a fabulous, heads-up play by Kaz Matsui early in the game, Josh Thole was thrown out at home on an infield ground ball that was knocked down by Lance Berkman. Catcher J.R. Towles did an excellent job of blocking the plate, and the SNY crew suggested that Thole’s best plan of action would have been to bowl over Towles. Gary Cohen added that the last Met to knock over a catcher in a play at the plate was Ty Wigginton in 2004.

Hard to believe, but I think Cohen’s right. Ballplayers today avoid contact at the plate as a rule; I suppose it comes from the fact that most youth leagues have rules that disallow physical contact, and players develop the instinct to slide at all times. Perhaps also, the players today are too palsy-walsy with each other and don’t want to be “a bad guy” by doing something that might incur injury on another player. That’s too bad, because that’s not the way baseball is supposed to be played. There was and should continue to be a physical element that includes contact. People are quick to point out the Pete Rose – Ray Fosse tragedy, and indeed there have been a few frightening and career-ending incidents, but a handful of those over the course of 100+ years is not enough reason to change the way you play the game. Once in a while, a situation warrants the runner attempting to clock the catcher — and in those situations, it’s usually more dangerous for the runner to be sliding. Personally, I’d prefer to see a little more passion, fire, and aggression when it comes to trying to score. (I’m not singling out Thole; you can point to just about every Met and most MLBers who have the same defensive, “always slide” approach — it’s the way the game is played today.)

Thole’s triple gave the Mets 48 for the season, breaking the old team record for triples in a season — which was 47 in 1978. Hard to believe that the ’78 Mets held that record, especially when you look at their roster that year. The only guy on that team that you would qualify as a legitimate “speedster” was Lenny Randle, who had 8 three-baggers. Remarkably, the team’s stolen-base leader in ’78 — John Stearns with 25 — had only one triple. (Stearns, btw, set a record for stolen bases by a catcher that season … what a bizarre year.)

Stearns also was the man who clocked Dave Parker in Gary Cohen’s “favorite home plate collision” (mine too). The 6’5″,240-lb. “Cobra” came steaming into home plate like a freight train but the 6′, 185-lb. “Bad Dude” held his ground and upended Parker — busting Parker’s cheekbone in the process.

Hard to believe that Sammy Gervacio had a 1.15 WHIP and 2.25 ERA through 28 appearances coming into this game. His mechanics make it almost impossible for him to command his pitches — his front shoulder flies open way early and stride foot lands a good three feet to the left. As a result he has no balance, his momentum is going sideways rather than toward the plate, and his release point is wildly inconsistent. I suppose the wacky motion throws hitters off, but how long will that last?

I like Sean Green’s new submarine style, though he’s having trouble adjusting to it. His command is not great with it but with time it should take some strain off his elbow and thereby allow him pitch more often without a loss in effectiveness. If you are a longtime MetsToday reader, you know I’m a big fan of the submarine arm motion for several reasons.

Fernando Tatis and Cory Sullivan had a combined 9 plate appearances while Nick Evans remained on the bench. Perhaps Jerry Manuel wants Evans to finish the season on a high note, and feel good about Friday’s triple all winter.

Last Mets Game

For the first time since 2005, we know for sure that game 162 is the last one of the season. Brooklyn native Nelson Figueroa faces Nicaraguan Wilton Lopez in a 1 PM start on Sunday afternoon.

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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.