Mets Game 5: Loss to Nationals

Nationals 4 Mets 3

It wasn’t even that close.

If you simply checked the boxscore, or watched a postgame report, you might have been deluded into thinking that Oliver Perez pitched well and the Mets played tough but lost a close contest.

But if you watched the game, you’d know better: Perez was lucky to have allowed only four runs in his 5 2/3 innings of work, and the Mets were lucky to have scored as many as three runs.

Because what really happened was this: the Mets, thanks to terrible defensive play by the Nationals, loaded the bases with no outs in consecutive innings, yet managed to score only two runs. It would’ve been only one run, actually, except Perez hit a Luis Castillo-like weak flare just beyond the reach of shortstop Ian Desmond to plate one of those two runs. Pure luck.

Meanwhile, Perez allowed 4 hits and walked four batters in less than six innings. He squeaked out of certain danger in the fourth when, with men on first and second and one out, and Ollie struggling to find the plate, John Lannan popped up a bunt to David Wright that turned into an inning-ending double play. If not for the DP, the Nats likely would have scored at least another run, as Perez was poised for implosion. Had you seen him pitch in his final frame, you probably were amazed he managed to get the two outs he got — he was missing his target by YARDS.

Am I being too tough? Too negative? Maybe. But its THE NATIONALS. If Ollie and the Mets are going to struggle against what is likely the worst team in MLB, if they cannot capitalize when they are handed golden scoring opportunities, if they can’t smell blood and stomp on AAA-like teams that are beating themselves, what is going to happen when they face true contenders?

Game Notes

Oliver Perez began the game in good form, taking time in his windup to get into a good, balanced leg lift, gathering his energy, and driving straight toward the plate with forward momentum. Gradually, though, his ideal “up and down / back and forward” motion gave way to the side-to-side, unbalanced delivery that wreaks havoc with his release point and causes him to see David Wright face-to-face at the end of his follow-through. Consequently, his pitches go all over the place, his confidence wavers, and next thing you know, Mr. Hyde is on the mound.

Jose Reyes made his greatly anticipated 2010 debut, and was notably rusty and out of sorts. He admitted before the game to being a bit nervous, and it showed during the contest. Reyes was over-anxious at the plate and seemed confused in the field. But hey, this was his first full-speed, MLB game in almost a year — it may take a week or two for Jose to get back in the swing of things (pardon the pun). I’m not concerned.

In contrast, David Wright has no excuse for his continued shoddy play in the field. He made another error, on another poor sidearm throw. In years past, we heard about Wright working extremely hard on his defense — could he be slacking a bit, now that he has a Gold Glove on his mantle? Or is there a confidence issue?

I suppose it’s not fair to come down hard on Oliver Perez when, after all, the Nats’ Yankee-like, All-Star lineup is so high-powered that slugger / RBI machine Willy Taveras hits in the 8-hole. Taveras has to be the best #8 hitter in baseball, much like Robbie Cano was in 2009. Taveras hit a single and a triple and drove in all four of Washington’s runs. Interestingly, the ultra-aggressive Taveras saw only 14 pitches in his 4 at-bats — less than anyone else who played the entire game, for either team. Figures, the one guy Perez shouldn’t be throwing strikes to, is the one he was throwing strikes to.

Ryota Igarashi was able to retire the slugging Taveras in a very tough, 9-pitch at-bat that went full count, with Taveras fouling off several pitches, to end the sixth inning with runners stranded at second and third. I’m not sure what’s most wrong — that it took 9 pitches to dispose of the free-swinging Taveras, or that the eventual strikeout was seen as such a highlight and key point of the game. Are things that bad already, that I have to be excited when a Met pitcher is able to retire Willy Taveras?

Tyler Clippard made minced meat of the Mets, striking out 7 in three scoreless innings. He struck out the heart of the Mets’ lineup on 12 pitches (10 strikes) in the seventh — including Jason Bay on three straight fastballs. Clippard also ripped a single up the middle in his one at-bat.

Ryan Zimmerman left the game early with tightness in his hamstring. I can’t believe I’m hoping he’s out of the lineup Sunday so the Mets have a better chance to win. Maybe things ARE that bad?

Next Mets Game

The rubber match occurs at 1:10 PM on Sunday afternoon, and ironically pits the Mets’ two best starters in 2009: Johan Santana and Livan Hernandez. The losing team will finish the weekend in the NL East basement.

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. CatchDog April 11, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Remember when David Wright was a decent defensive third baseman? As previously mentioned, I too cringe when a ball is hit in his direction. His throws to first have become an adventure. Also, on hard hit balls, his first steps appear to be back. Not good. Time will tell, but at the alarming rate of defensive miscues so far this season, I wouldn’t rule out the possiblility of a position change sooner than later.

    The word was that David would eventually end up over at first base with possibly Wilmer Flores or Jefry Marte taking over the hot corner in three years or so. But with Ike now heir apparent to first, perhaps right field is more apt David’s future destination.

    It’s going to be a very interesting season for #5.

  2. isuzudude April 11, 2010 at 9:15 am
    Prediction: David Wright gets traded before he switches positions. Not for nothing, but for every errant throw and botched grounder, David is also making spectacular diving grabs to turn in DPs (like yesterday) and incredible catches (like on Friday, where he was playing SS in the Adam Dunn shift and sprinted to make a great over the shoulder catch in foul territory). So, to be fair, while Wright’s defense is inconsistent, it isn’t deplorable. And since he’s proven to be of a Gold Glove caliber if he works hard enough, I’d much rather him work on correcting his wrongs rather than throwing him in some other position on the diamond where he’d likely struggle even more.

    So far in games Maine and Ollie have started, the Mets are 0-2. I wonder what that record will look like at the end of the season.

    Johan vs Livan on Sunday. If the Mets can’t win the series with that pitching matchup, we might as well mail in the season right now.

  3. Mark April 11, 2010 at 10:21 am
    Another thing that worried me about Perez yesterday was his velocity – I (perhaps naively) hoped that, following his offseason surgery and conditioning program, his fastball would consistently sit in the 90+ range. While the weather conditions were tough, I saw his fastball sitting in more of the 88-89 range. Perhaps you can get away with it against the Nationals, I don’t see that being successful against other teams.

    Also, I read on Metsbog that they’re sending Green to the DL. While I get the desire to have a second LH in the pen, I would rather see them bring up someone capable of pitching a complete inning (Calero, if he’s healthy) to take the load off Nieve who seems to be up – if not pitching – pretty much every day. Calero, if he’s healthy, would be the logical choice.

    Btw, has anyone heard anything about whether Escobar is throwing is throwing or has that ship sailed?

  4. Walnutz15 April 11, 2010 at 11:37 am
    RE: Green

    I was under the impression that Green would definitively, 100% without a doubt — go down with an injury — the second I saw that ridiculous masking-agent he called a “delivery”.

    Have to say that this was much sooner than I anticipated, however.

    No loss here….but it does point to the rationale behind some of us here, defending Figueroa’s spot on the roster (more so from a “long-man” standpoint, rather than him being the “next coming” – as so many who don’t like him like to use in conversation.)

    P.S. – Congrats to Raul Valdes for making his 1st Big League roster, ever. Only the Mets.

    Just a slew of roster mis-management to start this season; with strange decisions from the starting gate.

    With regard to Calero, I see many calling for his services….and had read this toward the tail-end of last week (not sure if anybody ever posted it).

    Might wanna take note, from Jayson Stark.

    Bullpen roulette:

    Kiko Calero allowed 36 hits in 60 innings for the Marlins last year. Mike MacDougal pulled into Washington last year and saved more games (20) after June 15 than Francisco Rodriguez. So where are they now? In Triple-A. Naturally.

    It tells you all you need to know about the fickle nature of modern relief pitchers that, even as two dozen teams were desperately hunting for bullpen upgrades late in spring training, nobody would touch either of those two men after they failed to make the Mets and Nationals’ staffs, respectively. (MacDougal, for that matter, couldn’t make two teams — the Marlins, who released him, and then the Nationals, who sent him to the minors.)

    “With Calero,” said an executive of one team that passed, “the medicals are so bad that everybody’s wary. It’s just hard to count on him staying together [physically] for any length of time at all.…rumblings100408

  5. Mike April 11, 2010 at 12:30 pm
    And yet the bullpen really has not been a problem yet. I think Nieve does need to be used less (Jerry will work him into the ground) but so far everyone has done at least a competent job. Ollie and Maine are the two problems and everyone saw this coming. Pelf and Niese I believe can win 12 games at least a piece. Having two crap shoot pitchers is not unheard of for a winning ball club, but the problem is there is no clear number 2. We have an ace, a number 3, a number 4, and two 5s. If this team is still competing in June, Maine needs to be scrapped for an acquired pitcher (Ollie ain’t going anywhere). Honestly if Maine even begins to show anything and strings together a few good starts, I’d trade him to anybody stupid enough to take him for just about anything. At best Maine is a 3, and this team needs a 2 desperately.

    Offensively I’m frustrated with the team but Bay is a notoriously slow starter and Reyes just came back. Naturally things are still “incomplete” as far as potential of the lineup.