Mets Game 13: Win Over Cubs

Mets 6 Cubs 1

Lucky 13 for the Metsies.

Jon Niese had a so-so outing, keeping the Mets in the game through almost 6 innings but not hanging around long enough to see the win through. In other words, a spectacular start compared to what we’ve seen from most Mets starters thus far this year. A shame, how low we’ve had to drop our standards.

But let’s not harp on the negative; the Mets won! Jason Bay broke out, Ike Davis went 2-for-4 in his MLB debut, the offense had an explosion in the seventh (off legitimate MLB pitching) and the bullpen held up the lead. What more could you ask?

Game Notes

Ike Davis made his much-heralded debut a success. If he turns out as we hope, ten years from now a great trivia question will be, “what number did Ike Davis wear in his Major League debut”? The trick answer, of course, will be, “42”.

Speaking of Davis, I’m happy to have the opportunity to see him play right now. But please, please, PLEASE STOP with the John Olerud “comparisons”. He doesn’t resemble Olerud in any way, shape, or form other than the fact he hits lefthanded. You know what former MLBer Ike reminds me of? RON Davis. Striking resemblance, I’d say. Otherwise, he’s his own man — let’s sit back and watch him grow into whatever that will be, rather than creating some image to shoehorn him into.

Jason Bay broke out of his slump. This could be the beginning of a hot streak.

Angel Pagan continues to rake, and Gary Matthews Jr. continues to strike out. Pagan hit his first homer of the year and GMJ K’d for the 12th time in as many games.

Jon Niese paid a bit too much attention to John Maine’s last start, because he kept the ball up in the zone (but was getting called strikes up there) and threw far too many pitches (112 through 5 2/3 IP). Though, he did get at least a half-dozen swings and misses. Additionally, he looked a bit different to me in this game. It appears as though his arm slot has dropped from straight overhand to more three-quarter, which can be a better angle for getting movement, but takes bite away from his best pitch, the curveball. That angle also was causing him to get “under” the ball, meaning, he was releasing the ball with his fingers at the side of the ball or almost underneath — which causes the ball to move more sideways and up. Generally speaking, you want to stay “on top” of the ball, meaning, release with the fingers literally on top of the ball, which tends to make the ball sink. What he was doing worked well in this particular game, so it’s hard to argue with the execution. However, it will be interesting to see what happens if/when he runs into an umpire who doesn’t call that high strike.

The SNY crew kept referring to one of Niese’s pitches as a “cutter”, and maybe that’s how Niese identifies it, but it is a slider. A “cutter” is a “cut fastball”, so called because it is thrown with a fastball arm action but with a grip that is shifted slightly off-center from across the four seams. The result is a fastball that “cuts” slightly — just a few inches at most. However, what Niese is doing is modifying the grip AND turning his wrist slightly counterclockwise — which is a slider. Why does it matter? Because with a slider, the fingers slide to the side of the ball and the thumb turns up toward the sky, which puts pressure on the elbow. Niese already puts a lot of pressure on his elbow with the overhand curve, so there is concern that an injury will be sustained in that area at some point. But staying in the here and now, that slider / wannabe cutter is often flat and doesn’t have much downward movement, which means it will eventually get hit hard. Why didn’t the Cubs hit it hard? They might have been caught off-guard, not seeing the pitch from him before.

Though, Niese did throw at least 6 or 7 sliders with sharp downward bite. He may want to focus on thinking about that pitch as a slider, and calling it a slider, because when it’s not, it’s dangerous.

Alfonso Soriano hit a 415-foot bomb to the deepest part of Citi Field in the second inning — a shot that was so long and so high, Rod Barajas would’ve had a standup triple. But Soriano chose to gaze at his prodigious blast from the batter’s box, and break into a homerun trot down the first base line. He started running more than half speed when the ball bounced off the wall, and he wound up with a double. Lou Piniella must be getting soft in his old age, because after a stunt like that, Soriano should’ve been sent to the bench.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Cubs do it again at 7:10 PM in Flushing. It will be a matchup between a pair of undefeated righthanders, as Mike Pelfrey faces Carlos Zambrano. Both pitchers are 2-0.

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. wohjr April 20, 2010 at 2:16 am
    Nice win metsies!

    Believe me yet, haters? Trade that bum DWrong for PITCHING… we can get a no. 3 hitter who strikes out in big situations and makes bum throws ANYTIME! Heck, put Staten Island boy (?) Catalonotto out there! I’d take Wright for Dallas Braden, a pick and Breslow, wouldn’t you Joe?

    Niese = underrated! This is the first step… drop GMJ for the ANIMAL! Meija down to stretch out, Maine down to do the trachel, d. gee up. Make it so!

  2. wohjr April 20, 2010 at 2:18 am
    ps- I like Ike!
  3. isuzudude April 20, 2010 at 6:59 am
    Nice to see home grown products Ike Davis and Jon Niese take centerstage and excel yesterday. The Mets could use all the feel-good stories they can get right now.

    I thought the crew was comparing Dan Murphy to John Olerud during the preseason. Now they’re applying the Olerud tag to Ike Davis, too? Geez, while they’re at it they might as well say the Mets released Mike Jacobs, who also reminds them of John Olerud. Oh yeah, and they have a guy in the minor leagues named Chris Carter, and boy does he resemble John Olerud. I agree, the comparisons should stop – especially when they’re as ridiculous as the ones Gary Keith and Ron are coming up with.

    wohjr: why are we the haters when you are the one hating on David Wright in every post? Wright’s weakness is so obvious to me it’s mind-boggling why it hasn’t been caught or discussed more. He swings and misses at every low and away breaking ball. What gives? Someone needs to teach him better pitch recognition or tell him to expect that pitch to be thrown when the pitcher is ahead in the count. But even with this flaw, which he had all of last year too, Wright is still going to be a .300 hitter with 20+ SB and a .400 OBP. The talent is there, it just needs to be molded properly. We’ve all seen Wright be an all-star caliber gold glover before, and I’m much more inclined to try and fix him than quit on him and include him in some pipedream trade proposal which would inevitably come back to haunt the Mets for giving up on such a huge talent.

  4. Jack O'Brien April 20, 2010 at 7:08 am
    Looks more like Dave Magadan than John Olerud anyways.
  5. mooshinator April 20, 2010 at 9:22 am
    I wouldn’t say that Jon Niese excelled, necessarily. He makes me very nervous because of all the base runners. Now, to his credit, he stayed composed in the midst of all those runners and fought through it all which is a great sign, but in my opinion when you consistently allow so many guys on base you are playing with fire.

    Compare Niese to Maine the night before:

    Niese: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 0 ER, 7 K, 0 HR, 112 pitches

    Maine: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 3 ER, 4 K, 1 HR, 115 pitches

    Very similar games, in my opinion. They both threw a TON of pitches and both allowed too many base runners. It finally caught up to Maine in the end and hurt him in the ER column because of one home run. Niese worked out of all those jams, but if he continues pitching like this it’s going to catch up with him like it did for Maine, in my opinion.

    To be fair, Niese also struck out a bunch more batters than Maine, which could be considered a sign of dominance, but in my opinion is more due to the free-swinging Cubs.

  6. Jeff April 20, 2010 at 9:44 am
    Granted, Niese gave up a lot of baserunners. We shouldn’t forget, though, that Niese has given up one home run in 16 innings and Maine’s got 4 in 12. K’s and a low HR rate point to Niese looking much better than Maine. I’m not crazy about the fact that Niese will probably be the Mets #3 starter, as his upside is probably a #4, but that’s not his fault. I’m happy with what I’ve seen from his in the majors so far.
    I’m not sure about the original post’s sense that Mets starting pitching has been all that bad this year–haven’t we gotten good starts from everyone in the rotation except Maine the last time through? The problem thus far this season has been the offense plus Maine. Sure, I know that ERA isn’t the be all, end all when evaluating starts, but the starters have by and large kept the team in the game. I’m definitely being optimistic about Ollie here, whose last start was probably one of the best he’ll have all season, but if he can be who he was in 2007 and 2008, we’ll live with him as a #4 or #5. If the bats get going, then let’s see Omar bring in a #2 and go for the wild card.
    Wow–it’s easy to be upbeat after a win, huh?
  7. gary s. April 20, 2010 at 10:33 am
    joe, re: soriano’s “home run trot” on ball that hit 415 foot sign.every batter should run hard out of the box, but even more so in citicavern where “home runs go to die”.but we have players on our team (wright,reyes,delgado used 2 watch all the time) who do the same thing and never get reprimanded.just a sign of the times far as niese, any kind of a quality start u get from him or ollie or maine (lol) u just have to be grateful for.they are all back of rotation or borderline mlb pitchers and minaya chose to go with all 3 in the rotation.i expect to see one or maybe 2 different starters in the rotation in a couple of months if the mets are serious about winning games this year