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?
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.
About the Author
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.