Mets Game 28: Loss to Reds

Reds 5 Mets 4

For the fifth time in as many tries, the Mets lost the “rubber match” of a three-game series.

And for the third time in as many games, it was a solo homer in the final inning that was the difference in the game.

Several opportunities to break the game open presented themselves, but the Mets were unable to take advantage. It was as if they were waiting for the Reds to win the game.

Game Notes

Jon Niese was OK — not great, not awful, about what you expect from a #5 starter. He allowed an eye-popping 12 hits in 6 innings but no walks and 4 runs. I think that is termed a “quality start”. Looking away from the numbers and at him as a human, Niese seemed to do a good job of getting on top of the ball and finishing his pitches early in the game, but gradually dropped his arm angle a bit — causing his fastball to flatten and his curveball to be tipped off. He threw the curve only sparingly the first two times through the lineup, then started to use it more the third time through, but it hung often and he gave it away by coming more over the top. He did throw maybe two or three sharp curves, but the rest hung high or never bit enough to make it into the strike zone — he was cutting off the follow through on it. It seemed that the Reds batters realized they could sit on the fastball and slider, which both were flat and moved mostly horizontally; without vertical drop, a slider (or cutter, whatever he wants to call it) is generally ineffective.

As mentioned by Gary S. in the comments below, Hisanori Takahashi was splendid in his three innings of relief, striking out 4 and allowing no baserunners. At some point, Jerry Manuel is going to have to hand him a spot in the rotation — either Oliver Perez’s or John Maine’s.

I suppose the fact that the Mets caused closer Francisco Cordero to blow two games in the series could be construed as “fight” or “grit” or whatever you want to call it, but they still lost two out of three. So, what does it mean?

Speaking of, Frank Catalanotto got the big hit to lead off the ninth against Cordero and eventually scored. I know a lot of people are unhappy with Smithtown’s Favorite Son on the roster instead of Chris Carter — and I want to see The Animal with the big club — but regardless of his slow start, Catalanotto has been and remains a pure hitter and one of the best pinch-hitters in MLB. The issue is whether the Mets can afford to carry someone who is more or less a pinch-hitter and nothing more. It might be nice to see Catalanotto spend some time at second base and/or the outfield. There’s no way he can field as well as Alex Cora at the keystone but he’ll be adequate and might hit enough to make up for his defensive deficiency in that one start per week. Not that it matters … Cora is in place for the duration.

Jason Bay left 6 runners on base and went 0-for-4 before being removed from the game in the seventh. He epitomized the story of the game for the Mets: plenty of opportunities, but no one stepping up and getting the big hit. I’m not terribly concerned about Bay — I believe that he will eventually get hot and carry this team at some point — but the problem is that no one else is picking up the slack.

Toward the same point, the Jose Reyes Batting Third Experiment is quickly getting tired — even if Reyes drove in a run with an infield hit. Suddenly I’m starting to wonder if the RBI is a more relevant stat than the Beaneheads give it credit for — maybe, just maybe, driving in a run has something more to do with having many opportunities to do so.

And along the same lines … there were 11 homers hit by the two teams combined in this series — all were solo shots.

Under the heading of irrelevant but curiously embarrasing: during the top of the 8th, Gary Cohen and Ron Darling chatted about Miguel Cabrera, while the SNY cameras focused on shortstop Orlando Cabrera (no relation).

Next Mets Game

The Mets take an off day on Thursday while fleeing Cincinnati and traveling home to face the Giants in Flushing. Game one occurs on Friday night at 7:10 PM, with Mike Pelfrey facing Jonathan Sanchez.

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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.
  1. gary s. May 5, 2010 at 5:55 pm
    joe, unfortunately i did watch the game.niese was so-so.takahashi was lights out for three innings.lots of chances to win game clutch hitting.jerry puts 3 automatic outs in lineup.cora, blanco and matthews.JASON BAY IS STEALING MONEY FROM THIS TEAM!!6 runners left plate discipline.swings at anything near more bad month and it’s time for barry bonilla comparisons as worst f.a. signing ever.everybody keeps saying he will come out of it.not if he keeps swingings at balls 2 feet off the best we have a shot for the wild card.he is costing us games in the clean up slot with his failure to hit in clutch, that we can’t afford to lose.feliciano gave up game winning walkoff after appearing for 4th game in a row.nieve gave up 2 homers last nite when he appeared 3 nites in a to jerry!!DO U SEE A COMMON THREAD HERE!!!than of course he’s yukking it up in the post game with the writers.i can’t stand this clown more thing, please stop benching barajas the game after he homers.why not ride the hot hand?we have played 28 much rest does he need this early in the season??
  2. hiro May 5, 2010 at 6:57 pm
    Gary, you are over the top. It wasn’t all bad.

    While I agree on the poor bullpen management each Blanco and GMJ had a hit. And I haven’t watched Bay closely over his career, but I do know that two years ago I cut him in fantasy baseball after a horrible april. When I looked him up after the season he was a Top75 player with 30+ HR. It’s only been one month.

  3. gary s. May 5, 2010 at 11:29 pm
    0 for 12 in cincy which is a hitters park, no homers in philly, which is a launching he goes home to citicavern with the great wall of flushing (thanks howie rose for a great line),staring him in the face.i wonder if jay bay is sorry he turned down 60 mill from the sox and 4 years to hit popups over the green monster in boston
  4. isuzudude May 6, 2010 at 9:50 am
    The fact that the Mets and Reds played 3 games that weren’t determined until the 9th inning or later shows me that they are very equally matched. I don’t really view the Reds as being better than an 82-win team, so I think it’s safe to say this is the projection we should have for the Mets. Sad, but true.

    Gary: I sympathize with your level of frustration, and in the end we probably both view this team as a sub-.500 team. But I think at times you tend to let your frustration boil over, and in turn start dishing out unjustified criticism and start saying things that are a bit unfair or untrue. And though I steadfastly agree that Jerry is as boneheaded a manager as there is in baseball, and that the bullpen management is insane, and that Jason Bay is struggling mightily to open this season, some other things you say need to be challenged.

    For instance, Bay has been a Met for a little over a month. To label him a bust 1 month into a 4 year contract is a tad premature, don’t you think? Carlos Beltran certainly looked like a lock to be one of the worst Met signings in history his first season in NY in 2005, but he made up for those struggles the next 3 years before suffering chronic knee injuries. If Beltran could struggled for a year and still shed his bust status, I’m sure Bay still has more time to shed his. I’m not arguing that Bay has gotten off to an awful start and has, so far, not earned his contract, but let’s give him more than 101 ABs before we start tossing around that Bonilla name.

    Secondly, though questionable with a day off today, I can’t question Jerry’s decision to rest some starters yesterday – especially the ones he rested. Francoeur was a human pinball in Philly, crashing into walls and getting hit by pitches left and right, and probably should have received a day off sooner than yesterday. (And it’s more Omar’s fault that GMJ is on the roster than Jerry’s.) We know Castillo’s story with his gimpy legs, so any 12:30 game following a night game should be assumed to be a day off for him (not to mention the “automatic out” Cora was 1 for 2 with a walk and an RBI yesterday). And any catcher not named Yadier is getting a day off after catching 3 games in a row and then having a 12:30 game on the 4th game.

  5. gary s. May 6, 2010 at 10:32 am
    dude, i’m not calling bay a bust yet.i know the season is young and u judge a player on a full year, not one month.d wright went almost a full year in 2009 with only 10 homeruns.if u play for the mets, and have 81 games at citicavern, u better take advantage of the smaller parks in the league.wright has already hit 6 homers on the road this year.that’s encouraging to me.i’ll try to layoff bay till july 4th and hope he has double digit homeruns by than.if he doesn’t he’s the new bobby more thing, please put reyes back in the leadoff more popup on a 3-1 count will drive me to distraction.he is not a 3 hitter..never will the way chris carter hitting in .330’s at triple a.he is the guy that should be spelling francouer on off days and tough righties.they probably could have put him in left field and gotten similar prodcution as bay (could it be any worse?) and saved 66 mill.but the wilpons had to show the fan base “that they were doing something”, so they gave bay the big money.carter and willingham platooning in left would have given us decent numbers in left field for a smidgeon of the bay price.but, the wilpons would not have sold as many 6 packs and 12 packs.all these lost series on the road early in the year will doom us to a 3rd or 4th place finish in the east.
  6. Mic May 6, 2010 at 4:59 pm
    – GMJ: Manuel does not have to play him, AND has enuff says so to ask for him to be cut/traded.

    -Bay will never sell the amount of tickets wins would

    -I-dude: the mets easily sweep the Cincy series and win the Philly series with some decent managerial in game strategy, benchwork and bullpen management.

  7. Matt May 7, 2010 at 9:20 am
    ” Suddenly I’m starting to wonder if the RBI is a more relevant stat than the Beaneheads give it credit for — maybe, just maybe, driving in a run has something more to do with having many opportunities to do so.”

    Or, the RBI is merely a pretty direct correlation between SLG and AB’s with runners in scoring position. 0.327 SLG X 29 AB’s with RISP = 9.5 predicted RBI’s, he has 9 RBI’s. It’s exactly what you would expect given his low SLG.

  8. Jeff May 7, 2010 at 12:00 pm
    Matt – so in other words the ability to hit in RISP is something that has value / can be measured, and differs from player to player. I think that was Joe’s point.

    And therefore the RBI is relevant.

    Or am I missing something?