Mets Game 1: Loss to Marlins

So much for the longest-running Opening Day winning streak … not even Terry Collins’ speech could inspire the Mets to win.

Marlins starter Josh Johnson was flat-out dominant, and Mike Pelfrey was not. Big Pelf struggled from the first inning, when he barely escaped a 25-pitch frame stranding runners on second and third. He fought through a lack of stuff and command until the fourth, when John Buck blasted a grand-slam to put the Fish up 4-zip.

Game Notes

Josh Johnson had a no-hitter going into the seventh inning, despite the fact Willie Harris was batting second in the lineup. Of course, it was Harris who broke it up, leading off the seventh with a double.

Pelfrey was struggling to stay on top of the ball — meaning, his fingers were under the ball toward and often at the release point — and as a result he got little sink. Although many of his pitches were down in the zone, they had little downward movement; they stayed flat. A few times he looked almost sidearm, and on those pitches the ball, predictably, ran up in the zone — such as the gopher ball to Buck.

Pedro Beato made his MLB debut and did OK, allowing 3 hits in 2 scoreless innings and a fairly efficient 25 pitches. Something I hadn’t noticed during spring training is that he allows his hands to get far away from his body during the leg lift, which throws off his balance a bit. If I were his coach, I’d have him keep the hands closer to his body throughout the leg lift to stay more compact and balanced, and in turn, keep his momentum on an efficient, straight line toward home plate.

In the bottom of the 7th, a Fish runner broke for second base with Gaby Sanchez at the plate. Sanchez squared to bunt, holding the bat at the eye level of catcher Mike Nickeas. As the pitch came in, Sanchez pulled the bat back, keeping it at that same level — in Nickeas’ line of vision. Nickeas blinked and flinched slightly — I’m guessing he lost sight of the ball — and the ball glanced off his glove and went behind him as the runner slid into second safely. Kids: what Sanchez did was completely within the rules, and was a great example of what you can do as a batter to help the baserunner get to second base on an attempted steal.

Speaking of Nickeas, he is really “noisy” behind the plate. Meaning, he moves around quite a bit, both before and while the pitch is coming in. In early March, I mentioned that this issue could cause him to lose strikes.

Logan Morrison greeted Taylor Buchholz with a solo homer to right field, and saluted his deceased father as he crossed home plate. You may remember that Morrison’s dad, while dying of cancer, took a train up to Flushing from Louisiana to witness his son play an MLB game in person.

Florida outfielder Mike Stanton left the game with a tight left hamstring; it’s unknown whether he’ll play during the weekend. Stanton was bothered by a strained right quad during most of spring training, so it’s possible he’s been favoring the right leg and putting a bit too much strain on the left.

Good news for the Wilpons: Francisco Rodriguez has only 161 more opportunities to finish 55 ballgames.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Marlins go head-to-head again on Saturday night in Miami at 7:10 PM. Jon Niese goes to the mound against Ricky Nolasco.

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. April 1, 2011 at 10:52 pm
    joe, am i overreacting, or is emaus 4 feet from home plate when he sets up?
    • Joe Janish April 1, 2011 at 11:44 pm
      He does look kind of far, I agree. I guess he feels vulnerable to inside pitches.

      I do notice that he dives into home plate a bit — like many hitters — so that probably also plays into his distance from the plate during setup.

  2. Joe April 1, 2011 at 11:22 pm
    “Pedro Beato made his MLB debut and did OK, allowing 3 hits in 2 scoreless innings and a fairly efficient 25 pitches.”

    “Ok” is a tad harsh, isn’t it?

    Meanwhile, “flat-out dominant” until the 7th, when the Marlins gave up two runs and the tying run was at the plate.

    • Joe Janish April 1, 2011 at 11:42 pm
      He allowed three hits in two innings, so no, I don’t think I was harsh. I like Beato — a lot — and am rooting for him. I did like that he was efficient and pitched to contact, but I didn’t think the adjective “good” made sense for a 1.5 WHIP.

      I guess I’m a tough grader.

      And yes, when a pitcher no-hits a MLB team for six innings, that is “flat-out dominant”.

      • Joe April 2, 2011 at 9:28 am
        I didn’t say he did great or anything, but it was his major league debut and he went two scoreless innings, the first after giving up a lead off double. I think that is a bit better than “okay.” Would one or two hits make it good or what? Maybe no hits?

        As I said, he was flat out dominant until the 7th. Then, he gave up two runs, and if Pelfrey didn’t give up a grand slam, it could have been a nailbiter of a game.

        • Joe Janish April 2, 2011 at 10:30 am
          Let’s agree that semantics are subjective. 🙂

          “if Pelfrey didn’t give up a grand slam” … Terry Collins said about as much, something like, “…other than one swing of the bat …” and I say nonsense to that. Pelfrey was struggling from the first batter of the game, and you could see the lack of confidence on his face and in his body language. He gave up a grand slam because he also allowed two walks and a double immediately prior. If he DIDN’T give up a grand slam there, I feel confident in saying that Pelfrey would have still allowed several runs and been knocked out of the game before the sixth inning. I’m not saying that because I’m negative or have something against Pelfrey, but because of what my eyes saw from him in the game — to me he looked like someone struggling with command and vulnerable.

        • Izzy April 2, 2011 at 10:54 am
          OK was enough of a compliment for Beato. If you look at the box score you say he must have looked good. If you watched the game you are more likely to say he was lucky, especially his first inning.
  3. murph April 2, 2011 at 2:15 am
    As Townsend wrote, and Daltry belted:
    “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

    It is going to be a long season for those that still care about the Mets.

  4. Izzy April 2, 2011 at 9:00 am
    Most telling move of the night was Collins giving Thole the hook for a PH. If this is the guy we’ve been reading so much positive stuff about, he should be given at least one chance to hit a lefty, shouldn’t he?
    Head scratcher of the night…Pinch hitting Hu to start an inning. Is he a better hitter than Murphy?
    • Joe April 2, 2011 at 9:30 am
      Murphy was the last guy left on the back. Down 5-2, it made some sense to save him until the game was closer.
      • Joe Janish April 2, 2011 at 10:33 am
        I agree with Joe on the Hu/Murphy choice.

        As for Thole … from the manager’s standpoint it made some sense but you are right in that it was “telling”. Thanks, you have inspired a post!

        • Izzy April 2, 2011 at 10:52 am
          Inspired a post!!!!! wow! can’t wait.
  5. mrtasan April 2, 2011 at 12:09 pm
    i just dropped coglan for morrison…can you give me a scouting report on morrison?
  6. Midwestern Met April 2, 2011 at 1:10 pm
    Off on the wrong foot, but Johnson was on his game last night. We’ll get them this time.

    By the way, if you’ve got some time, check out my Mets blog, Midwestern Met.