Mets Game 2: Win Over Marlins

Mets 6 Marlins 4

It’s games like this that keep me watching baseball.

It was a pitchers’ duel of sorts, with Jon Niese matching Ricky Nolasco pitch-for-pitch through seven strong innings. When both starters left the game, it was a 2-2 tie. The Mets were the first to go ahead in the top of the ninth thanks to a clutch single by Josh “Don’t Remove Me for a Pinch-hitter Late in the Game” Thole, and had their multi-gazillion-dollar closer Francisco Rodriguez enter in the bottom of the frame to save the win.

However, K-Rod allowed 3 hits, a walk, and the tying run in a 27-pitch effort, sending the game into extra innings.

In the top of the tenth, the Mets exploded for three runs to go ahead 6-3, highlighted by David Wright’s single up the middle that scored the go-ahead run and a two-run double by Willie Harris that put the game away. But, the win wasn’t a win until after Blaine Boyer allowed the Fish to rally and score a run, so my attention was retained.

In short, it was an entertaining ballgame — and in the end, the Mets won!

Game Notes

Niese pitched well and was incredibly efficient, tossing only 87 pitches in his 7 innings of work — 60 of those for strikes. He walked just one and allowed only 4 hits, and did not allow a run after the initial inning. At one point he retired 10 Fish in a row. What I liked in particular was that he stayed on top of the ball, using a delivery that was more between three-quarters and overhand, rather than three-quarters and sidearm. Last year, he was inconsistent with that delivery, and when his arm angle dropped, his pitches flattened out and he had no bite on the curveball — I’m still convinced the dropped arm angle had something to do with the cutter that he fell in love with. When Jon stays more toward overhand as he did in this ballgame, he gets a good 11-5 / 12-6 bite on his curve — and that is the pitch that makes him special. Additionally, he gets more downward movement on the fastball. If he can mix in that change-up a bit more, and stay at that arm angle on all three pitches, he could emerge as the ace of the rotation — even if he ditches the cutter. In short, it was a great outing to start the season right.

Nice to see David Wright get the base hit up the middle to score Jose Reyes with the go-ahead run. D-Wright gets too much criticism for not being “clutch” — even though, with that RBI, he tied Mike Piazza for most game-winning RBI in Mets history (89). Hat tip to my blogger / twitter buddy Ceetar — a.k.a. “Optimistic Mets Fan” — for that one.

Immediately before that clutch single, Wright hit a foul fly ball down the right field line that Scott Cousins could have caught, but he let it drop about three feet in front of him. I think he was unsure of where the wall was and either he lost track of the ball by looking for the wall or maybe he was afraid of running into the wall. The SNY booth suggested that he might have allowed the ball to drop so that Reyes wouldn’t tag and go to third, but if that’s the truth, it makes absolutely no sense — you always go for the out, UNLESS the runner can score (and even then, it’s questionable).

Also nice to see Jose Reyes get his first hit of the season; always good to get the monkey off your back quickly.

Wright, by the way, hit the Mets first homer of the year and committed the team’s first error.

And speaking of firsts, Brad Emaus collected his first MLB hit in the fifth inning — though, it was a hard bouncer that glanced off Hanley Ramirez’s glove and could have been scored as an error. Heck, he’ll take it.

After K-Rod allowed the tying run, a sinister thought came into my head: financially speaking, he’d be motivated to allow the go-ahead run to end the game and give him a “game finished” toward the 55 he needs for his $17M option to vest. I know that K-Rod is way too competitive to ever have such a thought, but what if it were late in the season, and he had, say, 53 or 54 games finished? 17.5 million dollars is 17.5 million dollars, after all, and though a true competitor in theory would never “throw” a ballgame, that’s a tremendous amount of money to ignore.

Speaking of, K-Rod has only 160 more chances to finish 55 games. And yes, I’ll be keeping count after every game.

Next Mets Game

The Mets look to take the rubber match from the Fish in game 3 on Sunday afternoon at 1:10 PM. R.A. Dickey goes against Javier Vazquez.

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. Connor April 2, 2011 at 11:18 pm
    I’m very pleased with Niese today. If Pelf and Dickey come back again and pitch to their potential, the Mets rotation doesn’t look so bad. It’s not he Phillies’ rotation, but it’s one that could compete.

    Willie Harris= greatest Met ever
    Hah! I didn’t think I’d ever say that.

    • Steve S. April 3, 2011 at 7:44 am
      Yeah, I know it’s only two games, but where are all the people who said putting Harris on the team (instead of Evans and others) was a mistake?

      I like the way he hustles, hits, and fields!

      • Joe Janish April 3, 2011 at 12:10 pm
        I am one of the people who believed, and still believe, it made/makes more sense to have Nick Evans on the bench rather than both Willie Harris and Scott Hairston.

        I also stated a few times that I like both Harris and Hairston as players to watch as they play the game right and with energy. But, neither will have any impact on the Mets’ long-term future.

        So while I’ll enjoy watching Harris and Hairston, I’ll be happier when Evans is back in MLB and showing whether or not he can be a big leaguer.

  2. wohjr April 2, 2011 at 11:45 pm
    Hey Joe-

    Re: Krod

    I’m interested in that last bit… surely the contract specifies that “game finished” means only WITH a win???? This sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen if not!

    Nice inning by Mr. Parnell, I thought he looked confident, and you’ve got to like those two 97+ pitches up and in to Hanley

    GO METS!

    • Joe Janish April 3, 2011 at 12:17 am
      Games Finished = # times the pitcher is the last pitcher to pitch for his team in a game. Wins and losses have no bearing.

      Good point on Parnell, I glazed over his appearance. Thank you for pointing it out.

  3. wohjr April 2, 2011 at 11:55 pm
    And, OT, let me add that I think Brian Cashman has some real chutzpah complaining about “abusive” treatment of Pedro lite. Um, hello SCOTT PROCTER!!!
    • Joe Janish April 3, 2011 at 12:20 am
      yeah, Proctor may have been the most-abused pitcher in baseball history. Funny, I didn’t realize that the Yankees didn’t have access to basic statistics such as appearances, prior to signing Feliciano. They should spend some money on Elias Sports Bureau, I hear they have some nice stats packages.

      Or, if they can’t afford that, they could go to the NY public library and look up some things on Google.

  4. AC Wayne April 3, 2011 at 1:19 am
    I know the Mets won and I don’t want to nit-pick but did you catch when Collins replaced Davis for Hu as a pinch runner, assuring Murphy 1B for the remainder of the game, the hit that tied the game up for the Marlins went through Murphy, the first thing I thought of was, “could Ike have made that play?” (post-game – Collins defended move by saying he liked the defense he had set up for the ninth w/Hu and Harris in LF, I’d imaging not necessarily Murphy at 1B) great game, anyway, great win for TC.
    • Joe April 3, 2011 at 11:17 pm
      Yes. Just how much faster does Hu run than Davis? Davis isn’t THAT bad of a runner to take out his defense in the 9th.
    • Joe April 3, 2011 at 11:18 pm
      Exciting sure, but if the Mets lost, not so much. Enough nailbiting from Mets closers. This is getting old.
      • Joe Janish April 4, 2011 at 12:08 am
        In all fairness, there is only one closer in MLB who doesn’t make things nail biting.
        • Joe April 4, 2011 at 8:26 am
          To be honest, the Mets for over a decade have had a stream of closers who are more nailbiting on average than more than one team in MLB. This is not about never being stressful.
  5. Nick April 3, 2011 at 1:56 am
    I love the Frank Rod Game Finish Count, I look forward to it and the conspiracy theories that will surround it! Go Mets!
  6. Connor April 3, 2011 at 9:19 am
    Now we know that krod is the same old krod. He’s still the guy who makes your heart jump with every pitch. As a Mets fan, I love him, but I sure hope he doesn’t finish 55 games.
  7. mic April 3, 2011 at 9:22 am
    I for one see Krod as very tradeable. In fact i think the A’s would take him back.
  8. Steve in Australia April 3, 2011 at 9:25 am
    I agree with wohjr – games finished should count if it’s a win – otherwise sign me up, I promise you I could “finish” as many games as the Mets want, but no-one will be happy with the results!
  9. Steve in Australia April 3, 2011 at 9:48 am
    Not sure if any of you guys are into sabermetrics or projections based on skill sets – but the team of one of the premier producers of these statistics, Ron Shandler, project our Jonathon Niese to have a reasonable season if the breaks go his way. I can’t quote all the projections or the player capsule comments word for word as I don’t want to breach copyright, however I will share with you all that the projection team felt Niese was hampered by hamstring problems last year and with his expected command and ground ball rate, Jon is projected for 11 wins with an ERA of around 3.82 with an upside of a 15 win season with an ERA around the 3.50 mark. If that upside plays out, I for one would be very happy with that.
    • Joe Janish April 4, 2011 at 12:06 am
      Steve, thanks for sharing !

      Using my old-school tool of my two eyes, I can see Niese winning 11-15 games IF he keeps the same arm angle we saw in this game and if he gets enough run and bullpen support.

      That said, it’s nice when old-school and new-school evaluations come to the same conclusion.

  10. Skag W. April 4, 2011 at 12:50 am
    It was a good win, but Wright’s hit was not a clutch situation. Neither were any of his other GWRBI. There is a universal duality of truth in baseball: If Jeter gets a hit, it was a clutch situation: If Wright makes an out, it was a clutch situation. This is a law which is inviolable. The inverse is also true (Jeter never makes an out in clutch situations, while David only gets hits in non-clutch situations.) Anyone who writes anything otherwise has zero credibility.