Mets Game 11: Loss to Rockies
Rockies 5 Mets 4
Close, but no cigar.
The illusion drawn by Terry Collins is that if only one pitch or one hit in each game went differently, the team could easily be 9-2. First, I’m not sure I agree, and second, that is exactly the difference between winning teams and losing teams. When a team consistently fails to execute the small things, they will consistently be on the wrong end of the final score — and vice-versa. See the Braves of 1991-2005.
In any case, it was another sad loss for the Mets. So close, yet so far.
Mets Game Notes
For the second straight outing, Jonathon Niese looked really good — borderline dominant — in the first few innings as he stayed on top of the ball and successfully repeated good mechanics. Then, he slowly lost that consistency, as his arm angle dropped ever so slightly, and his fingers slid to the side of the ball at release, which in turn caused all of his pitches to flatten out. In his previous start, that change occurred in the third inning; this time, it started in the fourth. So is it a matter of fatigue? I’m really not sure. I do feel it has something to do with him using the cutter — a pitch that requires the pitcher to turn his hand just a bit and release with the fingers slightly off to the side. My half-baked theory is that for whatever reason, repeated use of the cutter somehow sends a signal to his brain that makes his arm angle follow that off-kilter release grip. For Jon Niese to succeed, he must stay “on top” of the ball.
On one pitch, in the fourth inning against Todd Helton with a 2-2 count, Niese actually dropped down “laredo” (as Keith Hernandez likes to say) to deliver a slow curve that resulted in ball three. Um … huh? I thought the Mets released Oliver Perez? Please, Jonathon, if you want to fool around with a sidearm delivery to fool a hitter once in a while, stop, slap yourself, and change your mind. It’s really not that effective — as much as David Cone THOUGHT it was — and please, consider that only after you have developed absolute command of your main pitches.
Troy Tulowitzki is a beast. Why the Mets chose to pitch to him with first base open, men on second and third, two outs, and up by two boggles my mind. On the one hand, I rarely like to see intentional walks — particularly those that load the bases. Once in a while, though, they make sense. For example, when one of the top five hitters in all of baseball is up at the plate and is in the midst of a hot streak, and has Jose Lopez following him in the lineup. I’m guessing that the Mets wanted to unintentionally intentionally walk him — meaning, that Jon Niese would throw to targets a few inches off the plate and hope Tulo would be overaggressive, swing at something out of the zone, and either strike out or make weak enough contact to get an easy out. Unfortunately, Niese threw a chest-high fastball just a hair off the outside corner, and Tulo reached out and drove it over the right field fence.
I watched that homerun from the 12th row on the first-base line, and can tell you I and the people around me knew it was out the moment it was hit. But when I re-watched the game on the DVR, it seemed like Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez were surprised by the result. I guess the view from up top in the SNY booth provides a different perspective. Or maybe, Gary isn’t used to seeing homeruns at Citi Field.
During the postgame press conference, Terry Collinswas asked if he felt there was a “deflation” among the team after the Tulowitzki homerun; his answer was
“Yes.”. When asked what alarms he saw, or why exactly he felt that way, he explained: “There’s a sense in the dugout; there’s an air in the dugout.”
BTW, I was invited to attend this game by the Mets PR department, which meant I was able to see Terry Collins’ pregame press conference and watch batting practice on-field / from the dugout. I snapped a few pictures that will be posted shortly. Additionally, I was able to briefly interview former Mets catcher Jerry Grote, and I’ll post that conversation as well.
Next Mets Game
The single-admission doubleheader begins at 12:10 PM on Thursday afternoon. Game one pits R.A. Dickey against Greg Reynolds. Game Two follows with Chris Capuano vs. Jorge De La Rosa. I’m not 100% on the matchups, but those four pitchers are scheduled to pitch at some point during the day.