Mets Game 16: Win Over Braves

Mets 3 Braves 2

For the first time in at least 16 years, the Mets out-managed the Braves to a victory.

And yes, that includes the Bobby Valentine years (no offense, Bobby V.).

Mets Game Notes

Dillon Gee flew down from Buffalo to make this spot start and was stellar, spinning nearly six innings of one-run ball. Gee allowed just one run on 5 hits and 2 walks, striking out 4 in an 89-pitch effort. When he was removed with two outs in the sixth, I was stunned, confused, and fearful — after all, Gee was keeping the Bravos off balance with his change-up and well-spotted fastball. Somehow, the Mets bullpen held the lead the rest of the way as Gee earned his first MLB victory of the 2011 season.

If you saw the game, though, you have to agree that Fredi Gonzalez seemed to do everything in his power to give the Mets the win. For years I have been completely befuddled by the universal love for Gonzalez, whose Marlins teams were always ill-prepared, weak fundamentally, and made no forward progress. His in-game strategy was always weak at best, and he was clueless as to how to manage a bullpen. But for whatever reason, the Braves love him and he was seen as the ideal successor to Bobby Cox — mainly because he’d represent a “seamless” transition. What a joke. Would Bobby Cox have his pitcher attempt a suicide squeeze with one out, the bases loaded, and down by one with the opposing pitcher on the ropes? I’m thinking “no”. That decision was so incredibly awful, it bothered me as a baseball fan — even though it helped the Mets immensely. Gee was struggling a bit with his command that inning, and the Braves had a viable opening to take control of the game, particularly with their top clutch hitter Martin Prado waiting on deck. All Tommy Hanson had to do was take pitches until he either walked (to force in a run) or strike out, and let Prado get his chance. Instead, Gonzalez chose to make his presence felt and force a situation that didn’t need forcing. Terry Collins might say, “we used to call that an error of enthusiasm”; though, I’d call it “an error of extreme stupidity”.

Later in the game, in the sixth inning with two outs and men on first and second with hot-hitting Freddie Freeman coming to the plate, the Mets brought in Chris Capuano. Rather than let Freeman face Capuano, Gonzalez spent his one big bullet by pinch-hitting Chipper Jones, who grounded out. Freeman started this season slowly, but is 4 for his last 10 and was looking very comfortable in the box against the Mets. Why he was removed is anyone’s guess.

In yet another example of a head-scratching move, Gonzalez had shortstop Alex Gonzalez sacrifice Jones to second base with none out in the bottom of the ninth against Francisco Rodriguez, who had just walked Chipper on four straight pitches to start the inning. Never mind that Alex Gonzalez jacked two balls over the fence on Saturday and hit 23 HR last year and thus represented the Braves’ best chance of winning the ballgame. After K-Rod couldn’t find the plate in his first four pitches, why in the world would you give him an out? How about taking a pitch or two first, to see what might transpire? What made the move even more ridiculous was that the next batter was Matt Young — all 5’6″ of him and owner of a career .385 slugging percentage in 6 minor-league seasons; also the owner of exactly two career MLB hits. Really? This was your big move, Fredi?

I know, I sound like a Braves fan with my complaining. In truth, I’m a baseball fan who cannot stomach stupidity, regardless of where it comes from. But the bright side, which I’ll reiterate: Terry Collins outmanaged Fredi Gonzalez, and as a result, the Mets won. It’s nice to be on this side of the equation for once — it’s been a long, long time since the Mets beat the Braves because the Mets were better at the “little things”.

The out-management began with the lineup; specifically, with Josh Thole following Jose Reyes. Two out of the three times Reyes reached base, Thole drove him in. That’s a great formula.

Other than the Reyes-Thole production team, Ike Davis had two hits including a double and his 12th RBI of the year. And that was pretty much the extent of the offense. So again, thank goodness the Mets executed the fundies, Collins made good decisions, and the Braves beat themselves.

Next Mets Game

The Mets get a day off on Monday as they travel back to Flushing to face the hapless Houston Astros for a three-game set beginning on Tuesday. Jonathon Niese faces Wandy Rodriguez, with the first pitch thrown at 7:05 PM.

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. Mike April 17, 2011 at 11:01 pm
    I’m sensing a winning streak. Maybe the first two against the Astros and we’ll see what happens from there?
    • Andy April 17, 2011 at 11:55 pm
      Hope springs eternal . . . 😉
  2. Mic April 18, 2011 at 8:37 am
    Gee – chance to win. Palfrey?
  3. xDanTanna April 18, 2011 at 10:11 am
    It was nice to finally win one. But, another ugly game managing by (T)he (C)hipmunk. In fairness to TC though, i guess it was an ugly day for both managers. Ugly Win, but I will take it that makes us 12-5 according right Terry? 🙂
  4. NormE April 18, 2011 at 10:46 am
    When Collins had Pagan bunting with Davis on second and no outs I had visions of Jerry Manuel. This was a chance to have a big inning and Collins was playing for one run. That was most distressing.
  5. Joe April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am
    “So again, thank goodness the Mets executed the fundies, Collins made good decisions, and the Braves beat themselves.”

    Using Dickey in the 7th was interesting there. But, yeah, doing the basics can lead you to win at least one of three games. It takes work to lose seven in the row, though I see the Orioles did it too. And, the Rays had a winning streak.

    Both started off in the opposite way. So, there is some hope for those of us who expected Mets mediocrity.

  6. Ken April 18, 2011 at 11:53 am
    I didn’t mind the suicide squeeze. It’s often a high-percentage play, and would have tied the game. The odds of the next batter getting a hit and driving in two were no better than .300 or so. Anyway, that’s the argument for the squeeze.

    Removing Freeeman for Jones however made no sense. If Freddie hadn’t done that, he would have had Jones to pinch hit in the 9th. Freeman, the first batter in the 9th, likely would have walked in any event, and Jones would have been available to drive him in.

    The Mets probably lost five or six games to poor managing last year. Maybe we can break even on them this year – win a few, lose a few. That’s progress.

    • Joe April 18, 2011 at 1:28 pm
      Since a good argument can be made that poor managing probably helped one or two losses in the first two weeks, that’s an optimistic hope.