Mets Game 24: Win Over Nationals

Mets 6 Nationals 3

After falling behind 3-2, the Mets fought back and went ahead in the top of the ninth with a bleeder, a blooper, a bunt, a sacrifice fly, and a bouncer — proving that “small ball” still survives and can help win ballgames.

Mets Game Notes

R.A. Dickey pitched well — and well enough to win — but for some reason, to me, he just didn’t look himself, if that makes any sense. His knuckler seems to be spinning too much and his command is nowhere near as fine as it was last summer. I give him credit for doing as well as he did without his “best stuff”, but I wonder how much of his success in this game was due to him or the ineptitude of the Nationals hitters.

Remarkably, Nats manager Jim Riggleman removed starter Tom Gorzelanny after only 85 pitches with one out in the seventh. Gorzelanny was cruising, and the Mets hitters couldn’t figure him out; they managed only one run on four hits and a walk off of him. I’m not sure why he was in a rush to get Tyler Clippard into the game; Riggleman could have waited until the 8th or possibly the 9th — and then might not have had to use LOOGY Sean Burnett as his closer.

Speaking of, for those who think closers are overrated, please explain the theory to Riggleman (and Ozzie Guillen).

As if Riggleman wasn’t doing enough over-managing, in the bottom of the 8th with the go-ahead run on 2B and none out, he had his hottest (only?) hitter — Wilson Ramos — bunting. By the grace of the baseball gods, Josh Thole committed a passed ball allowing the runner to get to third and Ramos to hit; he would up skying a sac fly. I’m a Mets fan but a baseball fan first, so it makes me nuts to see stupid baseball decisions, regardless of who is making them. It doesn’t amaze me that Riggleman was hired to be a MLB manager once; what amazes me is that someone else hired him a second time after seeing how inept he was (see: Fredi Gonzalez, Manny Acta). Being a “good guy” still goes a long way in the old boys’ network.

In the top of the 8th, Jose Reyes ripped a triple to left-center but was called out for over-sliding the third base bag. Third baseman Jerry Hairston, Jr. pushed Reyes’ arm, causing his fingers to lose contact with the bag in the eyes of the 3B umpire. The angle of the SNY camera appeared to show Jose’s fingers staying on the bag, but I don’t necessarily trust a camera over a man standing three feet from the play; angles can sometimes play tricks on the eye. And yes, kids, it is the umpire’s judgment if a “normal tag” pushes the runner’s arm off the base — but you can’t intentionally or obviously push a runner off the base.

Dan Murphy hit a pinch-hit, solo homer in the top of the 8th, allowed Adam LaRoche to reach 2B on a blooper when he didn’t cover the bag (which led to a Nats run), then hit a two-run double in the top of the ninth. Final score for Murph: +2. As long as he keeps driving in more runs than he allows, he should be OK as a second baseman.

Ike Davis extended his hitting streak to 9 games with two hits. However, one of his hits was a fly ball dropped by Jayson Werth that was curiously reversed from error to hit by the official scorer, and hit two was a blooper to left that was trapped by a diving Roger Bernadina.

Although the Nats look like a bad high school JV team right now, they have accomplished a remarkable feat: they are the only team in MLB whose starters have gone at least 5 innings in every game this year. They have been lengthy, but not dominant.

Francisco Rodriguez saved his sixth game and finished his eighth. 47 more to go for the pot of gold.

And while we’re counting up numbers and citing sophisticated stats: six games played by Jason Bay, six Mets wins.

Next Mets Game

The final game of the series starts at 7:05 PM on Thursday night in Washington, D.C. The Mets send Chris Capuano to the hill against Livan Hernandez.

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. Joe April 27, 2011 at 11:12 pm
    Three people played second today. Gary noted that Hairston played some second in the past. I foresee an extra inning game where there is four.
    • Joe Janish April 27, 2011 at 11:26 pm
      And not one of them on the All-Star ballot, where Brad Emaus represents 2B for the Mets.

      All these keystone guys remind me of the ’05 Mets.

    • Steve S. April 28, 2011 at 10:18 am
      And Harris and Reyes have also played at 2B!
      • Joe April 28, 2011 at 10:45 am
        Right. Four is a gimmee.
  2. gary s. April 28, 2011 at 12:41 am
    Nice to see a met second baseman who can hit the ball out of the infield..
  3. Walnutz15 April 28, 2011 at 7:39 am
    RE: Murphy at 2nd….that’s exactly where he’s gonna hurt ya most at the position. Nevermind range, that UZR-baloney, etc — it’s the position-playing, itself (covering the bag when he’s supposed to, backing-up plays, etc.)

    He has been smoking the ball of late (absolute seed on the HR and the double into the RF corner to follow-up), but needs to be covering there.

    I can live with it, since he really has no defensive position whatsoever – and was merely passable at 1st base….leading to everyone going crazy about “how good” he was there. Hopefully, he’s able to learn on the job.

    RE: Ike — that’s “vintage oppo”-Ike on that duck-fart to LF…..really a nice effort by Bernadina to even trap theb ball, and a good job by Bay to get to 2nd base; it was a tough read.

    Ike’s a guy with a bit of a long stroke. To me, he’s at his finest when he shortens up, and drives the ball the other way……..if he’s not getting his pitch and depositing it deep into the stands somewhere.

    If he hits .280 this year, then I’d consider it a major success. He’s prone to getting rung up, but at the same time – goes VERY well to the opposite field, and won’t “chase” closer pitches he doesn’t think are strikes.

    From what I’ve seen in the early stages of his career, coupled with what I watched of him at ASU — he’s got a decent-enough plate discipline where he won’t take terrible AB’s.

    I was a bit concerned about the sophomore slump with him, but so far – so good. I’d like to see him continue to develop as a presence in the middle of this lineup….a far cry from the “bust” he was wanting to be labeled by sects of Met fans; after a smaller than small sample in a notoriously tough Brooklyn ballpark at the end of the longest stretch of baseball he’d ever played.


    As a member of the “Hu is this guy, and why is he here?” club — it was good to see him finally contribute with that SAC fly. Why any pitcher would throw him a fastball, after seeing what he looks like on breaking stuff is beyond my comprehension.

    I don’t think much of his ability as a ball-player, but if this “gets him going”, all the better.

    Not holding my breath, and think we can better fill the roster spot.

    Admittedly, much of my dislike of Hu has to do with seeing Kaz Matsui each time I look at that #25.

    Nice little streak here, regardless of who we’re playing…..let’s just hope that someone smacked them upside the head and flipped the “Good Baseball” switch.

    • FrankTaveras April 28, 2011 at 8:51 am
      What happens when Murphy falls back to Earth and is hitting .250 while making all these mental errors that don’t show up in UZR? He’s awful out there, and will have to continue to hit like Ted Williams to not hurt the team over the long haul. I’ve seen little league kids with better instincts.
      • Walnutz15 April 28, 2011 at 9:34 am
        Good question, FT — and unfortunately the quote:

        “I’m Daniel Murphy, and I’m here to hit.” —

        . . . . which was uttered back in college, is still true years later.

        I appreciate that he’s hitting right now, of course — but as you’ve stated: unless he’s hitting – he’s not providing much else on the field.

        I’m still dumb-founded by the attempt he made to advance to 3rd on a ball hit directly in front of him… learn what to do in that instance in the early stages of little league.

        It became almost comical the way he veered off into the back-end of the infield dirt to make a left turn around the 3-bagger….almost……

        Murph’s a good enough guy, and has a nice stroke when he’s on the ball — but he still has a ton of work to do to learn how to stick with a Big League-club.

        Otherwise, he becomes a slightly better version of Matt Franco — something Janish and I have shared a viewpoint on since 2008. Amidst all of the Mattingly, Boggs, and Pete Rose hogwash comparisons made by Met fans desperately wanting a legit ballplayer to come out of the system.

        He’s going to need to continue working, just to become a guy with any sort of defensive skillset.

        • Mike April 28, 2011 at 2:02 pm
          Technically I believe he said “My name is Daniel Murphy, and I hit third”

          Either way, it’s clear Murph’s value is with his offensive game. In the end if he allows more runs in the field then he creates at the plate then he has no value. There’s a stat for that I believe, I can’t seem to find it. To me, it is that simple.

          And Reyes was safe, and it’s a fact because Collins, Hale, and Reyes were not thrown out. The ump knew he was wrong, Hairston admitted he said Reyes came off and that seemed to influence the decision. It got the team fired up. I don’t care what anyone says about such things: if you visibly can see the emotion and passion in a club and immediately see success following it then they are related, however much. If the pitching holds up, this team will hit, and it will win.

  4. Walnutz15 April 28, 2011 at 7:49 am
    P.S. – As far as the Reyes call was concerned, I initially thought he came off the bag for a nanosecond; and could see where the sell of the tag/coupled with a split-second flinch could have led to the punch-out.

    Thing is: in this day and age of HD Freeze-Frames, and Coors Light super-slo mo cams – in addition to the 82 other angles shown…..everyone is an expert umpire.

    Reyes always runs the risk of oversliding the bag, and it wouldn’t have been the first time in his career that it has happened. Simple solution?

    Slide feet first, in lieu of going full-body-leap “slip ‘n slide” into bases. Tells me he never truly learned the proper way to slide, and will never do it now – considering the stage he’s at in his career.

    I’m a huge fan of Jose, and just want him healthy and on the field for as long as period of time as he can be. Glad to see that call didn’t bite us too hard in the end.

    • John April 28, 2011 at 9:40 am
      Amen on the head first slide. This play was the epitome of what you get with Reyes. Great ability and then a complete lack of fundamentals. Head first slides can only lead to bad things. Broken fingers, beat up body and not to mention overslides. Let’s not forget the ability of an infielder to put his leg in front of the bag without any concern of incoming spikes.
      • Walnutz15 April 28, 2011 at 9:53 am
        Absolutely, John.

        We’ve already heard about jammed fingers from Reyes this year — and I’d love him to be on the field for as long as he possibly can……even past 2011.

        Sliding head-first definitely makes it easier for opposing fielders to block a bag/get themselves into an ideal position to “sell” a tag……no spikes to worry about.

        Couple of those puppies heading at a novice 3bagger like Hairston would have taken him right out of the play from the word “go”.

        (I’d still feel a world more comfortable with Reyes sliding feet-first into bases. This coming from a leadoff hitter who loved more than anything to slide head-first into a bag……I still knew how to adjust though. Not sure that Reyes does, or is even interested in modifying the habit.)

        • argonbunnies April 28, 2011 at 4:07 pm
          Reyes is just barely safe on enough steals, that I think if you changed his slide his percentage would fall off a cliff. I’m thinking this year he’ll go something like 42-9… feet-first, I’d say 34-17.

          So I’m content to cross my fingers and hope that if his fingers have survived this long, they’ll continue to.

  5. Joe April 28, 2011 at 8:07 am
    I too can live with Murphy at 2nd … he isn’t the only dubious infielder out there in NL that is more about his bat & he is just learning the position.

    He very well might be DH material but it is not like he has been playing for years. He was crud for part of a season as a OF, played a bit of first base & then got hurt. Give him a year and if he plays credible, his bat will balance things out enough. A team can survive with some weak spot. I also admit to seeing some grit there; he has some fan favorite potential.

    Why did Collins use Hu over Pridie in that spot?

  6. Steve S. April 28, 2011 at 9:32 am
    Unfortunately, Jose will eventually injure his hand sliding that way! Too bad we’ve gotten away from the feet-first slide that dominated baseball for its first hundred years or so.

    How about allowing each team one challenge per game on calls at bases, trapped flys, etc., using video?

    Murphy will learn to cover bases, etc. It’s not that hard. And I like the way he backed up first base the other day.

  7. gary s. April 28, 2011 at 10:18 am
    Rickey Henderson lasted 2 decades in mlb sliding head first.Reyes and Murphy both cut class when fundamentals 101 were being taught and refused to ever make up the class.Does Ruben Tejada slide feet first?We will be critiquing his sliding acumen in 2012.We have no chance to win last nite’s game with castillo on the roster.Murphy worked on playing second in spring training for 6 weeks and was an infielder coming up.Either we have the worst coaching staff in baseball or Murphy is a hitting savant.
    • Walnutz15 April 28, 2011 at 10:24 am
      In fairness, Rickey Henderson was a genetic freak who had the running game down to a science. . . . .he always knew when to slide head-first as opposed to feet-first.

      Just look at the time he slid feet-first into home plate on his HR (breaking the runs scored record — HAHA).

      No one’s “critiquing” Reyes’ slides, so much as they’re citing Reyes maybe not understanding the advantage of going full-force, spikes-up into a defender trying to stop him from sliding in safely.

      There’s obviously something at work there, in his rationale behind the head-first slide —- and it boils down to comfort for him. I think it’s a “safety-measure” for him, because he’s not 100% comfortable sliding feet first while running full tilt.

      He’ll run the same risk of hurting himself, though – over-time.

      • Roland Agni April 28, 2011 at 11:05 am
        The key point is that Rickey mixed in feet-first slides. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen Jose slide feet-first, except maybe into 2B on double-play balls.

        BTW Pete Rose did a lot of headfirst sliding, it didn’t bother him much. I think there was some kind of study somewhere that proved there were more injuries from feet-first slides. Though, that could have been because there are more feet-first slides overall.

    • John April 28, 2011 at 8:36 pm
      Reyes will never learn to slide feet first at this point in his career. Probably would end up breaking an ankle at this point. But it is a concern when you look to give him a big money contract. He may never get hurt sliding head first but he is at an increased risk.
  8. Walnutz15 April 28, 2011 at 10:38 am
    Daniel Murphy Says Mets Shooting for 100 Wins

    “It’s a good win, but they’re all good,” he said. “We’re trying to get to a hundred. We’re a step closer.”

    . . . . . . .just gotta go 89-49 the rest of the way now, fellas. A mere 40 Games over .500. *wink*

  9. Bill April 28, 2011 at 6:31 pm
    Joe…trusting an umps bang-bang call over HD quality instant replay? Really? I can’t tell if its sarcasm, but the replay pretty clearly showed that Reyes stayed off the bag, even after Harriston tried to push him off. Further, Reyes’ reaction would be much more easily explained if he knew he never got off the base…
    • Joe Janish April 28, 2011 at 10:18 pm
      The replay showed no such thing “clearly”. It showed one inconclusive angle. We needed the angle directly above the bag and/or the ump’s angle. No sarcasm here.