Mets Game 66: Loss to Pirates

Pirates 3 Mets 1

Generally speaking, you’ll take a split on the road. But, this seemed like a series the Mets could have taken, if not swept.

Mets Game Notes

For the second straight start, Mike Pelfrey pitched well, allowing only two runs on 4 hits and no walks, striking out 6 in an efficient, 81-pitch, seven-inning effort. But, Pirates pitcher Paul Maholm was better, shutting out the Mets through seven frames en route to his 50th career win. Maholm kept the Mets hitters in check by simply throwing strikes on the edges of the plate, mixing speeds, and offering enough breaking pitches to keep the hitters thinking.

Jose Reyes did not get any hits but he did drive in the Mets’ only run.

The Mets as a team managed only four hits, though they did walk three times. Dan Murphy led the way with two singles, which was impressive considering he collected both against the lefthanded Maholm.

Terry Collins’ first inning argument performance was disappointing. He was out there arguing about an obstruction call for almost ten minutes. If you’re going to be out there that long, be entertaining. Throw stuff around. Bump the umpire. Get the veins popping. Something. And get thrown out! I don’t understand what he was doing out there so long — he was loitering.

In regard to that play, I disagreed with Keith Hernandez’s assertion that there was no obstruction on the play. Jose Tabata clearly hesitated and changed his running course due to Jose Reyes’ presence near the baseline. I would say, though, that the call could’ve gone either way, because it was a subtle obstruction and Reyes might have been more than three feet out of the baseline. But it was close enough to get called.

Another beef with Keith: he pointed out that Pirates hitter Lyle Overbay swings with a locked front hip. I agree, but why hasn’t Keith ever addressed this issue with Dan Murphy? It’s not quite as obvious as Overbay, but Murphy certainly cuts off his swing and does not incorporate his lower half enough due to his inefficient hip action. Murphy tends to lean his front hip out and toward his back side rather than pivoting through; it’s almost as if he’s fighting against his hips, rather than using them. Yes, Murphy makes a lot of contact but he’d likely hit with more power if he did a better job of using his lower half — just like Overbay, who is a big guy who looks like a slugger but isn’t.

Dan Murphy got in a pickle between second and third in the fifth, disrupting what might have been a mild rally. It was disappointing that he got caught, but more disappointing from a baseball purist’s point-of-view was seeing another horrendous execution of rundown defense by the Bucs. Earlier in the series they nearly botched a rundown involving Josh Thole, and in this one, it took them four throws to retire Murphy when it should’ve taken two at most. I expect to see that kind of ineptitude at the high school JV level, not in MLB.

Also, Murphy really needs to keep hitting the way he’s hitting to make up for his shortcomings on the bases and in the field.

For the second time in as many days, a sac fly resulted in a double play. So much for my statement that it is a rare occasion. It happened in the top of the 8th on a fly ball by Jose Reyes that was converted into a sliding shoestring catch by Jose Tabata. Ruben Tejada properly tagged and scored but Lucas Duda thought the ball dropped safely and advanced to second base.

Speaking of, kudos to the umpire who made that “out” call. He made the call immediately and correctly, and it wasn’t that easy a call to make. All too often we get on umpires for making bad calls, so for once, allow me to point out a very good call.

The Bucs bullpen has shown to be no so good in this series. I don’t understand how Jose Veras can throw in the upper 90s and walk Ruben Tejada, who had no prayer of catching up to his fastball.

I was a little surprised to see lefthanded-hitting Xavier Paul bat against LOOGY Tim Byrdak with the bases loaded and one out in the 8th. There were a few reasons Matt Diaz wasn’t brought in to pinch-hit: a) Diaz is hitting only .214 vs. LHPs this year; b) Paul is a better defensive player; and c) Paul is faster and thus less likely to bounce into a double play. Despite the reasoning, if I were the manager I might have put Diaz in there with the hopes of breaking the game open. Yes he’s only hitting .214 vs. lefties this year but historically he destroys lefties and it is essentially his reason for being in MLB. In other words, I don’t expect him to continue to struggle so mightily against lefties, and would hedge my bet that he’d have a better chance of getting a base hit off of Byrdak than the youngster.

Next Mets Game

The Mets move on to Atlanta to face the Braves on Tuesday night. Game time is 7:10 PM and will feature starting pitchers Jonathon Niese and Jair Jurrjens.

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 June 13, 2011 at 10:26 pm
    Mets pitchers need to do some bunting drills.
    • murph June 14, 2011 at 12:50 am
      Agreed. How many times have we seen Mets fail to bunt in crucial situations this season? And it is not just the pitchers, either.

      Do they have a bunting coach? I know the art of bunting is not what it used to be, and is usually only worked on in spring training, but if Terry Collins insists on using it as an integral part of his strategy to manufacture runs, they need to go back to school.

      If your manager calls on you to bunt, you owe it to your teammates to execute!

      And if you are the manager and are asking them to bunt, you should make sure they are equipped to do so.

      What is Bud Harrelson doing now? Get him in for a week of remedial lessons.

      • max_dugan June 14, 2011 at 2:52 am
        Terry Collins said that his Mets team would be strong fundamentally. Therefore it must be so. The recent bad bunting must simply be a transgression.

        Same with the idiotic baserunning over the last few days.

  2. izzy June 14, 2011 at 7:35 am
    Why didyou feel the Mets should win the series or sweep. The Pirates are the Mets now. They have reached mediocrity and like the Mets have spent much of the season trying to get to .500. Two teams at the same level and they splity two four game series. Exactly what one should have expected. And I don’t understand the surprise of a 98 mile an hour fireballer not throwing strikes. They are all over the place, we should all be used to it by now. As for Murphy, I’m not sure there is enough hits by anyone to mkae up for his hideous little league caliber play eveywhere outside the batter’s box.
    • Joe June 14, 2011 at 8:54 am
      Duda and Pagan both fouled up on the base paths the last few days. More than one pitcher can’t lay down bunts. Repeatedly. Murphy is part of a pattern. And, it’s a handful of cases everyone remembers.

      Murphy’s first base defense is adequate; it is no better or worse than many hitters in the NL out there for their bat. And, he is just starting there.

      • izzy June 14, 2011 at 9:30 am
        Murphy is just getting started at first base., Hate to break it to you but Murphy has no future at first base in New York. First base is called Ike Davis’ home. You can argue his defense all you want, but close observation well any observation shows he makes major gaffes reguarly on the field and on the bases. He has a baseball IQ of incredibly low proportions. You can mention a mistake by other players but you can mention scores of blunders by Murphy.
        • Joe June 14, 2011 at 12:11 pm
          There is no need for you to be all snarky; that is the place he got the most playing time, so that’s the place to honestly focus on his skills.

          The fact remains that Murphy plays as adequate as any number of NL players (and probably some AL) who are there for their bat. He hasn’t had extended time at ANY position. Wright still made errors at third after years there.

          Also, I count on one hand the “major gaffes” on the bases that get all the focus. I’ll match failed bunts, repeatedly, by pitchers to such things. I’m not denying he’s a mediocre player defensively. You have to have a pretty good team not to have some of those on the roster.

    • FrankTaveras June 14, 2011 at 11:28 am
      MPH not the issue. If a guy can’t throw a four-seam fastball over the middle of the plate he shouldn’t be in MLB. Joe’s right Tejeda’s slow bat can’t catch up to serious heat.