Mets Game 73: Loss to Athletics

Athletics 7 Mets 3

All streaks must come to an end sometime — that’s why they’re called streaks.

And though one marvelous streak ended, another one might have begun.

Mets Game Notes

Dillon Gee’s undefeated status came to an end, due mainly to his inability to throw strikes. Gee walked 6 batters in 4 innings, and clearly could not put the ball where he wanted to. Gee’s success is entirely dependent on pinpoint command, and that’s something we’ve seen from him since he arrived in late 2010, so this was a particularly upsetting outing to watch.

What was wrong? I have two theories. One is that there is something physically wrong, perhaps with his elbow. I conjure this because only three of his 87 pitches were curveballs, and he didn’t throw a deuce until the third inning. Maybe that was because he was perpetually behind hitters, or maybe it was because the pitch was causing some kind of discomfort; if it was, it would most likely be in the elbow area.

My second theory is a minor mechanical aberration. I need to go back and look at his previous starts, but something about his motion looked slightly unusual to me. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it was, but it had something to do with him lifting his chin / head as he came out of his leg lift and toward the stride. On some pitches, I didn’t see it, but on other pitches, I did; what I saw was his chin tilting up just a bit more than normal — or, it might have been a slight hesitation that made the chin lift look more pronounced. Now you might ask, why would such a minor thing affect his command? Because that tiny aberration will change the timing of his motion from that point forward, and in a pitching motion there are many things that happen in less than a second. One change that disrupts the timing by a few milliseconds could in turn affect the release point by an inch or two, and that’s all it takes to make a pitch several inches (or feet) off target.

I don’t have the benefit of multiple camera angles, nor do I have the kind of high-speed motion analysis needed to figure this out, but it looked like that little aberration of lifting his chin (or pausing?) was causing Gee’s arm to be slightly behind where it needed to be when his front foot landed. What he needed to do was eliminate that extra “beat” in his motion and he would have been OK; it is a timing issue.

So while Gee’s winning streak came to an end, there was good news: Jason Bay’s streak might be just beginning. Bay was the Mets’ star of the game, with two fine sliding catches on defense and a perfect day at bat: one single, one triple, one homerun, and one walk, accounting for 2 RBI and a run scored. Maybe this game is the one that kicks him into gear; I have confidence that it will.

We discussed what Dillon Gee might have been doing wrong, so let’s talk about what Jason Bay was doing right. First off, I saw a complete change in his demeanor from his first at-bat: he looked focused and confident. Previously, he looked anxious and confused — I’m talking about his facial expression and body language. But in this game, for whatever reason, Bay appeared not be concerned with anything but seeing the ball; there was no anxiety, no stress, only focus.

Just as important, I saw Bay stepping “light”. For those who have been reading this blog since spring training, you may remember I have mentioned that Bay has been stepping “heavy” and his hands have moved forward as he strides. What I meant by “heavy” is that some of his weight was moving toward the pitcher and transferring to his front foot when his front foot landed; simultaneously, his hands began moving the bat forward. However, in this game, there was no weight transferred when his stride foot landed — you could see it because his front heel was off the ground and his hands were back; it was not unlike what David Wright did pre-Citi Field, where he strode early but kept his weight back and just kind of waited there for an extra few milliseconds before uncoiling his weight as he swung. That’s exactly what Bay was doing: stepping but keeping the bat and his weight back until he committed to swinging. Considering that Bay is a notorious streak hitter, I am going to go on a limb and say that this change in his stride will cause him to go on a tear.

If you haven’t surmised by now, Dillon Gee’s timing is off, and Jason Bay’s is on. I guess you can’t have everything.

Besides Bay, the Mets had exactly two hits: one each by Angel Pagan and Justin Turner.

D.J. Carrasco allowed 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks in a 45-pitch, 2-inning outing. Ouch.

The A’s bullpen did everything possible to allow the Mets back into the ballgame in the 8th inning, but the Mets hitters squandered a bases-loaded situation that could have been converted into a major rally. But hey, it was exciting for a few minutes.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and A’s do it again at 7:10 PM on Wednesday night. R.A. Dickey faces Gio Gonzalez.

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. Dan N. June 22, 2011 at 4:38 am
    Hey Joe, this is a little off topic, but what do you think about Wily Mo Pena’s debut this season? Why didn’t let Mets recall him like you told them to?
  2. Walnutz15 June 22, 2011 at 8:07 am
    The Mets are starting to hit their stride….down the stairs to the basement.

    I only caught from the 8th inning on (on TV), as other more important matters kept me driving around until later on in the evening. 2 weeks-worth of laundry from Tahiti – bill-paying, bank-visiting, all that other good stuff when you come back from a tropical paradise….back to reality!!

    Listened on the radio – and was thankful to have heard more of Howie Rose than that clown Wayne Hagin. You could hear the disgust in Howie’s voice as the Met pitching staff walked the A’s around the ballpark.

    Can’t believe they couldn’t put a run on the board in that 8th inning – then again, that’s a lie….considering it’s more or less their m.o. with RISP.

    From now on, please refer to DJ Carrasco as Sean Green.

    What a miserable signing (“oh, stop – we got him for cheap) – in an off-season where no one was picked up, we forked over 2-years, no less.

    At least Bay finally put a ball out of the yard….and would have had another in almost any other ballpark in the bigs on his 2nd bid.

    Finally a bit of a hot streak from him. . . .rumor had a pig flying over Citi last night, so I’m guessing that’s what the display of pop can be attributed to.

    In all seriousness, Bay’s raised his average 22 points this week – with 4 multi-hit games in his last 6.

    He needs to prove to us that he’s not “Robbie Alomar: The Sequel” – and that this talk of “using his legs more” is for real, and not yet another attempt to tell us he’s figured out what the problem’s been.

    Still rooting for him, as hard as he’s been to follow.

    Wright gets his back examined tomorrow, so let’s hope for good news. I’m getting tired of following this team on their basement chase….it could get ugly in the upcoming weeks on the road.

    • izzy June 22, 2011 at 9:29 am
      Teams probably have new books on Turner, Murphy Tejada, Paulino. Average players who were all on a streak, are falling to their expected norms. And Reyes has cooled from an incredible hot streak. They couldn’t reach 500 with everyone (minus Bay of course) doing career year type stuff, the next few weeks could bring us down to trader Jack and the new Marlins. So will Sandy alderson stop studying and finally make a move?. It took him over half a year to even call Jose’s agent. Wonder how long he thinks he has to make a deal.
      • FrankTaveras June 22, 2011 at 9:33 am
        Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s all Sandy’s call. It wasn’t Omar’s, it wasn’t Jim Duquette’s, it wasn’t Steve Phillips’ …. you know what I’m sayin’?
    • Joe Janish June 22, 2011 at 9:31 am
      Locking up D.J. Carrasco for two years was a brilliant move — everybody knows that. Sandy, DePodesta, etc. were taking advantage of a market inefficiency (slop-up, mop-up relievers who throw 8 pitches from 5 arm angles but none consistently for strikes are undervalued).
    • Joe June 22, 2011 at 9:35 am
      Gee had a bad outing. He was due. Six of the nine walks came from him. And as to DJ, yeah, he’s mediocre. The Mets didn’t have much money to spend. Who do you expect them to get? BTW, Byrdak haters. He’s doing pretty good for a pitcher on the cheap now.

      The As starters are pretty good. The Mets aren’t the only ones who they held them down. But, yeah, the Mets are coming down to earth. The upcoming schedule promises to be even harder in that respect. Hard as it is to remember, but the Mets actually was decent the First Half of last year too.

      As to the lead article, “Mets hitters squandered a bases-loaded situation” — only one hitter had a chance to do something there. Thole. Two outs (one as I recall was a good catch), no one on. Bases then got loaded.

      • Joe June 22, 2011 at 9:38 am
        BTW, the suggestion he might be injured is mean. This is the case even if it’s true.
        • Joe Janish June 22, 2011 at 12:39 pm
          Huh???? Why is it “mean” to suggest that there might be an injury? Please explain, because that makes zero sense to me. If I were WISHING an injury, that would be mean. But how is it mean to consider the possibility?

          If anything it is the opposite of mean, because it would be a valid reason that his command was off.

        • Joe June 22, 2011 at 1:52 pm
          I was kidding — there has been so many injuries that yet another one to a bright light of the season would be hard to take. It was not meant to be taken so seriously.
        • Joe Janish June 22, 2011 at 2:17 pm
          OK. Don’t do that to me. I never wish bad things on anyone, not even my enemies.

          Next time be funnier and more obvious!

  3. gary s. June 22, 2011 at 10:26 am
    Another game at citifield where the home team had no resemblance to a major league team.The attendence waa better, but i think half the crowd goes to get something to eat and doesn’t even watch the game.Not that i blame them.Btw, a friend of a friend arranged for a shake shack burger and fries to be delivered to my seat last nite.My review is 3 stars,Good burger, but i wiuld not stand on line for an hour for one.I have a ticket for thursday, where tje highlight probably will be to walk on the field after the game with all my senior met friends