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.