Mets Game 81: Loss to Verlander
Verlander (and Tigers) 5 Mets 2
You can’t get too upset about this one. Justin Verlander is other-worldly this year. And in fact, the fact the Mets scored a run off of him and made him look human in the early innings should be seen as some kind of small success.
Mets Game Notes
Right now, Verlander is exactly where everyone hoped he’d be when he was drafted #2 overall in 2004 (just think, Matt Bush was picked first, and Phil Humber #3 … huh). He is at the top of his game and possibly the most dominant pitcher in MLB right now. In other words, he is to pitching what Jose Reyes is to offense … though, a bit better. The fact Dan Murphy sent one over the fence against him, and the Mets might’ve scored in the first inning if only a Jason Pridie liner went a foot to the right or left, is reason for optimism.
I’m not sure what to make of Mike Pelfrey. He struggled with his command, throwing 90 pitches in the first three innings, which was partly due to inconsistent mechanics but also due to a lack of confidence. Case in point: walking Don Kelly in the second inning — a batter against whom Pelfrey never should have gone to three balls. He seems to struggle more when working from the stretch — something we’ve seen since his rookie year, though it’s not quite as obvious. At times, his mechanics look pretty good — staying on a straight line toward the plate — though particularly on off-speed pitches. In the first few innings, his follow-through was very different when he threw his fastball; he was falling off toward first base. Because the camera angle from centerfield is limited and atrocious, I’m not sure whether he’s doing something differently early in his motion to “tip off” his pitches to the batter, but I think it’s possible — after all, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and if he is falling toward 1B on fastballs but staying square on off-speed pitches, then one could surmise that something different is happening earlier in the motion. It could be something as simple as a slight shoulder turn or a head movement; I can’t tell from the TV angle provided.
I’m also wondering if some of Pelf’s issues have something to do with Josh Thole behind the plate. Pelfrey and Thole don’t seem to be on the same wavelength, and if a pitcher does not have confidence in what his catcher is calling, it can weigh on his psyche — which in turn affects his focus.
In addition to Murphy’s homer, another positive was that Jose Reyes had yet another multi-hit game. Also of note: Jason Bay went 2-for-4. Bay is still not looking like a feared slugger, but his ability to make contact and reach base safely is encouraging. Bay-bee steps.
Alarmingly bad fundies in the third, when, after an RBI single by Ramon Santiago, the throw from the outfield went to third base — which was correct. However, third baseman Dan Murphy was standing in no-man’s-land between third and short, rather than covering the bag, and Pelfrey was jogging to an area behind home plate, instead of backing up third. The throw went wild and Santiago wound up on third base. The shame is that Angel Pagan was charged with the error, when really it was a mental error by Murphy (and Pelfrey).
Frankie Rodriguez got the final two outs in the bottom of the eighth to earn his 30th finish of the year. I know he hadn’t pitched since
July June 26, but gee whiz, did he have to finish the game? I’m starting to wonder if in fact Terry Collins is getting a portion of that vesting option. Maybe it’s time to start rooting for K-Rod to get the pot of gold, so the Mets can do something with David Einhorn’s $200M loan.
Next Mets Game
The Mets head back home to host another New York team whose name slips my mind for a three-game weekend holiday series. Game one begins at 7:10 PM on Friday night, with Jon Niese facing Ivan Nova of the Yankees (I knew I’d remember the team name eventually).