Mets Game 129: Win Over Phillies

Mets 7 Phillies 4

Just when you were ready to write off Mike Pelfrey, he mans up at Citizens Bank Park and gives you a glimmer of hope.

Mets Game Notes

Let’s get one thing straight: Mike Pelfrey didn’t pitch well. But he pitched well enough to win, and often this year the case has been the opposite — pitching just well enough to lose. In the first few frames, it appeared as though that would not be the case, as he allowed an early Mets lead to diminish with each passing inning. But then he shut the door suddenly.

Big Pelf pitched six full innings, allowing three runs on 9 hits and 2 walks, striking out 2. Technically, that qualifies as a “quality start”. The fact he did this in Philadelphia, in a game that could have easily been given away, has to be seen as progress. I don’t think Pelfrey will ever be the front-end starter that we hoped he’d be, but he’s fine as an innings-eater at the back end. Maybe if we think of him in that way, it’ll be easier to stomach his starts.

In a bizarre moment, Placido Polanco leaned into, then away from, an inside fastball by Pelfrey, prompting Pelfrey to tell him to get out of the way (in so many words). The two exchanged pleasantries before Josh Thole stepped in front of Polanco, politely asked him to cool it, and then ran to the mound to calm down Pelfrey. Was Polanco looking to get hit by the pitch? Maybe. Probably. It was a savvy attempt by a savvy player that didn’t work out, but sometimes does. Former Met Ron Hunt was a master at the craft, as was Fernando Vina, among others. I describe the moment as bizarre because it seemed as though Pelfrey was expressing anger toward an opposing player — something we rarely see — and on top of it, Thole was in the awkward position of being peacemaker. Those are the last two Mets I’d expect to see in the middle of any kind of fracas, yet there they were. A good sign? Maybe. I’m not saying they need to get into fights. Rather, I sincerely believe that Pelfrey in particular would be a better pitcher if he occasionally got himself a little worked up and angry at the opposition, in a mean, controlled manner. Batters should be scared of a 6’7″ giant throwing 95 MPH, but based on their body language, it doesn’t appear anyone is fearful in the batter’s box against “Big Pelf”. Just a hint of fear in the back of a batter’s mind is enough to give the pitcher an advantage.

Angel Pagan made another throwing error, and it was truly unnecessary. It came on a drive off the bat of Chase Utley in 7th, with the Mets up by 4 and Utley almost certainly stopping at second base with a standup double. But Pagan rushed to get the ball back to the infield, overthrew the cutoff man, allowing Utley to get to third. Maybe Ruben Tejada could have been in a better position, I’m not sure, but in any case it was yet another mental error that became a physical error for Pagan.

Speaking of Utley, he still cuts off his swing and looks like he’s placing the ball as a golfer might instead of swinging through the ball and getting a good, high follow-through. I first noticed and mentioned this back in May when Utley returned from his knee injury, and I wonder if it’s something he’s doing on purpose — and if so, if it’s to take pressure off the knee, or simply to drive the ball to specific spots. If it’s the former, I also have to wonder if he’ll be able to easily “change back” his swing once he’s 100% healthy and regain the power that helped him hit 30 HR per year.

The Phillies nearly mounted a rally in the 8th against Manny Acosta, who was first victimized by poor infield defense (an error by Lucas Duda) and then saved by stellar infield defense (a diving stab by Justin Turner that turned into a double play).

Bobby Parnell was a little shaky in his first opportunity as the Mets closer but he wiggled out of trouble to nail down his first save of 2011. Parnell touched 102 MPH but as usual had trouble harnessing his firepower.

Holy Nick Evans! Who is this guy, where did he come from, and how do we get some more? Evans hit for the cycle between games two and three, and provided most of the offensive firepower in this win, contributing a double, homerun, and single as well as a run scored and four RBI. His batting average increased by about 80 points in two days. He’s clearly in a zone, and as long as he is, let’s see him get more at-bats. Bat him first or second — what the heck, there’s nothing to lose at this point.

Next Mets Game

The Mets get a day off to make that long trip up the NJ Turnpike back to Flushing to face the Braves for a three-game set beginning on Friday. Game time is 7:10 PM and features Chris Capuano vs. Tim Hudson.

Mets 2011 Games

About the Author

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.

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