Mets Game 4: Win Over Nationals

Mets 4 Nationals 3

What the Wilpons needed more than anything else was a hot start, and exciting baseball, to get people excited and buy tickets to dig them out of debt.

Mets Game Notes

Mike Pelfrey was his usual unpredictable self, struggling with his command and confidence in the early going, but pitching just fine as long as there were no baserunners.

Meantime, the other eternal enigma Edwin Jackson was similarly inconsistent, and, like Pelfrey, was getting lots of swings and misses to add more to the maddening frustration. Watching this game was somewhat bizarre, because it was as if Pelfrey were pitching for both sides.

If there is any excuse for the dual enigmas, it’s that the home plate umpire had a pretty tight strike zone. He wasn’t giving away many “pitcher’s pitches.”

Was it me, or did the Nats hit an unusually high number of singles up the middle against Big Pelf?

If Pelfrey’s job was to keep the Mets in the game and give them a chance to win, then I guess you could say he did that — he left the game tied with two outs in the sixth. It was nice of him to let Miguel Batista make his first appearance of 2012; but then, no one ever said Mike wasn’t generous.

How about Kirk Nieuwenhuis jumping all over a meatball by Jackson and putting it into the right field stands for his first big league homer? Beautiful thing to watch. I was a little surprised that Terry Collins pulled Captain Kirk in the 8th with none out and Josh Thole on second base. I get it: Kirk hits lefty, there was a lefty on the mound, and every concrete-headed dinosaur knows that young lefty hitters can’t hit veteran lefty pitchers. But jeez Louise, the kid had just hit a bomb a few innings before, and Tom Gorzelanny was working on his third inning of work, and just allowed Thole to hit a bullet. As expected, Davey Johnson responded by bringing in his flamethrowing righthander Henry Rodriguez, who whiffed pinch-hitter Scott Hairston without breaking a sweat. Sometimes, it’s OK to go against conventional thinking. In that situation, if you let Nieuwenhuis hit, Johnson is likely to leave Gorzelanny in to pitch to him — and Gorzelanny was showing signs of fatigue, which often leads to reduced command. Maybe a tired Gorzelanny would have let up another meatball up in the zone for Kirk to wallop.

It would seem that the book on Danny Espinosa is to feed him pitches up and away.

Ian Desmond is another enigma. He’s clearly a talented hitter, but has zero discipline. The double-play grounder he hit in the third inning was a prime example — he appeared as though he were going to swing at the pitch coming in no matter what, and it turned out to be a fastball in on his hands that jammed him. Terrible approach on a 0-1 count.

Right now, David Wright is a presence. His body language exudes him to be a dominating figure when he steps into the batter’s box, as a hitter who must be feared. He had that body language a few years ago, but it went away when the Mets moved into Citi Field. Even though it’s early in the season, I’ll go on a limb and say that David is back.

Ike Davis seems to be setting up in his stance with his hands lower than he did in the past. Anyone else notice this? I’m not sure what it’s affecting, if anything, nor why he might have changed. Maybe because he’s trying to correct his uppercut, by forcing his hands to go up and back as he strides? Or to reduce the size of his hitch? Whatever he was doing before seemed to be working just fine, so not sure why he’d change anything. Then again, it’s possible my memory is really awful, and he hasn’t changed a thing.

Ron Darling at the end of the SNY broadcast: “Daniel Murphy makes the play of his career at second base to get the Mets out of trouble … then delivers the game-winning single …” Really Ron? Play of his career? Wow, have we sunk that low, that the fourth game of a season can be THAT historic? Yikes!

Yes, right now, Daniel Murphy is God. But for the love of Mike Vail I really hope that this otherwise irrelevant game doesn’t turn out to be one of the highlights of his career.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Nationals play game two in Flushing on Tuesday night at 7:10 p.m. Dillon Gee is scheduled to start against Ross Detwiler.


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. wohjr April 9, 2012 at 10:42 pm
    Fair point Joe, but it was an awfully nice flip to Tejada…

    WOW, I feel like we just won the giant powerball… 4-0 and counting– can the metsies reel off another 158? Tonight everything and anything feels possible, viva los mets

  2. Midwestern Met April 9, 2012 at 11:22 pm
    Murph’s got a glove! Who knew? Great win. Plus we know Justin Turner’s the new cream pie boy! Might be hard with that flaming red hair to sneak up on guys though.
  3. Brainsliver2 April 9, 2012 at 11:32 pm
    I only saw the video highlights on, but if you can, look at the throw from Wright on the double play he started. You could only see it for a second, but Davis seemed to stretch and take a low throw to complete the double play. I think having a decent glove at first is often underrated.
  4. Bill April 9, 2012 at 11:57 pm
    Keith talked about Ike’s swing changes in the opener, which I believe you said you missed. I don’t recall offhand the reasoning behind it (I believe it was to make him quicker to the ball?), but you are not seeing things and this appears to be part of a conscious effort on Ike’s behalf. Like you said though, why change anything after his first two seasons…?
    • Joe Janish April 10, 2012 at 9:07 pm
      Yes I did miss the opening banter, thank you for filling me in. Weird. Why fix what ain’t broke?
  5. Josh Z April 10, 2012 at 12:22 am
    Mets looked real good coming back, worried about Pelf though
  6. Joe April 10, 2012 at 10:45 am
    “If Pelfrey’s job was to keep the Mets in the game and give them a chance to win, then I guess you could say he did that — he left the game tied with two outs in the sixth.”

    Well, yes, that is his job. A major draw is supposed to be that he’s an innings eater etc. Comparing Jackson to him is a good move & Pelfrey is somewhat lucky he hasn’t racked up similar frequent flyer miles.

    I hope David is back. He can replace Beltran as the star vet. Maybe Ike can come back too. Bay was never much here, but Ike didn’t seem this out of it during ST.

    Charming beginning. Bullpen starting well. The fear there is that overwork, especially with Santana not going long. Probably wanted the poet to go longer there.

    Murphy is reamed as a lousy second baseman and he made a good play (for him, we can say very good). “God” status isn’t quite there yet. If the play gets him confident for the rest of the year at that position, it just might mean a lot. And, in the sense “career so far,” it was surely up there. Ron — rather testy for him (on Strasberg’s pitch count etc.) — was a bit ebullient there. Big deal. As to this game being “irrelevant,” the team is starting off well and had their first come from behind win. One game at a time. It’s quite relevant for now.

    The postgame comment that it was a bit too soon to pie in the face, let’s pace ourselves more was a good one. Still, with the Debby Downer dominated theme out there, they have some reason to be happy. Like Lin pre-injury, enjoy it while you can and don’t look too far in the future.

  7. Gary S. April 10, 2012 at 10:52 am
    captain Kirk still looking for first home run if citicavern fences were not brought in to fair distances and we probably would have lost last nite.Vindication feels sweet.
    • Joe April 10, 2012 at 12:37 pm
      When the Mets lose some games because the other team hits home runs, I wonder how things will go.
  8. MikeT April 10, 2012 at 11:48 am
    Did we already forget about the Murphy behind the back play? Not nearly as important to that game, but I’d say a better play overall, yeah? Geez, a little dramatic Ron.

    I was one start late, but I did predict the Kirk HR. If he hits, Torres will replace Bay in the lineup whenever he returns, not Kirk. And Duda can move to left and Kirk can play right.

    Something else we might have overlooked: the bullpen is really flexible. The bug strikeout guys are Acosta, Parnell, and Francisco. Acosta and Parnell are bullets Terry can save for whenever he needs a big strikeout. And Ramirez can get lefties out so Byrdak can be saved as well if need be. If the team weakness is starting pitching, and 4/5 starts in a turn can keep the team in the game (heck even 3/5) then the Offense and Bullpen can carry this team. The Defense is pretty awful too, that will start showing up soon.

    It’s too early, but I’m having fun with this. How can you not?

    • Joe April 10, 2012 at 12:43 pm
      I didn’t even catch Ron’s comment honestly. It’s not a big deal. The trio are far from homers and Murphy’s troubles made a moment like that understandable.

      As to defense, how “pretty awful” is the team? The corners are protected. SS is at least decent. Bay is average. Thole is pretty average. The pitchers are average. So you have a weak 2nd base and maybe (depending on center) OF.

      I’m not going to rely on Acosta for much but the rest of your analysis seems sound. Will wait and see for OF.

      • MikeT April 10, 2012 at 2:44 pm
        Ike is good to great. Murphy is an adventure. Tejada is sound and hopefully steady, occasionally flashy. Wright has become one of the worst defenders at 3rd base among regulars. His throwing is inconsistent and his fielding is not nearly as sharp as it once was. Aside from the play on the weak hit ground ball he has to charge/bunt he is pretty unreliable. Thole cannot hold runners on and led the league in passed balls. He looks better but still no where near good. The OF has a below average Bay (he already took an awful route on a fly ball this season), Duda who should be hidden in LF not RF, and Torres who is probably the best defender overall on the team. Oh yeah and Torres is hurt, so Kirk Nieuwenhuis is there now who can play a good CF, but lack plus range and is better off as a plus defender in RF.

        So yeah, they will be downright awful at times this year. I am optimistic that Wright’s improved bat will mean an improved glove. And if Bay is dropped out of the lineup with Torres returning then overall OF defense won’t be so bad.

        • Joe April 10, 2012 at 5:09 pm
          A term like “pretty awful” should be used advisedly. I think you are a strict grader but it’s subjective enough that I doubt I’m going to change your mind. I would note Bay was average last year and that means sometimes he isn’t that good, so the bad play doesn’t tell me much.
        • MikeT April 11, 2012 at 10:33 am
          Fair enough. And I like Joe’s assessment below too. I do think Ike is better than the 4 he says are on par with Ike, however. Still, this is a major league team, and the defense will look fine or even good at times. It simply has the potential to get ugly. Last night was a good example. Parnell would have gotten out of the inning with average defense. The defense lost that game last night.
  9. Steven April 10, 2012 at 1:03 pm
    We should never underestimate the number of runs that Ike has already saved due to his superior, gold glvoe caliber defense. It is why he will stay in the lineup even if he hits .250
    • Joe Janish April 10, 2012 at 9:20 pm
      I agree that Ike Davis is a good, perhaps above-average MLB first baseman. However I don’t know that he’s Gold Glove caliber just yet — I need to see him prove that with some extraordinary defense. I’ve watched enough other MLB teams to know that there are many good-fielding 1Bs these days. Not taking anything away from Ike, because, again, he’s above-average, but, just pointing out that it is not unusual to have good D at 1B right now. Votto, Pujols, Teixeira, Youkilis, Carlos Pena, Helton, Adrian Gonzalez, and Derek Lee are all very good with the glove, maybe a step above Ike. Adam LaRoche, Freddie Freeman, James Loney, and Casey Kotchman are all on par with Ike, or very close. Gone are the days where teams hid a bad glove at 1B – there are many good athletes playing the position these days.