Mets Game 6: Loss to Nationals
Nationals 4 Mets 0
The surging Nationals take two from the Mets, moving into a first-place tie with the NL East leaders. This won’t bother me so much if these two teams occupy the same spot in September. Heck, I’ll be happy if they’re still tied for first in May.
Mets Game Notes
It’s a minor miracle the Nationals didn’t score more than four. Mets pitching issued 10 walks, but the Nats couldn’t take advantage of the several rallies those freebies afforded.
Johan Santana was responsible for three of those walks, as well as five hits but only one earned run in his five innings of work. Strangely, Terry Collins allowed Santana to bat in the bottom of the fifth, and start the sixth inning, despite running his pitch count to 93; he exited after his 99th pitch walked Jayson Werth.
Meanwhile, the Mets could do nothing with Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who struck out nine, walked three, and allowed two hits in his six-inning outing. It’s not every day you see a pitcher throw a 90-MPH changeup (and it be an appropriate speed). Interestingly, this was the first time in his professional career that he threw at least 100 pitches (he left after 108). All that coddling didn’t prevent Tommy John surgery. Huh.
Every Mets hitter looked uncomfortable against the flamethrowing Strasburg — except for Ruben Tejada, who had one of the two hits against him and appeared ready and able in the batter’s box. Tejada is clearly playing with a ton of confidence right now.
Though he finally collected his first hit of the season, Ike Davis looks awful through the first five games. His hands are moving forward too early and he’s not seeing the ball well because his head is moving as well. Even on his 6th-inning single, he looked fooled, with his front side and hands committed too early. And how many times has he struck out so far? 30? OK, maybe not that many but it feels like it.
Jason Bay also continues to look bad, and he received no help from the home plate umpire, who called two strikes on pitches that were several inches off the outside corner that struck out Bay in the sixth. The called third strike was — literally — in the lefthanded hitter’s batter’s box and maybe a foot off the plate. Bay had every right to argue and he did.
Not long after Bay filing a complaint, Terry Collins was ejected from the game during a pitching change for questioning the umpire’s judgment.
In the second inning, Josh Thole demonstrated why catchers should not try to use their glove to “field” balls in the dirt — because pitches usually have unpredictable spin and can bounce off the glove and get away. The wild pitch resulted in the Nats’ first run of the game scoring from third. Ideally, the catcher uses the glove to get himself into position to block (rather than field) the ball. The glove should be the first part of the body that moves, and it should go directly to the ground at an angle to deflect the ball back toward home plate; the rest of the body follows behind the glove, which winds up on the ground and plugging the “hole” between the catcher’s knees. Thole’s first move was using his feet to shuffle laterally, as an infielder might. That is the traditional way catchers are taught to block, and unfortunately, it’s slow and usually ineffective. But, like pitching coaches, catching coaches generally have no knowledge of kinesiology and the science of human body movement, so it’s not shocking to see the same mechanics of the 19th century still being used today.
Then in the sixth, Thole showed why catchers shouldn’t try to backhand balls in the dirt, should always keep their eye on the ball as it’s coming in (rather than sneaking a peek at the runner) and, when in doubt, should try to get the glove down to plug that “hole” between their knees — as a Manny Acosta slider slipped under him and allowed Jayson Werth to take second base.
I don’t mean to pick on Thole, but rather to use his actions as a means of instruction to young catchers and their coaches. Sharing my experience and knowledge is part of the reason for this blog, after all.
Danny Espinosa did his best impression of Daniel Murphy at second base, botching two double plays. The second one he blew (in the 8th) was incomprehensible, as he rushed a throw with slow-footed Ike Davis ambling down the first base line. The throw got away, giving Davis second base.