Mets Game 7: Win Over Phillies

Mets 5 Phillies 2

The Mets assert their dominance as the NL East leaders and moved back into first place. Well, they were in first for a few hours — until the Nationals beat the Reds and pulled ahead by a half-game. But, with only 155 games left, this is turning into a dead heat for the division.

Mets Game Notes

It’s a really, really good thing the Mets won this game, because if they hadn’t, the contest might have served as a symbol of futility. For one, there was Justin Turner‘s name in the #3 spot of the starting lineup. Hey, I’m Turner’s biggest supporter, but third? Really? Then there was the ground ball that went right through Daniel Murphy‘s legs in the ninth. And crowning it all was the incredibly boneheaded play by Josh Thole, who, after being successfully sacrificed to second base, decided to leave second and jog back to first. Had the Mets lost this ballgame, Thole’s blunder would have have become a part of the darks side of the team’s history. Because the Mets won, this will be forgotten by Tuesday.

And yes, the Mets won, beating Cliff Lee of all people — even with Justin Turner batting third. If I hadn’t seen it myself I might not have believed it. But, R.A. Dickey was spectacular, with his knuckler dipping, diving, dancing, and darting all over the place — yet, within the strike zone. What I love about Dickey is feeling a distinct confidence that he’ll never be the victim of a big inning. Of course, it’s unrealistic to believe that at some point, some team will put together a big rally against him, but that’s my current perception — that Dickey may give up one run in an inning, perhaps two, but never more than that in any one frame. With that, a three-run lead seems to me to be very comfortable. If I were on the opposing club, and Dickey was up by three, I might feel as though the lead were insurmountable.

Hey, what do you say Jason Bay? He broke his slump in a big way, blasting an opposite-field homer off of the mighty Lee. Is this the big hit that will help Bay turn the corner, and return to being the slugger he was in Boston? Time will tell.

Speaking of Lee, he struggled mightily with his command, especially early on. That may sound strange considering that he walked none and allowed only five hits in seven innings. However, the key to Lee’s success is the ability to paint the corners and spot the baseball in all four quadrants of the strike zone. When he’s “right,” he puts the ball within two inches of his intended target. In this game, he was missing by four to five inches or more, and leaving the ball over the center of the plate. Bay’s bomb came on one of those center-splitting pitches, about waist high, and a similar pitch was served to Scott Hairston, who delivered it to a patron beyond the left field wall. The Mets were fortunate to catch Cliff Lee having a bad night.

Next Mets Game

The Mets defend their perch atop the NL East by facing the Phillies on Saturday afternoon. Game time is 4:05 p.m. and pits Jonathon Niese against Vance Worley.

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. friend April 13, 2012 at 11:28 pm
    “the incredibly boneheaded play by Josh Thole”

    My guess is that Jimmy Rollins told him that the bunt rolled foul.

  2. Midwestern Met April 14, 2012 at 12:17 am
    It has to be a major advantage for Dickey being the only knuckleballer in the league. No one else does it so batters don’t know how to approach it. When you can do something no one else in baseball can do, it’s an advantage every time. As long as he can make that knuckleball dance, R.A.’s gonna have a job.
  3. Josh Z April 14, 2012 at 12:49 am
    Bay is off the snide!
  4. Joe April 14, 2012 at 7:49 am
    Bay hit a home run and than went back to his old ways. Turner at #3 is about as strange as Bay as clean-up. As is, the team has a big hole in the middle with Bay/Davis/Duda not hitting.

    As to the play, Ron Darling explained in fact that Rollins was telling him that Dickey was tagged out or something (he obviously didn’t see what was going on running) to be neighborly. He took it the wrong way, thinking he was signaling that it went foul. Darling thought it was a trick at first too (the ball was obviously fair, so if Rollins said it was foul, it was a trick).

    It was a big bonehead move but if they lost it would be an excuse to blame it with two outs and Lee on the mound. Tejada would have needed to hit there and he only got one hit off Lee. Still, yeah.

  5. Steve S. April 14, 2012 at 10:01 am
    Hey, how about that homer Hairston hit off the hanging curveball?! He’s got some serious power!
  6. Lee April 14, 2012 at 10:19 am
    Why haven’t the Mets signed RA to a longer contract yet? What else does he have to do?
    • Steven April 14, 2012 at 11:42 am
      My guess, is that RA is looking for real money and some years, not a two year extension like the Mets would like to offer. If RA were a free agent now, it is not crazy to see him getting a Mark Buerhle type of contract. The fact he is a knuckleballer mitigates the age issue
      • DaveSchneck April 14, 2012 at 2:31 pm
        Dickster is signed for this season and the Mets hold an option for 2013, so there is no need to hurry. The knuckleball mitages age worry regarding his arm, but not his upper 30s body. It is not that easy to place a value on him, but Alderson clearly recognizes his value to the team and piopularity with the fan base, so my guess is if he can continue to start every five days he will be wearing a Mets uniform beyond 2013.
  7. Maratón met April 14, 2012 at 2:00 pm
    Did anyone ask thole why he returned to first?
    Was he fooled by body language or some type of trick or did rollins tell him the ball was foul? What do you think joe? Is it legal for rollins to say the ball was foul? Is it correct?