Mets Game 8: Win Over Phillies
Mets 5 Phillies 0
The Mets pound the last-place Phillies, winning the weekend series and lining up a sweep to be polished off on Sunday. However, the Mets gained no ground on the Nationals, who also won and remain a mere half-game ahead. This pennant race is really starting to heat up!
Mets Game Notes
Jonathon Niese was in mid-season form, with all of his pitches working. Over the past three years, I don’t remember any instance of Niese having good bite on both his overhand curve and
rinky dink slider cut fastball in the same game, yet that was the case in this afternoon contest — and the Phillies bats were no match for that dual-breaking arsenal. Niese walked one and allowed only five hits in 6 2/3 shutout innings. He was clearly out of gas in the seventh, and manager Terry Collins was wise to replace him; I think Collins might have pulled him two batters too late but no harm was done to the scoreboard (whether there was physical harm to Niese, we’ll never know).
Was it a case of Niese being that good or the Phillies offense being that bad? Probably a combination. Niese had good breaking stuff all day, and the Phillies rarely gave him the chance to fall behind on the count — they were noticeably aggressive, with only John Mayberry, Jr., showing any semblance of patience (even though Ty Wigginton was the lone Phillie to draw a walk). The Phillies’ approach — or lack of it — was strikingly reminiscent of the 2009-2010 Mets, a team that seemed to be in a hurry to complete at-bats. I suppose some of their offensive woes can be blamed on the absences of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, but will having both of those stars back in the lineup change the team’s overall approach? Hard to say; maybe, if the current players are trying to do more than they’re capable while the big bats are out. Who knows, if/when Howard and Utley return, perhaps Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins, and Hunter Pence will take more pitches, and be more selective.
I think three of the Phillies’ five hits against Niese were grounders that went through the hole between shortstop and third, and a fourth was an opposite-field flare by Rollins. The Phillies were swinging early and often, and rarely making good contact.
In contrast, there was the hitting demonstration performed by David Wright, who showed no ill effect from his broken pinky. Wright was sitting on and demolished a first-pitch fastball from Vance Worley in the initial inning, sending it over the centerfield fence. He collected two more hits on the day, though it felt like he was going to hit safely — and hit the ball hard — every time up. I’m still not sure how the Phillies retirEd Wright; maybe the scorecard is incorrect? He’s in a zone right now, seeing the ball well and recognizing pitches early.
Lucas Duda also hit a bomb off Worley, as well as a double. I think we can assume Duda is no longer in a slump. Ike Davis, on the other hand, is still looking less than himself. He continues to lunge and pull off the ball. At some point he’ll need to do what he’s done in the past during his slumps: sit back and consciously try to drive the ball to left field. One week of that and everything will be fixed.
Speaking of Worley, he reminds me of his teammate Joe Blanton — in girth, personality, repertoire, and style. Like Blanton, he has an upright delivery and follow through that has to be wreaking havoc on his arm — he puts most of the strain of deceleration on his arm instead of using his legs and back to absorb some of it. Also like Blanton, he works quickly and with confidence, pounding the strike zone with an average, slightly sinking fastball that he dares batters to hit (the Mets did on this occasion), mixing in a sharp 12-6 curve. And, his waistline looks like it has the potential to expand in to Blantonlike proportions. It wasn’t Worley’s day, but I enjoy watching him.
Worley’s unofficial personal catcher is former Met Brian Schneider, and either the Phillies uniform fits Schneider really poorly, or he’s gained some baby fat since leaving the Mets. I remember him being fairly svelte and in good shape; maybe being a backup results in weight gain.