Mets Game 12: Loss to Braves

Braves 14 Mets 6

It didn’t seem so long ago that the Mets were in first place and four games over .500. Then, we’ve collectively blinked, and suddenly the Mets are 7-5, tied for second place with the Braves, and not too far ahead of the third-place Marlins and last-place Phillies.

Mets Game Notes

Early on, it looked like R.A. Dickey was going to be dominant while Jair Jurrjens would struggle. Then the rain began to come down, and as if a switch had been flipped, Dickey’s knuckleball stopped knuckling, and Jurrjens continued to struggle — but was effective enough in four frames to keep the lead. By the time the game ended, the Braves scored at least two runs in six of the eight innings in which they batted. Ouch.

Great to see Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the leadoff spot, who did a good job of taking pitches, getting on base, scoring three times, and even accomplished the Mets’ third stolen base of the season. He went 3-for-4 with two doubles, 3 runs, a walk, and an RBI. It’s looking like Andres Torres has been Wally Pipped.

As mentioned in a previous post game analysis, Ike Davis seems capable of hitting only homeruns. Every other type of hit is a challenge.

Very strange to see the Braves use a modified version of the Boudreau Shift on David Wright, positioning Dan Uggla almost directly behind second base and pushing the other infielders a few steps to the left. Wright has certainly been hitting line drives and fly balls into right field this year, but perhaps he has not been hitting ground balls to the opposite side?

In the third inning, Tim Teufel sent Wright home from second on a ball that deflected off of Freddie Freeman‘s glove and trickled into short right field. Though Wright was thrown out by Uggla by ten feet, I thought it was a good call by Teufel for a few reasons. First, with Uggla’s back to the play there was a possibility he wouldn’t be aware or expect Wright to try to score. Second, Uggla had to pick up the ball perfectly, turn, and make a perfect throw — with rain coming down and very slick grass below his feet. Uggla’s execution would have been difficult in dry conditions, but the fact he did what he did in wet weather was very impressive. Sometimes you have to tip your cap.

By the way, Wright once again reached base at least twice, and his three RBI gave him 733 to tie him with Darryl Strawberry as the Mets’ all-time leader in that category.

Daniel Murphy went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run, but he went racing home from third on a bouncer to Freeman with none out in the fifth and was thrown out easily. Unlike the Wright / Uggla play, I didn’t like this decision, mainly because there were no outs and had he held, it would have been one out with men on second and third, which is still a very strong situation for the Mets. Also, although the conditions were still wet, it was a fairly routine play — the ball was hit right at Freeman, he saw the entire situation in front of him, and he had plenty of time to get a good grip on the ball and make a fairly short throw.

It’s not an official game unless Miguel Batista pitches, right? Would you believe the 42-year-old iron man was arguably the Mets’ most effective pitcher in this ballgame? He allowed no runs and no hits in 2/3 of an inning, striking out both batters he faced.

When Batista’s 2/3 of an inning is the best pitching effort of the game, the bullpen has not done a good job. Let’s just leave it at that and chalk it up to a bad day for everyone.

One of those relievers was Tim Byrdak, who threw 28 pitches in an ineffective two-thirds of an inning. That’s a heavy load for a LOOGY. He hasn’t been pitching all that often, but being well-rested isn’t necessarily a guarantee of prevention from injury. As a “one-out guy” Byrdak’s body is conditioned to hurl about 10-15 pitches per outing; approaching double that amount could mean he’s throwing beyond fatigue, and that’s when body parts break down. I know, it seems crazy to think that one inning can be too much, but you have to consider for what task the body is conditioned and the facts that Byrdak is in his late 30s and fresh off knee surgery.

Though it was irrelevant, Mike Baxter had another pinch-hit single. No stolen base this time, though. Terry Collins has promised that Baxter will get a start in the upcoming San Francisco series.

Interesting note: Jason Bay and Ronny Cedeno saw a combined 49 pitches between them. Encouraging, but not shocking to see Bay taking pitches, while Cedeno’s patience is a hugely significant and welcome contrast to what he’s done previously in his career.

Although this particular game had the double whammy of being a 12:15 start and he threat of rain, I have to point out that attendance for the series looked sparse — plenty of empty seats at Turner Field.

During the telecast, Bo Jackson was interviewed by Kevin Burkhardt and discussed his fund-raising bike ride across Alabama taking place next week. His goal is to raise one million dollars for the Governor’s Relief Fund to assist people in Alabama whose homes were devastated by tornadoes. Follow @BoJackson on Twitter and/or visit BoBikesBama for details, updates, and to donate.

Speaking of Bo, Gary Cohen pointed out that Jackson is the same age as Jamie Moyer, who won his first game of the year on Tuesday night. As the legendary Mel Allen might have said, “how about that?”

Next Mets Game

The Mets get a well-deserved and welcomed day off on Thursday, then come home to host the Giants for a four-game long weekend set. Game one begins at 7:10 p.m. and pits Jonathon Niese against Barry Zito.

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. murph April 19, 2012 at 12:01 am
    On a day when the 1st 4 batters in the line-up went 9 for 18, with 2 walks, 5 runs, 3 doubles, 1 HR, 6 RBI, plus R.A. Dickey on the mound, one would have expected a better outcome.

    Baseball is a funny game.

  2. Izzy April 19, 2012 at 7:47 am
    No matter how many hits Murphy gives you, he always finds a way to hurt the team.
  3. Walnutz15 April 19, 2012 at 12:07 pm
    Murphy’s a one-trick pony.

    The sooner he’s somewhere in the AL DH-ing, the better off his career will be.

  4. argonbunnies April 20, 2012 at 6:27 pm
    In a first and third situation with no one out, doesn’t the runner on third ALWAYS go home on a grounder? Either you get thrown out, and now you have runners on 1st and 2nd with one out, or they take the double play, in which case you score and now there’s two out and no one on.

    If you don’t go, then you risk being on third with two outs, which is by far the worst scenario of the three.

    Most balls that are clearly hit too slowly to turn two are also hit too slowly for a play at the plate. It’s a very rare grounder that is too slow for a DP and too fast to score on. I think it’s safe to say most baserunners would have gone for home there.

    If we can fault Murphy for anything, it’s for not getting a better lead and jump.

    • Joe Janish April 21, 2012 at 1:16 am
      You’re assuming a double play is going to happen, which isn’t necessarily the right thinking process, because usually, the man on third only needs to take a few steps off of third to cause the fielder to hesitate long enough to nullify the DP possibility. Therefore the right play is to wait and read the play; if the first baseman goes for the DP by throwing to 2B, you score easily — he’s giving you the run. Or, you dance off the bag to make him hesitate, and the worst situation is runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out.

      The speed of the groundball is not necessarily as important as where the ball is fielded. In this case, Freeman fielded the ball either even with the bag or a few steps in — it was an easy play. I don’t THINK Murphy was running on contact but maybe he was, and if he was, I’m not sure why. If there was one out, I’d be more inclined to agree with your thinking.

  5. argonbunnies April 20, 2012 at 6:30 pm
    Joe, completely agreed on Uggla’s play. I was surprised that the announcers didn’t give him more credit there. Great reaction, great pick-up and release, great throw.