Mets Game 20: Loss to Rockies

Rockies 18 Mets 9

Sometimes, all you need is one domino to fall. The Mets knocked that one domino over in the fifth, with two outs, and next thing you knew a tie ballgame became a comfy four-run lead. Then came the BOTTOM of the fifth inning …

Mets Game Notes

Ugly. That’s all that can be said when a team allows 18 runs on 19 hits and commits 6 errors. How often can a team be this disappointed after scoring 9 runs?

It was a comedy of errors, it was a circus. The remarkable point: take away the 5th and 7th innings, and the Mets win this one 5-2. Unfortunately, all innings count at the big-league level.

Chris Schwinden looked like a batting practice pitcher in this ballgame. His stuff is ordinary, his velocity is below average, and though he threw strikes, they were too high and caught too much plate. Unfortunately, none of this is news — it’s pretty much how we evaluated him last year as well.

Drew Pomeranz pitched OK before leaving the game with an injury, allowing two runs in four innings. Beyond the numbers, he looked like he had pretty good command of a hard running sinker that stayed around the knees. Though, I don’t love his mechanics, which seem a little, um, mechanical. He kind of hesitates as his arm goes back and then it looks like he “pies” the ball before moving it forward – meaning, it looks like he turns his palm upward as though he’s carrying a pie, which puts significant strain on the elbow. From what I understand, Pomeranz threw in the mid-90s as recently as a year ago, and has since seen his velocity drop to the low-90s. As it turns out, he was removed with “left forearm tightness.” You know what that means? Elbow injury and Tommy John surgery on the horizon. What are the chances he’ll adjust his delivery to avoid completely destroying his elbow? Slim and none. Maybe the Indians foresaw something when they were willing to give up Pomeranz for Ubaldo Jimenez.

TERRIBLE baseball by the Rockies in the first inning — on both ends of it. In the top of the first, Pomeranz had David Wright picked off first with Kirk Nieuwenhuis on third and two out. Though the Rox eventually retirEd Wright, it took three throws — which is two too many — and they allowed Captain Kirk to score from third in the process. Then in the bottom of the first, with Marco Scutaro on third, none out, and the Mets infield playing back, a grounder was hit to Ruben Tejada and Scutaro anchored to third instead of going home. As it turned out, Scutaro eventually scored, but still, it was bad baseball.

And then there was the bad baseball by the Mets in the bottom of the fifth. After jumping all over the Rockies in the top half to take a four-run lead, it was obliterated by four errors, three walks, a hit batter, two three-run homers, and eleven runs allowed.

While we’re on the subject of that fateful fifth, Manny Acosta was (and continues to be) awful. I’d like to believe he was affected by the thin air, and perhaps also wasn’t expecting to be in the game so early. Maybe I’ve said this before, but Acosta reminds me a bit of Jorge Sosa — a guy who can throw bullets, has a swing-and-miss slider, but can’t put it together for various reasons.

I really hope Mike Nickeas continues to hit as well as he did on this evening, because I truly like watching him catch. In particular, I like the way he often sets up behind the plate with no runners on, with a flat back at a 90-degree angle to the ground, feet wide, knees down, glove close to the body — it’s exactly the stance I teach to my catching students, and pitchers love it. Kiddies, that last point is crucial: you want to be the catcher that all the pitchers want to throw to, and providing a target they like puts you at least halfway toward that end.

On the other hand, I really don’t like watching Lucas Duda in right field. He’s not killing the Mets out there, and I believe he’ll eventually hit enough to make up for it, but that doesn’t mean I have to like seeing him attempt to play defense. Though he was not charged with any errors, he misplayed two drives early in the game that turned into triples. Further, although he has a fairly strong arm, he’s very deliberate in getting to the ball, taking it out of his glove, and making a throw — it’s as if he’s consciously trying to take his time to make sure he properly executes all three steps (and he very well might be).

Speaking of Duda, he was given first base when the ball hit him in the fourth inning. The SNY crew was too busy interviewing Turk Wendell to comment, but to me it looked like Duda was in the midst of a check swing, and I found it curious that the umpire gave him the base when he made no effort to get out of the way. It’s a picky thing, and I know Duda didn’t intentionally try to get hit, but per rule 6.08(b):

6.08 The batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put
out (provided he advances to and touches first base) when—
(b) He is touched by a pitched ball which he is not attempting to hit unless (1) The ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, or (2) The batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball;

Duda was half-attempting to hit and he did not make an attempt to avoid being “touched” by the ball. However, umpires at all levels almost always award first base when a batter is hit by the ball, regardless of how it happens — maybe because there’s less chance of an argument than if he calls the ball dead and keeps the batter at the plate.

Interestingly, later in the game — in that fateful fifth — Jonathan Herrera was hit by a pitch while attempting to bunt. Herrera definitely pulled back the bat and tried to get out of the way of the pitch, and was also awarded first, but Terry Collins came out to argue. I think Collins might have been arguing more to get Miguel Batista more time to warm up than to argue the call.

Some days, Daniel Murphy looks like Rod Carew or Pete Rose — an uber contact hitter who can win a batting title. On other days, he looks awful, with a slow bat compounded by poor guessing. On this evening it was the latter — he was flailing and waving at pitches all night, looking completely fooled. I wonder if it had anything to do with difficulty in adjusting to the thin air — an issue that everyone handles differently.

You know you’re old when the son of someone you played against is in MLB. I played against Eric Young in college, before he was known as Eric Young, Sr. That makes me about as old as dirt, doesn’t it? On the other hand, Jamie Moyer is almost a decade older than I, and he’s in MLB, too.

On the bright side, Scott Hairston hit for the cycle, joining Mets legends such as Mike Phillips, Eric Valent, Alex Ochoa, and Jim Hickman (among others). Hairston needed only six innings to do it. What a weird game.

Also on the bright side, Zach Lutz made his MLB debut and collected his first MLB hit. If nothing else, it will be a memorable evening for him — though maybe one that’s bittersweet.

Little-known fact: Ramon Hernandez is the all-time leader among Venezuelan catchers with 7 grand slams. Whatever.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Rockies do it again on Saturday night at 8:10 p.m. Dillon Gee goes to the mile-high hill against Jeremy Guthrie Guillermo Moscoso.

Mets 2012 Games

About the Author

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.

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