Mets Game 24: Loss to Astros

Astros 6 Mets 3

Suddenly this season is looking eerily similar to the four that preceded it: one series, they look like world beaters. The next series, they lose to a last-place team.

Mets Game Notes

J.A. Happ was sharp for most of the six innings he pitched, and had the advantage of pitching with a lead for the entire game. He worked quickly, threw a ton of strikes, had good rhythm, and commanded the ballgame. He also had a sac bunt, a hit, and a run scored; he’s a good athlete, and it’s a shame that half of his game will be pocketed when Houston moves to the Adulterated League next year.

In contrast, Jonathon Niese was not so great. He left after three frames, in which he allowed five runs. The Astros simply pounded him from the first batter of the game on.

I didn’t like Niese’s collection of arm angles in this ballgame. His elbow was often running below his shoulder on his fastball, and he was slowing down his body when throwing the curveball. Whenever a pitcher gets “under” the ball — meaning, the elbow drops below the shoulder level and the fingers tend to be on the side of the ball at release — pitches flatten out and don’t sink, and excessive strain is put on the elbow. Further, because Niese was varying release points and the speed of his delivery depending on the pitch, he was “telegraphing” some of his pitches. I’m convinced that Jed Lowrie knew exactly what was coming when he turned on a Niese fastball in the first and jerked it into the left field stands. Lowrie looked like he was “sitting” on the pitch the entire way in; either he guessed right, or he saw something in Niese’s delivery that gave away the pitch.

Similarly, Chris Snyder looked like he was expecting the pitch that he absolutely crushed in the second inning.

Keith Hernandez kept saying, “that’s just good hitting by … (fill in name of Houston hitter).” Yes, but I also think their success had much to do with the issues addressed above – Niese’s fastball was flat, and he may have been tipping his pitches. Or maybe they were somehow stealing signs?

Ike Davis looks great at the plate, doesn’t he?

Pretty weak-looking lineup by the Mets, no? Justin Turner third? Huh? Why not ensure David Wright gets an at-bat in the initial inning? Hmm …

Though, Turner did provide substantial offense in this ballgame. Great, so now the illogic behind the decision is justified. And again, I have to make clear that Turner has been and remains one of my favorite Mets — I just don’t see him as a three hitter. If he was, he wouldn’t be sitting on the bench most of the time.

In his slightly crouched batting stance, Jose Altuve is about two inches taller than Josh Thole sitting behind home plate. Seriously. Brings back memories of Fred Patek.

Fascinating to see Altuve — the shortest man in baseball — facing the tallest man in baseball, Jon Rauch, in the 8th.

Snyder’s homer went about 74 Altuves far, and 38 Altuves high.

Altuve ran the Astros out of the fourth inning when he was caught stealing with one out and men on the corners. He became the second out, and Lowrie walked moments later. Had Altuve stayed put, Houston would have had the bases loaded and one out. My best guess is that things happened this way due to Miguel Batista‘s voodoo.

It is voodoo, right? Because there is no other explanation for Batista’s ability to survive three innings. It’s kind of like how Elmer Dessens made it through MLB batters a few years back — all smoke, mirrors, and a crapload of luck. Batista regularly allows two baserunners an inning, yet somehow they are erased by bad baserunning, bad umpire calls, or brilliant defense. It’s as if he’s purposely setting up double play practice for the infield.

Lucas Duda pinch-hit for Niese in the top of the fourth, and as in his last pinch-hit appearance, looked like someone with the flu. Perhaps that’s because he has the flu.

Next Mets Game

The final game of the series begins at 2:05 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon. Chris Schwinden goes to the hill against Wandy Rodriguez.

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. norme May 2, 2012 at 8:31 am
    Your first paragraph is the definition of a mediocre team.
    It’s going to be that way for a while.
  2. jerseymet May 2, 2012 at 1:40 pm
    Intentional “double play practice”… LMAO
  3. meticated May 3, 2012 at 8:23 am
    Our team is just what they are….figuring it out as they go…youth inexperience and nervousness….and yet…I am fascinated and intrigued more than the recent past, just to watch the evolutionary process up close, is worth the price of admission
  4. Joe May 3, 2012 at 5:31 pm
    The Astros are hitting — not just vs. the Mets — and they have at least two or three decent starters. The Mets only had two good starters this time and Niese had a bad day.