Mets Game 31: Win Over Phillies

Mets 10 Phillies 5

If someone told you two months ago that the Mets would sweep the Phillies in Philadelphia to push them even deeper in the NL East cellar, would you have believed it?

Mets Game Notes

Following the first two games, this contest became a battle of the bullpens, and again it was the Mets relievers who won the war.

Cliff Lee wasn’t his sharpest, but it was his first start in about a month, and with that in mind he pitched fairly well through was was predetermined to be a limited outing. Considering the ineptitude of the Philly bullpen, my bet is that Charlie Manuel was hoping that Lee could find a way to squeeze nine innings out of 80 pitches, but it wasn’t going to happen.

Meantime, Dillon Gee wasn’t spectacular, but he was strong through the first five and finished up 5 2/3 frames well enough to keep the team in the game. With Gee, it’s all about perspective and expectations. If you expect him to be a #3 starter, then this outing was less than acceptable. But if you’re like me and expect him to fill out the back end of a rotation, then he did just fine. Any team in MLB would be very pleased to get this kind of effort against the Phillies from a fifth starter.

The Mets scored ten runs and had five players enjoy a multiple-hit game. But who was the only man to collect as many as three hits on the evening? Freddy Galvis.

This series has not given me a clear idea on how the Mets will perform going forward, because it seemed to me like their wins had as much or more to do with the Phillies playing poorly rather than the Mets playing well. Not that the Mets didn’t play well — they did, they just weren’t playing especially well. In other words, this sweep said more about where the Phillies are at this point in time than it did about where the Mets are going. From my perspective, the Phillies made several key mistakes and missed key opportunities that allowed the Mets to stay in games and go ahead. Yet, the Mets made plenty of mistakes themselves — they just made less. This series was exciting in terms of being close and come-from-behind rallies, but it was less than crisp baseball being played on both sides. The Phillies put out a AAA lineup, they made several errors, compounded by mental mistakes and really, really bad relief pitching. The positive to take away is again, that the Mets made less mistakes.

Clear example of how drastically different things are in Philly was the fans’ mass exodus after Ike Davis‘ homerun in the 8th. Phillies fans just didn’t leave in the past, knowing that their team was capable of dramatic come-from-behind finishes. Those cardiac kids are long gone.

Wow does the Philadelphia bullpen stink! Charlie Manuel must be going through two packs of Rolaids per night.

Ike Davis walloped a crucial double in the seventh to set up the Mets’ go-ahead runs, and then put the game away with a homer in the 8th. However, on both of those pitches he was slightly fooled — he was looking fastball and got something with a bit less velocity, and he hit both balls while lunging forward, but the momentum was just right as he made contact. Some players have made a living out of doing just that — but none hit much higher than .250. From what I see, Davis is still struggling — or at least, not hitting at a level we believe he’s capable of — and as mentioned here earlier, it’s all about his timing. Keith Hernandez briefly analyzed Ike’s swing and came to the conclusion that he’s starting his swing too early, and focused on Ike’s front shoulder flying open. I have to disagree with Keith’s analysis. What I see is the exact opposite problem: Ike is starting his swing too LATE. The front shoulder flying open is a symptom of Ike waiting a hair too long to get stride foot going and his hands into the launch position; because he’s behind on the pitch, he has to catch up by rushing his hands forward and pulling his front shoulder out. The giveaway to his issue can be seen clearly by watching his front foot; it should be landing on the ground by the time the pitcher releases the ball (if not a few milliseconds sooner). Instead, his foot is still moving forward — and not yet planted — as the ball is halfway to home plate. The hands can’t get to a powerful launch position until the foot lands, and by the time that magical moment in the swing happens for Ike, he’s already past the point of pitch recognition — the stage that has to happen a split-second before the swing begins, which should seem obvious (you can’t swing at the ball until you know where the ball is). So what’s the solution? Ike needs to get that stride started sooner. The rule of thumb I teach my baseball students — which I learned from Don Mattingly — is, “when the pitcher goes back, you go back.” In other words, when the pitcher’s leg lift reaches its apex and the hips do their little turn toward second base, the hitter should start his stride and “load” the hands back. Now, Ike might need to start even sooner, because he has a longer stride than most and that hitch, both of which take time to process. He’ll figure it out, eventually — his timing problem right now is very similar to that of Carlos Delgado back in 2008. It took Delgado until mid-June of that year to start figuring things out; let’s hope Ike gets it going before then — maybe his two extra-base hits in this game are a sign of breaking out.

There were many positive take-aways from this game for the Mets. The one negative was D.J. Carrasco, who is now back to being mostly a non-submarine pitcher and still looks less than adequate.

Next Mets Game

The Mets get a well-deserved day off as they travel down to Miami to start a weekend set with the Marlins. Game one begins at 7:10 p.m. and pits lefties Johan Santana and Mark Buehrle.

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. Gary S. May 9, 2012 at 10:44 pm
    I agree with you Joe.Three enjoyable wins but the Phillies are horrible right now(boo hoo!!)Good stuff about Ike and his troubles .Nice shot off the upper deck with two on.Hoping it gets him going.I thought Collins was nuts to move Kirk out of cf for Torres.I was soooo wrong.Torres has been terrific in cf and has added much needed speed to the top of lineup.If he can hit .270 he will be a big asset.Miami and Mets red hot.Should be a tough series.
  2. Joe May 9, 2012 at 11:00 pm
    Torres has been good. Carrasco not, but he was cheap, and people a lot more expensive (and with a more important role) have turned out badly too. So, eh.

    Sure, the Phils are struggling, but the Mets are playing tough, down to Batista not dogging it while running to 1st on a sacrifice (which pitchers seem to be laying down), and it’s appreciated. And, the NL is fill with mediocrity, including teams that have bad stretches.

    So, I’ll take it. Look at the Astros. Bad team, but actually showed some life. Two games under .500.

    • HobieLandrith May 9, 2012 at 11:31 pm
      Mets are not playing tough. Like Joe said, they’re just making fewer mistakes. That’s not tough, it’s lucky to be playing someone in worse shape. I’ve seen better baseball played at the high school level.

      As for Batista hustling, he has little choice – it’s desperation. The guy is a breath away from his career ending. He BETTER be hustling and doing every little thing he can to remain employed as a baseball player.

      Hey, maybe that’s Sandy Alderson’s strategy: get a bunch of guys who are barely MLBers, because if nothing else, they’ll give max effort.

      • Joe May 9, 2012 at 11:48 pm
        Lol. Whine whine whine.
  3. DaveSchneck May 10, 2012 at 8:31 am
    Good post, agree on all points. I agree that Mets are still making a lot of mistakes, but getting wins is what it is all about, and they have 18 out of 31. This gives them a chance to cut down on the mistakes and still have games that mean something, From my limited viewing, it looks like all MLB teams make too many mistakes, but it is what it is. After 20% of the season, the Mets have swept the Brave, Marlins, and Phillies, despite losing a starting pitcher, two starting OF, and now a starting SS and C. Not too shabby. If they can keep this up for another month they will have some more pitching available, as Mejia is not far away and if Young (I know, a big if) can stay healthy, adding those two guys could offset some weaknesses, and Mr. Carrasco will be out and Batista returned to long man status.
  4. Glenn May 10, 2012 at 10:40 am
    Unless your name is the Texas Rangers, every team has its flaws. The Phillies have no pen and little offense, the Nats no offense, the Braves starters don’t go deep into games, and the Fish aren’t hitting either.

    The Mets are flawed, but they are young and the farm system that everyone said was barren has produced.

    All Spring long while everyone (even Joe) said that it would be better if this team went out and shot themselves, the Mets to a man kept saying they were better than people think. They were right.

    The NL East will be won in the GM’s office. Who can find that hot prospect or make that trade to push the team over the top. This team plays hard, this team has talent with more on the way. There’s no reason they can’t make the playoffs, especially with 2 wild cards out there.

    • Joe May 10, 2012 at 11:24 am
      A bit too soon to talk about “playoffs.” The team was criticized around here for their efforts last year when in fact they were pretty impressive 2/3 of the year. Some here did think they could show some life. The Phils ineptitude is a tad surprising. The NL overall is middling with a few elite teams. There is little reason the Mets can’t win any given day. They can be a longshot for one of the WCs, but let’s see if they can survive the dogs of summer this time first.
  5. John S. May 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm
    I like the direction this team is taking. For the first time in a while I am seeing management holding players accountable for their performance. Justin Turner pinch hitting for Ike Davis last week said volumes. At the same time TC is handling the young players well, like letting Duda sit against some lefthanders using his recent illness as an excuse and allowing him to gain some confidence in situations where he can be successful.
    And I am a big fan of the youth movement. Look at the Phillies to see what happens when the roster gets old. I think that they will see what the Met fans have known these last few years: when things aren’t going well veterans begin to lose interest. They have made their money and have developed lots of interests outside the game. Once things head south many lose their desire, at least in the short run.
    Having said that, the season is still very young and the young guys still have to show they can maintain there focus and make adjustments that will surely be needed over the season.
    Kirk still strikes out way too much, Duda has a tendency to go into funks (and strikes out too much also), Tejada has to prove he can handle the season’s grind. And depth is a problem.
    On the positive side, I don’t see this management group rushing Harvey or Familgia (or anyone else for that matter) to meet a short term need when they are clearly not ready. This was a major flaw of previous management, either rushing the guys up and damaging their development or trading them away for a veteran who is clearly over the hill.
    For those who don’t remember the 80s teams we are sitting at about 1984, probably not quite ready to win but you begin to see the possibilities as these guys gain experience and some of the wholes get filled in. And even though the Cardinals won in 84 and 85 they were still great seasons right up to the end.
  6. argonbunnies May 10, 2012 at 4:27 pm
    Joe, completely agreed on Ike. He’s rushing because he’s not ready in time.

    Duda’s had a little bit of that too, which is which his Delgado-like double foot tap worries me.

    Why don’t hitters just set up loaded and get rid of all this complicated timing crap? It’s seemed to work for Pujols.