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.