Mets Game 32: Loss to Marlins
Marlins 6 Mets 5
For a moment there, it looked like it was going to be another come-from-behind, one-run victory. And it was … except, for the Marlins instead of the Mets.
Mets Game Notes
Johan Santana gave the Mets a strong effort, if you ignore the first frame. Unfortunately, Mark Buehrle was just a bit better. As has been the case lately, it was a battle of the bullpens, and this time, the Mets lost the war.
Ike Davis hit another home run. However, it was again on an off-speed pitch. He was RIGHT ON a hanging curve by Buehrle and demolished it. But here’s the thing: was he right on it because he guessed right, or because he is that good at recognizing and reacting to hanging curves, or because his swing is still timed too late to handle a good fastball? I’m really not sure. Why does it matter? Because if it’s reason #3, then Ike is evolving into a mistake hitter who will eventually get overmatched by pitchers with good fastballs — which means he’ll be an Adam Dunn type of hitter, who blasts homers and takes walks but hits for a low average. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m betting that Ike will eventually get his timing down and return to being at least a .280 hitter with 20-25 HR power.
Mike Baxter seems to reach base every single time he pinch-hits; I think his batting average as a PHer is actually above 1.000. OK, not really, but it is ridiculous how many times he’s come through in the PH role so far this year. He’s like Rusty Staub or Gates Brown.
One thing I haven’t missed in regard to Jose Reyes is his egregious habit of watching the infielder as he runs down the first base line. In this game, it nearly got him skulled, because he was so focused on watching David Wright barehand his slow bouncer that he ran a good six feet inside the line, into the grass, and almost in the line of the throw. Knucklehead! Watching the play only slows you down, and it can’t help you in any way at all. After the batter makes contact, he should focus on the front of the first base bag with blinders on — like a racehorse — and run like heck with nothing else in mind other than hitting the front of that bag as soon as possible. The first base coach is standing there to tell you how the play develops and if you need to round the base instead of running through it. Only one thing makes me more crazy — sliding into first base. And Jose was famous for both. Other than those two “features” of his game, though, I still love watching him.
While we’re on the subject of stupidity, I’d also like to point out Emilio Bonifacio‘s at-bat in the bottom of the seventh. Prior to coming to the plate, Ramon Ramirez through five balls to Gaby Sanchez — one of which was called a strike. Ramirez threw a sixth to Bonifacio, who took it for ball one. Then he threw a seventh, but Bonifacio check swinged at the pitch, which was at his ankles. Ramirez followed with an eighth ball — a slider that nearly bounced in the dirt — and Bonifacio offered again with a half-hearted check swing. Instead of being ahead 3-0, Bonifacio was down 1-2, and eventually struck out. It’s unbelievably idiotic at-bats like this that support the idea of putting on the “take” sign, even for MLB hitters who should know better. The Fish might have been in a situation of two runners on base with no outs, rather than a man on first with one out. It’s a little thing, but it made a big difference in the way that inning played out. In this day and age of PEDsless baseball, the little things matter far more than they did in the past. Unfortunately, two decades of PEDsball created a generation of stupid, sloppy ballplayers.
Moving to the subject of smart players, great sequence by Tim Byrdak in his LOOGY confrontation vs. Logan Morrison in the 8th with the tying run on second base and two outs. Morrison worked the count full, first base was open, righthanded-hitting Giancarlo Stanton was on deck, and righthander Jon Rauch was warmed up and ready to come in. The situation screamed “slider to chase away” and it appeared as though that was on Stanton’s mind. Instead, Byrdak threw one of his very-average fastballs up and middle-in, and Stanton swung right through it. Well done, Mr. Byrdak.
Frank Francisco blew his second save of the season. Is that a high number? Well, considering he has 8 saves that means he’s blown 20% of his save opportunities in about 20% of the season. A little math projects 40 saves and 10 blown saves. So yeah, that’s a high number. More concerning, though, is that it “feels” like he could have blown at least two others but somehow skirted those failures. Francisco simply hasn’t been terribly impressive as a closer. Though, at the same time, he’s performed better than at least a few other closers this year, most of whom have already lost their jobs. Bottom line is that Frank Francisco is an average MLB finisher, and we shouldn’t expect him to be anything else.
In Frank-Frank’s defense, two key mistakes in the field led to the Marlins’ scores in the ninth — an error by Ike Davis and a ball poorly played by Kirk Nieuwenhuis in left field that turned into a double by Stanton. Kirk couldn’t cut off the liner and it rolled to the wall. Additionally, Lucas Duda misplayed a ball in the 8th that led to a run. Neither of those outfield misplays were charged as errors, but both were mistakes that turned into runs.
Next Mets Game
The Mets and Marlins do it again at 1:05 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. R.A. Dickey goes to the hill against