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

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. mic May 12, 2012 at 3:40 am
    Thanks Joe:

    Everyday I read your posts…in fact for the past 6 years? I dont think anyone has brought the same recipe to the table as you. Keep it up.

    - Ike: He’s producing!! He will adjust. and a HR or two will get his confidence back. BUT HIS GLOVE is imperative. Keep a check on what happens to this infield in his absences.

    - I am more concerned with Johan. I hope he does not overexert to early. Personally I think he is a huge core of this team. Just as DW is cementing himself..so too is Johan. He is a legit ace. When he GETS healthy (right now i say he is ~70%), he will really dominate.

    -Francisco: We knew this Joe. Ramirez , Carrasco et al warrant the microscope. With Josh Edgin, Frankie Cabrera and Egbert doing well I think we should see a refreshed BP eventually.

    - hurry back Tejada.

    • Joe Janish May 12, 2012 at 3:27 pm
      Mic, thanks for your loyalty and your kind words. You are one of the “original” MetsTodayers – a Jay Hook or Rod Kanehl!

      I’m also concerned about Johan, though not necessarily in regard to over-extertion. My concern is that he has not changed the mechanics that destroyed his shoulder in the first place, and fear that he’s further causing damage both to his shoulder and his elbow.

  2. David May 12, 2012 at 10:31 am
    Just discovered this blog — very useful and well-written. Thanks for your considerable research and analysis.

    As to Francisco, it’s statistically correct that he’s blown 20% of his chances, but I think his numbers are far worse; His opening series with the Marlins was anomalous. Since that series, he’s blown 2 of 7 chances, and hasn’t looked great in a couple of his saves. If this is closer (so to speak) to the performance the Mets will see over the course of the season, it’s the difference between a respectable finish — say, 85 wins — and the 75-78 wins I continue to predict for them.

    • Joe Janish May 12, 2012 at 3:30 pm
      David, thank you, I’m glad you enjoy my perspective. I look forward to seeing more comments from you going forward, since this site really is all about the conversation rather than my hot air.

      Agreed on Frank Frank. I haven’t had time to really look closely at his recent stats so I appreciate your sharing them here. It “felt” like he was pitching poorly and I guess the numbers back up that feeling. My thought is that if he continues to struggle, Jon Rauch and/or Bobby Parnell will be getting chances in the 9th inning.

      Didn’t Rauch replace Francisco as the closer in Toronto last year? Is it deja vu all over again?

  3. jerseymet May 12, 2012 at 11:25 am
    Joe I too am feeling the love for Metts Today. Your focus on explaining how to play baseball, is a refreshing, in this age of viewing baseball through algebra.

    Francisco so reminds me of Benitez. I would love to see the Mets move him and his contract. I would love to See Dickey used as our closer. The Zen master could cast his spell three times a week @ 3 innings each. Johan, Gee and Niese would start getting wins.

    • Joe Janish May 12, 2012 at 9:10 pm
      jerseymet, thanks for piling on!

      You are not alone in your Frank Frank comp; I saw at least a dozen similar comments last night on twitter.

      Though, I have to say I was always very confident in Armando back in the day — UNTIL the postseason.

  4. Pedro Costa May 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm
    I already said here my love for R.A. I really think he will deliver our first no-hitter. Ands you know what? I think it will be today!
    • Joe Janish May 12, 2012 at 3:31 pm
      It didn’t happen today but I share your optimism! Agreed, I think RA has the stuff to throw a no-no one of these days.
  5. Joe May 12, 2012 at 4:47 pm
    With closers hurt and Heath Bell struggling etc., well, you have to be philosophical. Like, you win some, you lose some. Easier to say this after they win on Saturday, but that’s how it will be. And, the closer got ‘help’ here.