Mets Game 34: Loss to Marlins

Marlins 8 Mets 4

For the second time in three days, the Mets make a dramatic comeback in the final inning to take the ballgame, only to lose the ballgame in similarly dramatic fashion.

Mets Game Notes

If you saw this game, chances are you’re not pleased — unless, of course, you’re Giancarlo Stanton’s mom. Skip right down to the comments section and vent your frustration.

Jonathon Niese deserved better. He didn’t have great stuff, but he took the cue from R.A. Dickey‘s most recent outing and found a way to win. Niese had few “clean” innings, but managed to roll the double-play grounder he needed or otherwise wiggle his way out of trouble (a few times with help from the leathermen).

Carlos Zambrano was surprisingly even-keeled and pitched nearly as well as Niese. Apparently that has been his modus operandi thus far this year. As a baseball fan, this pleases me, because Zambrano is one of the few “colorful” ballplayers left in what has become a sanitized game.

Key moment in the Mets’ 9th-inning comeback came when there were men on second and third, two out, and Mike Baxter pinch-hitting. Ozzie Guillen ordered Heath Bell to intentionally walk Baxter, which to me was an awful move — this I felt at the time, not after Justin Turner hit the two-run double. First of all, I HATE giving free passes, and just don’t understand how they make sense. Both old schoolers and modern-day bean counters can tell me until they’re blue in the face that it’s the right move statistically speaking, but I don’t see how that’s possible. Here’s my perspective: even if Ted Williams is up at the plate, he’s going to make an out more than 60% of the time. Most MLBers, in fact, are going to fail more than 70% of the time. So, instead of rolling with the 70% that is to your advantage, you give the batter a free pass? How does that make sense? The argument is further supported when it’s a RH pitcher vs. a LH batter (or vice-versa), as it was in the Bell-Baxter matchup. Seriously? I know Baxter is torching the ball as a PHer but in the grand scheme of things, there’s still a much better chance that he’ll make an out than get a base hit; it’s not like he’s hitting .900. What makes me more insane is that having a base open is an incredible advantage on its own. It gives the pitcher breathing room, and allows him to make mistakes. Instead of an IBB, I’d rather see Bell really bear down on Baxter in that situation, and make him hit a “pitcher’s pitch” to get those runs home. Tell Bell to live on the very edges of the strike zone (all four), and see what happens. Once you put a man on first, that luxury of being super-fine is removed, and the pitcher is forced to pitch toward the middle of the zone once he falls behind on the count. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

While we’re on the subject of that IBB, how about Justin Turner battling Bell yet again and coming through? Statheads can talk all they want about the RBI being a worthless number, but it’s at-bats like that that make me believe — as crazy as I am to do so — that there are at least a few hitters who “know how” to drive in runs.

Another “worthless” stat is wins. And in this particular game, OK, I’m agreeing with the Beaneheads — Heath Bell getting the victory pretty much nullifies a win’s importance. Though, I think wins had significant importance 30+ years ago, when starting pitchers had the most basic goal of finishing what they started.

Ramon Ramirez: not what he was cracked up to be. Am I wrong?

Frank Francisco: see Ramon Ramirez. Am I wrong?

Frank-Frank became unraveled after home plate umpire Todd Tichenor called two very close pitches balls to start John Buck‘s at-bat. They were darned close, and could’ve been called either way. Tichenor chose to call them balls, which set off Francisco, who was visibly upset. Guess what? Once you show an umpire you’re ticked off with his calls, he’s not giving you ANYTHING close. Everything mushroomed from there. After being removed from the game, Francisco approached Tichenor to share some choice words. It was ugly and embarrassing, especially considering it was Mother’s Day and Francisco’s mom was in the stands (he has a home and family in Miami). Is that really how you want to make your mom proud? I don’t think so.

Seriously though, it’s pretty early in the year for Francisco to be losing his sh$%t. My guess is he’ll be losing his closing role soon as well. Considering how the Mets have been overachieving, and the guaranteed $12M Francisco has coming to him, there isn’t much excuse for him to have a meltdown. We thought Frankie Rodriguez had issues? Think again. This man needs mental help.

Manny Acosta walked into a very difficult situation, but didn’t exactly gain any brownie points with me for his effort. His body language and facial expressions showed fear. There are two ways to deal with fear: fight or flight. Acosta fled.

With Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, Hanley Ramirez, and that huge ballpark, you’ve got to think that the Marlins have a shot to set some kind of record for triples by a team.

Next Mets Game

The Mets return home to host the Milwaukee Brewers for a quick two-game series. Game one in Flushing begins at 7:10 p.m. on Monday night. The scheduled pitching matchup is Dillon Gee vs. Zack Greinke.

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 14, 2012 at 12:08 am
    Grateful i wasn’t watching.I saw the giveaway friday nite.What a shame.Does Collins have the leeway or power not to use Francisco and makes his boss (Alderson) look stupid for signing this career mediocrity?
  2. AC Wayne May 14, 2012 at 1:07 am
    The good news is that overall the Mets are playing well and even more importantly, they believe they’re playing good baseball, the bad news is the BP is single-handedly losing games for them…Collins is the president of the Manny Acosta fan club and Sandy Alderson will most likely want FrankFran to succeed as the Mets closer, he’s already got egg on his face from the signing of DJ Carrasco…I don’t know what the Mets should do about their BP problems, I wish I had all the answers, let’s face it, none of the guys they have now in the pen are doing an outstanding job, you could argue Brydak but the guy faces 1.2 batters/APP, the .2 being any batter after one, the bottom line is, when are they going to be held accountable, meaning, when are the Mets going to give someone else a shot? Acosta, it’s time to go!
    • Grandrew May 14, 2012 at 1:33 am
      Sorry, a BP doesn’t “single-handedly” do anything.
  3. David May 14, 2012 at 1:18 am
    The Mets have blown 5 games with leads in the 7th inning or later this year — something that happened 4 times in all of 1969. But in 1969 relief pitchers generally stayed in the game for as long as they were effective; the ball wasn’t automatically handed to Tug McGraw in the 9th. Radical though it may sound, I’d welcome a return to multiple inning relief appearances. And dismiss outright that one player should have “closer” status…especially when that player is Frank Francisco.
    • jerseymet May 14, 2012 at 2:03 pm
      I too would like to see relievers go longer. Using 4 relievers most nights is self destructive. The bullpen gets wornout and inefective. The 13 man staffs seem excessive. It used to be that the bences were much stronger.

      I would love to see Dickey used as a closer. Channel Hoyt Wilhelm. R.A. could close three times a week@ 3plus innings. He would be an MVP.

  4. Izzy May 14, 2012 at 6:33 am
    So the GM has done nothing to help the team win. If he’d have done nothing,they’d be in first. As much as KROD was a jerk and overpaid, he saved games, something Alderson’s guys cannot do. Did he live off someone else’s hard work in Oakland. No, someone’s easy work. He lived off of Canseco convincing his teammates to take roids. What has lord Alderson done to warrant the free ride he is getting?
    • Mike B May 14, 2012 at 12:41 pm
      The only way Sandy was keeping K rod is if he took 17 million out of his wallet and paid him himself.

      What did you expect from Frank Fran, That is about what 6 million gets you. Sometimes its what 12 a year gets you. Look at all the closers around baseball.

  5. DaveSchneck May 14, 2012 at 8:43 am
    I understand your point on Niese, but he needs to pitch beyond the 6th to deserve better in my book. I’m not sure how Zambrano is “colorful” and Frankie Frank is “ugly”. Both of these guys obviously have some anger management issues.
    • David May 14, 2012 at 7:06 pm
      In fairness to Niese, he was removed due to his being the latest Met with the flu, or whatever it is. Otherwise, he goes 7, but pitchers throwing shutout ball should be throwing into the 8th — if not beyond.

      Meanwhile, Collins today says he still has faith in FF’s ability to close games. To which I say: every now and then, a little Steinbrenner craziness would be welcomed.

  6. argonbunnies May 14, 2012 at 2:09 pm
    After Friday’s loss and with the series hanging in the balance, I would have preferred to see Terry manage with a little more urgency. Taking out your starting pitcher, only to send up one of your worst hitters to pinch-hit, is ridiculous. That was a move to get Ike an AB, not a move to win. That’s a clear spot for Baxter; there’s no guarantee you’ll need him in the 9th. With a 4-0 lead, maybe the ‘pen pitches better…

    Speaking of the ‘pen, how did Ramirez and Francisco get the idea to throw nothing but fastballs… to a team that can only hit fastballs? It was just bizarre. And mostly low fastballs too, not taking advantage of Francisco’s power upstairs. Awful, awful pitch selection. Dobbs hit a pitch that was actually located perfectly — because he knew exactly what was coming.

    I’m not sure what it’d take for me to trust Acosta in a big spot, but at the moment Parnell seems to have a little more focus/confidence (though his history in that regard isn’t good). Byrdak seems the best in that department, but I guess Francisco hadn’t yet CLEARLY lost it by Dobbs’ AB. Just how bad is Byrdak against righties?

    • argonbunnies May 14, 2012 at 4:47 pm
      …or maybe Dobbs knew what was coming because Francisco was tipping his pitches, as per ESPN.
  7. Matt May 14, 2012 at 8:55 pm
    Watching Frank Francisco pitch is giving me flashbacks of Armando Benitez. They are nearly identical: both are fat pitchers with the faces resembling a pig’s ass that throw hard but fall apart the second the slightest hint of adversity appears (e.g., adverse close calls by the ump, men on base, the guy in the third row yawning, etc.) and have an uncanny knack for blowing games that the Mets fought so hard to wrestle from the jaws of defeat. I was really hoping I’d never again have to see anything resembling Armando Benitez in a Mets uniform. Dammit all!