Mets Game 37: Loss to Reds

Reds 6 Mets 3

The question of the night: why was D.J. Carrasco pitching for the Mets in the 8th inning of a one-run game?

Mets Game Notes

The easy answer to that question is, “because Carrasco was ejected the night before, forcing Ramon Ramirez to finish the ballgame.” But that’s not enough for me, because I want to know the thought process behind removing Tim Byrdak — who had thrown exactly one pitch and who has held RH batters to a .214 AVG?

Of course, by the time Carrasco allowed Toms River native Todd Frazier‘s homerun, the Mets were already down by one. But, after the homer, the momentum of the ballgame went all the way to the Reds and took all the air out of the Mets’ balloon. Down by one with six outs left is much different than down by three. Maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me, but when Frazier’s blast disappeared over the centerfield fence, the collective body language of the Mets was one of defeat. And this came one night after manager Terry Collins waved the white flag in the seventh inning of a 8-0 ballgame. Hey, it is what it is.

Strange, also, to see Bobby Parnell get the last out of the 7th, yet not return to start the 8th. Instead, Jon Rauch began the 8th and eventually was handed the loss.

Prior to that fateful 8th inning, this was an intriguing pitchers’ duel between two crafty soft-tossers. By the end of their respective evenings, Johan Santana and Mike Leake had very similar lines. Santana was just a hair better, going an extra two-thirds of an inning over Leake’s six, allowing one less hit to Leake’s seven, and giving up one less run to Leake’s three — and doing it with only two more pitches. Both hurlers relied on batters making poor contact and the execution of their fielders, and it was the Reds defense that led to two unearned runs that made the difference in the linescore.

But, the difference in the final score was yet again in the hands of the bullpens. And yet again, the Mets’ relief corps was not up to the task.

On a positive note, Lucas Duda went 3-for-4. I LOVED seeing him swing on a 3-0 count in the first frame, and hope to see more of that in the future.

Leake is a really good athlete, as witnessed by his baserunning in the third inning. Interesting tidbit: when both were playing for Arizona State, Leake would play 1B when Ike Davis pitched, and vice-versa. Leake is only the tenth person in the history of mankind to go straight to MLB from college — and the first since Xavier Nady.

Speaking of Ike, he hit a double off his former college teammate but is one for his last seventeen. Ouch.

There’s been a ton of buzz about young Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco, and can understand the excitement. He’s incredibly “quiet” behind the plate — in other words, he holds his stance and doesn’t move around very much — and does a great job of receiving pitches. Though, he usually catches the “back” of the ball, he manages to do so as well as is possible, with soft hands and without ridiculous “framing” movements. His setup and target make him a catcher that pitchers love to throw to. Though there were only two opportunities to see him throw to 2B, I liked what I saw of his footwork, exchange, overall quickness, body control, arm strength, and “line of fire” — the straightness of his throw. He’s not blessed with outstanding skills, but he puts everything together with great timing, balance, and control, has little wasted motion, and gets the ball to second base with a straight, true, tight four-seam rotation. Supposedly he has a good stick — which hasn’t yet come out this year — but even if that doesn’t develop as people expect, at the very least he’ll be a solid defensive backstop. I compare him to Brian Schneider at a similar age. Youngsters, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to watch Mesoraco and emulate some of his habits.

Mike Baxter finally got a start, hitting in the two hole, but went “only” one for four. His fate may be similar to that of Gates Brown.

No hits for David Wright, dropping his average to .402. He did get two walks, though, holding his OBP at .497.

In the small detail department, an interesting play by Joey Votto in the fourth inning: he tagged from first base on a fly ball to right field and faked going to second, drawing a throw from Lucas Duda. What that says to me is teams are hearing that Duda is shaky in the field, and it’s possible to force him into a mistake if you put a little pressure on him. The SNY crew didn’t say a peep about the move by Votto, but to me it spoke volumes about both Votto’s savvy and the scouting reports on Duda. Duda — a natural first baseman — is not yet comfortable as an outfielder and other teams know it, and are going to challenge him. It will be interesting to see how he reacts and develops in response.

Had Jay Bruce hit through the ball, and finished his swing high rather than cutting it off by rolling his top hand over immediately after contact and finishing low, his long sac fly would have gone over the fence. Kids: hit through the baseball, and get full extension AFTER hitting the ball to ensure that you are accelerating your hands at the point of contact.

Ryan Ludwick is on the Reds now? He and Austin Kearns are essentially the same person to me. Righthanded hitter who once showed an ability to slug the ball over the fence, and as a result will be given chances time after time. They pick up the mantle from Jason Lane.

Next Mets Game

The final game of the series begins at 1:10 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. The pitching matchup is R.A. Dickey vs. Mat Latos.

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. Dan May 17, 2012 at 6:20 am
    A better question might be “Why is D.J. Carrasco pitching for the Mets at all?.

    Didn’t know about Brown at all until this morning, found an excellent writeup on him at http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/eacd4f5e

    • Joe Janish May 17, 2012 at 9:00 am
      Perhaps your question is more apt. Though, now that Carrasco has been DFA’d it’s a question that no longer will be posed.

      Thanks for sharing the link to the Gates Brown bio, that’s awesome! Supposedly, Brown never got a true, lengthy opportunity to establish himself as a starting player because he was so good as a pinch-hitter. If Baxter’s lackluster starting duties continue to contrast his outstanding pinch-hitting, he may realize a similar fate.

      • Dan May 17, 2012 at 8:30 pm
        I hope Baxter gets enough starts, or at least non PH playing time to show what he can, or can’t do. I’d hate to see him stuck in a limited role without that chance, like Heilman being too valuable in the pen to start, and ultimately wind up on the scrap heap, paying for lack of playing time necessary for talent to develop.
  2. DaveSchneck May 17, 2012 at 8:31 am
    Joe,
    I think we can ofiicially call the pen a disaster up to this point. I like Collins but he was weak last night. I see Carrasco has been DFA’d, which is a no brainer (sorry DJ, nothing personal). The GM needs to get aggressive and have a short leash for the arms in the pen, as they have several candidates in the minors that are worth a look – Carson, Ramirez, and shortly Mejia barring setbacks. Ike had better get his $%^# together or he can work out his issues in Buffalo.
    • Joe Janish May 17, 2012 at 9:01 am
      I don’t know if it’s “official” yet but it certainly is close. If there is any solace it’s that several other teams are having similar woes with their bullpens (i.e., Phillies).
  3. norme May 17, 2012 at 8:41 am
    If Ike’s still not hitting (last night’s double is inconclusive) by the time JBay comes back I think Dave S. is correct. Send him down to Buffalo, move Duda to 1B and let Kirk N. switch to RF.
  4. Izzy May 17, 2012 at 9:08 am
    I think you got it all wrong calling the move to remove Parnell strange. It was pure and simple bad managing, over managing. By taking Parnell out Collins had nobody to go to that he could trust even a little in the event Rauch was off (which of course he was) after the use of Byrdak for that one AB. And of course it was a pitiful move to take Byrdak out. Loss squarely on the manager. Today’s managers must have it in their contract that they have to overmanage their bullpens. And then they whine how tired the pen is.
  5. norme May 17, 2012 at 11:53 am
    I’ve got a question on baseball strategy with regards to the present day Mets.

    I admired the two successful squeeze bunts the Mets pulled off this past week. But, given the questionable bullpen, should they be playing “small ball”, or should they be going for the bigger inning? This is asked in light of the fact that the starting pitching usually is not completing the games and somewhere in and around the 6th/7th innings TC is going to
    this shaky pen.