Mets Game 39: Loss to Blue Jays
Blue Jays 14 Mets 5
Jonathon Niese and the New York Mets were given a very rude introduction to baseball as it’s played in the AL Beast.
Mets Game Notes
On the bright side — if you can call it that — you can’t blame this game on the bullpen.
There’s no way around it: Jonathan Niese was pummeled. Are the Blue Jays hitters that good? Is Niese that bad? Was it a combination of another bad night for Niese and a great night for Toronto? Did it have something to do with the metric system or feeling the weather in Celsius?
Niese’s line looked like this: 3 IP, 8 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 4 HR, 77 pitches (44 strikes). If we want to stay positive, we can focus on the strikeouts and say he struck out 18 batters per nine innings. Unfortunately there are all of those other ugly numbers.
Why was Niese hit so hard? Pretty simple: his fastball and cutter were more or less the same speed, were flat, and fairly indiscernible. And Niese continues the same habit we’ve been talking about here for the past three years — when he throws the cutter too often, Niese’s arm angle drops, his fingers slip to the side of the ball, and as a result everything flattens out and he can’t get the proper angle and release point on his curveball, so that becomes a hanger that screams “hit me!” Unlike the last three years, someone else finally recognized the same thing — Bobby Ojeda, who discussed it during the postgame.
Another thing Ojeda brought up that I agree with: Niese should have pulled a Junior Senior and made a batter or two “move his feet” after that first inning. What that means is pounding a few fastballs a few inches inside, to make sure batters understand that they can’t get too comfortable in the box. But Niese never once threw a pitch inside, and as a result the Jays sat back and launched — they were so loose they looked like they were taking batting practice.
Niese had a look of fear on his face from the first frame. I wonder if he’s dealing with some kind of a physical issue, or if he simply didn’t feel good about his stuff.
It looked to me like Niese was slowing down his motion just a bit when he threw his curveball. If that was seen by the Blue Jays, it might explain at least a tiny bit of his shellacking. But, he threw so few deuces I doubt it made that much of a difference. Bottom line is that he was leaving flat, fat pitches over the middle of the plate.
I do wonder if the Blue Jays knew what was coming, either due to Niese tipping pitches or by some other way, for two reasons. First, they were waaaaaay too comfortable at the plate, as mentioned previously. The second clue came in the second inning when Jose Bautista — of all people — stole third base on a curveball in the dirt. Somewhat fishy to see the not-really-quick Bautista taking off for third with two out. If he knew a curve was going to be thrown, then he knew he had a good chance to make it; he didn’t get a great jump, and if Niese had thrown a fastball there, Bautista likely would have been thrown out. Clue number three was seeing Rajai Davis (again, of all people) swinging from his heels in every at-bat, and blasting two homers. Something to think about.
Meantime, as well as the Jays were pounding Niese, the Mets were contrastingly stymied by Ricky Romero. Romero wasn’t doing anything tricky — he pretty much just pounded the strike zone with fastballs. He had good rhythm and tempo, which is usually easy to have when you have a big lead. Though his main weapon was the fastball, he spotted it at all four corners of the strike zone effectively and with decent “run.” Nothing special, nothing tricky — just bam, bam, bam, up, down, in, out.
J.P. Arancibia’s first homerun traveled about 450 feet / 137 meters / 83 Altuves / .25 CN Towers.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a rough night. Strange thing I observed: he was chasing balls chest-high and above, and letting low strikes go right by. From what I’ve seen of him thus far, it appears as though Kirk is a “low ball hitter” — so why was this happening? I’m going to chalk it up to a bad night but will be keeping an eye on him.
On the bright side, Scott Hairston hit a homer and a double, driving in three runs. That’s what Hairston does — when he hits, he hits the ball far.
Also on the bright side was the performance of new bullpen addition Rob Johnson, who spun a perfect eighth. It would have been really impressive if he pulled a Bugs Bunny and both pitched and caught simultaneously, but I guess by the eighth inning he was too tired to pull that off. Maybe next time.
Johnson actually looked pretty good; he threw a nice, sinking, 87-MPH fastball that ran on the inside edge of the plate and mixed in a lollipop curve. Better than anything I saw of D.J. Carrasco over the past two years. Johnson induced two quick popups and struck out
Nearly as impressive was the MLB debut of Robert Carson, who walked one in a 21-pitch, 10-strike, scoreless seventh. No doubt he had some jitters so we won’t judge him just yet.
Interestingly, the Blue Jays walked eight Mets. Usually when you see that high a number, the team that issued the walks loses the game.