Mets Game 42: Loss to Pirates

Pirates 5 Mets 4

When you score four runs early against the Pirates, the game is pretty much in the bag. After all, the Bucs are averaging under three runs scored per game, and “The Lumber Company” is specializing in balsa wood toothpicks these days.

But, there’s one way that poor offensive clubs score runs: when they are given more than three outs in an inning.

Mets Game Notes

The Mets had this game won, but unfortunately, there’s a rule in MLB that stipulates your starting nine play the field. The Mets made three errors, and the third turned out to be the game-changer.

In this game, against this woeful offensive team, Johan Santana performance could be described as “good,” or at least, decent. But I bet Johan would be the first one to tell you that he pitched poorly.

Johan’s command on all pitches was inconsistent, and in particular, his location on his fastball was usually too high. But he had the benefit of facing a pitcher and three men who would barely qualify as adequate AAA hitters. Those who should have hit him — Jose Tabata, Andrew McCutchen, and Pedro Alvarez — did, and the two who had a modicum of possibility of doing so (Neil Walker, Casey McGehee), didn’t.

McGehee, by the way, appears very different from his career year with the Brewers. He looks tight and tense in his batting stance; I remember him being a little loosey-goosey and relaxed at the plate. Now, he’s squeezing the bat handle as if he’s trying to turn it to sawdust.

Good clue that the Pirates are terrible hitters? Santana had thrown only 76 pitches entering the sixth inning. That’s 13 pitches per inning, which is ridiculously low.

I see truly awful hitters like this and wonder how Vladimir Guerrero, Johnny Damon, J.D. Drew, and Edgar Renteria were unemployed on Opening Day. Heck, if I’m the Pirates I’d have considered Livan Hernandez and Jason Jennings for their bats rather than their arms. Similarly, Jason Marquis has been cut loose, and he can hit better than half of the Bucs starting lineup.

The fact that Erik Bedard has a job in MLB reinforces my faith that baseball GMs are idiots. My wife is a National League fan, so she had never seen Bedard before, and asked me who he was. Describing him was an interesting and somewhat enlightening exercise, because when it comes right down to it, Bedard is not much more than an eternal enigma — or is it, an eternal tease? Bedard has always been a guy with “filthy stuff” who — other than one 40-game stretch from 2008 to 2009 — has never been healthy enough to come anywhere close to fulfilling his potential. Yet, because of that brief flash of dominance, teams will give him one opportunity after another, truly believing that there is a chance they’ll catch lightning in a bottle. See: Oliver Perez, Rich Harden, Mark Prior, etc., etc. It’s fascinating, isn’t it? A guy can be physically only a shred of what he was (and I mean that both figuratively and literally), but because he had success once, there will always be someone, somewhere, willing to believe it can happen again. History trumps logic.

Logic exercise: David Wright is to Mets as Andrew McCutchen is to Pirates.

What the HECK was Neil Walker doing bunting in the fourth inning with a man on second, no outs, and down by 2? Has anyone informed him that he is one of only four players in the entire lineup who qualify as MLB hitters — and the other three had already hit? Walker is one of my favorite young players in baseball, but man, that was a truly knucklehead move.

In contrast, Clint Barmes appeared to be the only Buc actively looking change-up first against Johan — though it didn’t help him. He had the right approach, but couldn’t execute.

By the way, when Johan walked Barmes in the fourth, it was only the second time all season that Barmes drew a walk. Wow.

The Pirates had a big opportunity to break open the game in the fourth inning, when they scored two runs and then loaded the bases with one out. The rally was killed by the aforementioned numnut bunt by Walker and, later, a routine double-play grounder. Lightning doesn’t strike twice in Pittsburgh.

In the 8th, with the score tied, none out, Kirk Nieuwenhuis on first, and big Jared Hughes on the mound, Terry Collins called on Ronny Cedeno to bunt. Baffling decision, considering that a) Cedeno was swinging the bat well all evening and b) Hughes was slow and lumbering to the plate, suggesting that Kirk would have been able to steal second base fairly easily. Thanks to a groundout by Cedeno followed by a wild pitch, Kirk found his way to 3B with one out, but still, the process was flawed.

Also baffling to see Mike Nickeas hitting with the game on the line in the 8th and Daniel Murphy sitting on the bench. If it was because Rob Johnson was unavailable to catch multiple innings, then why was Vinny Rottino removed from the game?

During the postgame press conference, Collins explained that Rottino was not very experienced at first base, and that’s why Davis replaced him there and moved Rottino to left field. For the record, Rottino has played 164 games at 1B in the minors, recording over 1250 chances at the position. Just sayin’.

Though, it can be argued that Rottino may not have reached base as Kirk had in his place.

I just noticed that Andres Torres has an OBP of around .340 despite a batting average below .200. That’s quite a feat.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Pirates play again on Tuesday evening at 7:05 p.m. in Pittsburgh. R.A. Dickey faces James McDonald.

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 21, 2012 at 11:08 pm
    Davis 0-2, the worst that can happen now is for him to get a few cheap hits and avoid Buffalo without really solving his problems. Hurts him, and the team.
  2. Pedro Costa May 21, 2012 at 11:16 pm
    Interesting to read you say about the AAA hitters from the Pirates, but nothing about the AA hitters from the Mets. Torres is hitless in his lasts 14 at-bats, and 2-for-38. He’s now under .200. And TC thinks hes the leadoff. Somehow he’s not the worst pumpkin in our lineup. There’s a certain 1B who’s the worst hitter in the majors. And I won’t talk about the catcher, Duda + his poor defense, and Capt. Strikeout and his regression.

    In April, we had a strong starting pitching. Now we have Zohan, R.A., and that’s it. Jon Niese’s ERA is 6.38 in the last 30 days, while Dilon Gee’s is 6.27. I’m not gonna start to talk about the bullpen, just that I don’t understand, since last weekend we had to put a catcher to pitch, why the manager put a pitcher to face one single batter every game.

    There’s a reason why so many people said this team would be the last place in the division. The season is starting to show us our reality. No one can pretend to be that good for an entire season. This is what the Mets was supposed to be, unforntunely. Bad pitching, bad plate discipline, bad fielding.

    One last thing. We already lost Jose. And if I’m David, I wouldn’t sign an extension this summer. It doesn’t make any sense for him. The Mets haven’t made the playoffs for six years, and counting. And even having some good players for the near future, I don’t see the Mets making the playoffs the next year too. Who will put us there? Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Jason Bay? Sorry folks, not gonna happen. This offseason the Wilpons will have to spend a lot of cash to build a team that give David something he can rely on.

    But there are Mets’ fans who are more interested in seeing the Yankees losing than the Mets winning.

  3. DaveSchneck May 22, 2012 at 9:00 am
    Nickeas cannot hit in that spot, plain and simple. Sloppy game all around. Ike didn’t start and still whiffed twice, including the last out when all the closer was throwing was fastballs. Ouch.
  4. Izzy May 22, 2012 at 9:31 am
    The guys you are wondering about not having a job. Maybe its because their body’s are all worn out and all they can do is be DHs anymore. As for the criticizing of the Pirates offense, it is not any different than the Mets’ offense. The Mets offense is horrid, and when Collins has his days off for Murphy or Wright its as bad as any around. And the Met defense is horrid. And the Met pen is horrid. At least the Bucs have a pen.
  5. Mic May 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm
    Joe: U only touched on the nail as I see it.
    This I hHANG on TC and his post game verbage Needs to be on a rotating bilboard.

    1. Danny Murphy bats in the 8th…POINT BLANK. An idiot comment about running out of players in a tied game was weak!! As for cant pinch hit for everyone’….U can for Nicheas and Torres…

    2. The line-up, batting order and game strategy sucked.
    Dave Wright should have just picked the line up, and gave TC the night off.

    3. Santana: Did nt he just have surgery? Coming out for the 7th was danger PERIOD. Dont want a season out of him? Santana was all over the place in the 6th and 7th, even before he was 80 pitches. When a .180 hitting catcher catches up to an inside FB I think someone has told u something.

    4. What is with the Torres lovefest? A career .200 hitting OFer surplants the up and coming cult hero CPT Kirk who was doing quite well…and is the CPT getting a chance to take his spot back? As it is the BEST OF right now is probably Kirk in CF or LF, Baxter and Duda. Torres is, was and should be a 4th OFer . Baxter, Kirk and Duda should be getting/and have EARNED the PT. By the end of the year Jordanny, DenDekker and Cory Vaughn could be knocking on the door too. JBay is too expensive to cut, but his defense, bat and hustle will/should make The Torres issue elementary.

    Sorry Terry …man up and take this one on the chin!

  6. Crozier May 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm
    No surprise Torres has a decent OBP; the entire club does. Collins has preached taking pitches and getting on base. How could that be a bad thing? And sure enough, they’re ranked 6th in OBP — and 23rd in total bases. Duda is now a singles hitter, Murphy has zero homers. Small ball is fine when your pitching staff is decent, but this is a club in serious need of a 3-run homer strategy (see: Earl Weaver). Unless they up their slugging, a 75-win season is in store. And if Murphy isn’t going to hit for power, shouldn’t he and his .320 be batting second? Wright could plate him with a single or double (home runs being out of the question).
  7. JoeD1966 May 23, 2012 at 1:14 am
    It’s only a bad thing when the team continues to take pitches right down the middle. The power numbers will go up when they get a little more aggressive on pitches down the heart of the plate. The on base philosophy is great but the execution is horrible. They take too many fat fastballs trying to work out walks. That’s not the idea of plate discipline. It’s supposed to be lay off the junk out of the zone and crush the stuff in the zone.