Mets Game 57: Loss to Nationals

Nationals 5 Mets 3

It took one day to go from first to fourth.

Mets Game Notes

You can’t be too upset with Jeremy Hefner‘s performance. The initial inning was shaky as he allowed a three-run homer to Adam LaRoche, but he settled down afterward and allowed only one other run through the next five innings. Not a tremendous outing, but about the best you can expect from a fill-in fifth starter.

Two errors were charged to Daniel Murphy, but he mishandled at least two other balls and looked unsure of himself in the field. People like to downplay his poor fielding but if his offense doesn’t improve significantly, the trade-off isn’t worthwhile over the long haul — more games will be lost due to his glove than won due to his bat. And it’s difficult to measure just how much his miscues affect the final score, because it goes beyond the direct result of an error; you have to take into consideration the extra outs given away, the extra pitches thrown by Mets pitchers, the advance of the opposing lineup toward their better hitters, how the situation changes, and many other immeasurable factors. It’s not as simple as, “well, only one run scored as a result,” or “it didn’t matter since no runs scored that inning.”

Similarly, you have to wonder how much longer the Nationals can afford to continue the Ian Desmond experiment at shortstop. Desmond hits with more power than Murphy, but the rest of his offensive game doesn’t compare, and like Murphy, I’m not sure his hitting makes up for the volume of mistakes in the field.

The way Murphy goes after ground balls reminds me of the “pursuit drill” we used to do in high school football practice; a fast guy would run down a sideline and we had to chase him down, taking the best angle possible. Ron Darling termed it “side saddling” and that’s a good descriptor; what Murphy is doing is playing the ball to the side rather than in front of his body. The only second baseman I ever saw get away with that successfully was Manny Trillo; but even Trillo got in front of the ball most of the time.
Ike Davis finally showed a sign of hope, driving a fly ball to left field for a double to lead off the seventh. He also drew two walks, but to me neither of those at-bats were particularly impressive. He looked defensive at the plate, maybe even ambivalent, as though he was hoping to draw a walk. Other than in that seventh-inning at-bat, he waved the bat more than swung it; he didn’t swing with much authority. I hope this double changes his mindset, because based on his body language, he appears to be defeated.

Come to think of it, Murphy is looking similarly at the plate — lots of waving and resignation.

So strange to see Tim Byrdak enter a game at the beginning of an inning, rather in the middle of a rally with men on bases and the opposing team’s best lefty hitter at the plate. Perhaps it was strange to Byrdak as well, since he walked the leadoff batter and allowed a bloop single to create a National threat. After inducing Ryan Zimmerman to pop out — on a play in which Steve Lombardozzi tagged up from second to third — the Mets set up for an appeal play, believing Lombardozzi left second base too early. However, Byrdak threw a pitch rather than stepping off the mound and throwing to second base, where Omar Quintanilla was standing. Now, you can say that Byrdak flaked out, but I would have to argue that catcher Josh Thole was just as responsible, if not moreso. Since Byrdak threw a pitch, Thole must have given him a sign and set up a target — it’s not like you’re trying to fool anyone with such a play. When Byrdak peered in for the sign, Thole could have been standing up or down on his knees pointing toward 2B — not giving a sign.

Pinch-hitting Scott Hairston for Kirk Nieuwenhuis to lead off the 8th against lefty Sean Burnett was a move that completely baffled me. I know that Hairston is hitting homers like it’s his job lately, but that doesn’t mean he’s capable of hitting a two-run homer with nobody on base (or am I missing one of those new Bud Selig rules intended to juice up the offense?). I understand that Terry Collins didn’t have faith in Captain Kirk against a LHP, but don’t you want to save that bullet for a situation where there’s a runner on base, and, say, you have a .160 lefthanded hitter at the plate? Or maybe Nieuwenhuis gets on and then you pinch-hit for Andres Torres. I don’t know, it just seemed like a bizarre move. Maybe Collins figured that Burnett would be out of the game when David Wright came to bat, and wanted to make sure Hairston got an at-bat? That’s the only thing that makes sense to me. Even so, I’d have preferred to give Nieuwenhuis a chance over Torres — but that’s me. The way I see it, Torres’ time here is limited, whereas Nieuwenhuis might have a future in Flushing. If you’re not going to expose the kid to tough lefties now, when will you?

Along that line of thinking, it was also curious to see Tyler Clippard in the game in the ninth with so many lefties in the Mets lineup and the Nats so deep with LHPs. Though, I’m betting that the Nats used up all their lefties in the extra-inning game on Tuesday night.

Next Mets Game

The final game of the series is a Thursday afternoon “getaway day” type, beginning at 1:05 p.m. R.A. Dickey takes the hill against Chien-Ming Wang.

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. Walnutz15 June 7, 2012 at 8:22 am
    Good call, Joe.

    RE: The Expected Appeal That Never Happened

    This team makes a lot of mistakes, for those looking to gloss-over them simply because they’re winning. I appreciate their record, as well — but expect things to change very soon.

    Otherwise, just alotta obvious Met-stuff last night:

    – Murphy stinks at 2nd base, which we discuss all the time. Though, he did show he’s probably a skilled soccer player early in the game.

    – Ike Davis actually drove the ball…….to the opposite field, which we’ve discussed him NOT EVEN LOOKING TO DO for the past 6 weeks.

    – Their overall team defense is atrocious.

    I did, however – manage to keep an eye on Fernando Martinez’s Hall of Fame career, now that he’s back at the Big League-level with Houston.

    0-for-5 with 3 more K’s last night.

    9 K’s in his 1st 15 AB’s since returning.

    Just posting since you know legions of whiners would be posting every 5 minutes about him, provided he got off to a hot start.

    • Joe Janish June 7, 2012 at 1:00 pm
      As usual, agreed on all counts. Thanks for sharing!
  2. Izzy June 7, 2012 at 8:39 am
    Interesting questions. Davey in his wrap up answered. He said he has messed with his pen so much due to injuries to his first two closers and the struggles of his third that he didn’t want to continue to mess with Burnett and Cliipard, especially since both have been effective against both lefties and righties. What a novel thought!!! Good pitching beats good hitting… He also said he was happy that Collins had Hairston lead off and he couldn’t tie up the game since Hairston had the best numbers against Burnett.
    • Joe Janish June 7, 2012 at 12:59 pm
      Izzy, I can’t wrap my head around your concept of a pitcher throwing to both lefty and righty batters. Is that even ALLOWED? I’m checking the rulebook …
  3. DaveSchneck June 7, 2012 at 8:44 am
    Mets D is terrible and it is now time for it to be addressed. I like Murph but he is killing the team, he is hitting like Luis Castillo, but at age 27 Luis was also bringing speed and defense. I’d give Valdespin some games in a row to see what he can do, look for play B from there. Also, if Bay hits at all over the next two weeks and Ike doesn’t, Ike needs to go down. Now with 1/3 of the season playaed, it’s unfair to the rest of the players (and fans) to let these guys continue to kill the team. Ike is the worst player in baseball by WAR. That’s just not acceptable.
  4. Walnutz15 June 7, 2012 at 10:52 am
    This is beyond comical.

    – Omar Quintanilla injured finger on diving play. Questionable whether he can hit/play.

    – Omar Quintanilla is day-to-day after injuring his finger on a diving play Wednesday night.

    – Another Mets shortstop goes down. Quintanilla should avoid the 15-day disabled list but may need to rest up for the next couple of games. Jordany Valdespin would fill in.

    Jun 7 – 10:41 AM
    Source: Adam Rubin on Twitter


    Can’t wait to see a DP-combo of Valdespin at SS and Murph at 2B.


    • Joe Janish June 7, 2012 at 12:57 pm
      Where are Angel Berroa and Ramon Martinez when you need them?????
  5. Walnutz15 June 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm
    Turns out, Quintanilla’s playing this afternoon…..but Bay’s the one being scratched with the flu!

    Great job rushing that back into the clubhouse and locker room. (smh)

  6. gary s. June 7, 2012 at 1:14 pm
    The curse of Jose Reyes became official when Quintanilla got injured.What is the reocrd for ss’s in one year.Once agiain i have to thank Fred Wilponzi for showing Reyes who is the boss.