Mets Game 61: Loss to Yankees
Yankees 5 Bisons 4
For a while there, it looked like the Bisons might hang in there long enough to beat the mighty Yankees. In the end, however, we found out the difference between MLB and AAA.
Mets Game Notes
Like Dillon Gee in the start before him, Jonathon Niese did a great job of preventing the Yankees from crossing the plate, despite allowing the leadoff batter to reach base frequently. Five of the seven innings he pitched began with a Yankee on base, and one way or another, he managed to wiggle out of trouble with no harm done — until the seventh, when a leadoff single by Robinson Cano eventually resulted in a two-run homer by Russell Martin to put the Yankees within one. You have to admire Niese’s ability to work out of jams, but the percentages were against him — you can only allow so many baserunners before a few finally score. Niese had a good curveball working, inducing many swings and misses, and he had good downward movement on his sinker. Frequent visitors of MetsToday likely noticed that Niese’s arm angle was a little more overhand in comparison to those outings when he falls in love with his cutter and everything is flat. Huh.
While Niese worked around leadoff batters reaching base, the same could not be said for Bobby Parnell. Parnell allowed an infield double to Derek Jeter to start the eighth, and by the time the inning ended, Parnell was gone and the Yankees had a one-run lead. OK, it wasn’t really a double — an error was charged to Omar Quintanilla — but it was as close as you’ll ever see to an infield double.
I referred to the Bisons because it was Quintanilla, Vinny Rottino, Mike Nickeas, and Jordany Valdespin who did the bulk of the damage in the Mets’ three-run second inning. Unfortunately, other than Scott Hairston, the MLBers couldn’t figure Pettitte, and so the Mets plated only those three despite sending nine batters to the plate.
Immediately after being handed a 3-0 lead, Niese proceeded to throw six straight balls to start the bottom of the second. Eventually, the Yankees put men on first and second with none out, but Joe Girardi clearly felt sorry for the Mets and directed Nick Swisher to bunt. Bunt? Really? Down three in the second inning, seeing Niese struggling to find the plate, a lineup full of sluggers, and you’re bunting? I nearly fell off my chair. Mind you, I’m an old-schooler who appreciates small ball. But when you have hitters such as the Yankees have, the bunt should be verboten. I realize that Swisher has struggled from the right side, but if he lacks that much confidence against lefties then either he shouldn’t be in the lineup or he should stick to hitting from the left side all the time. By bunting, the Yankees not only gave Niese the gift of an out, but it changed the tone of the game, and shifted the momentum back into the Mets’ lap — it was downright absurd. I’m assuming Swisher didn’t do that on his own, and that Girardi unnecessarily and stupidly forced himself into the equation. Often, it’s best for a manager to let a baseball game develop on its own, rather than forcing things. That was one such situation and it nearly cost the Yankees the ballgame.
I’m sure there are some Mets fans fixated on David Wright‘s throw in the dirt in the seventh that Rottino couldn’t handle, which allowed Andruw Jones to reach base, caused the inning to continue, and led to Russell Martin’s two-run dinger. No doubt many were thinking, “see? we need Ike Davis there, even if he is hitting .160!” If that’s your mindset, remember that Rottino both drove in and scored a run — something Davis had not done in about a month. Mind you, I’m no advocate of having Rottino play 1B regularly. The truth is, he’s not really a first baseman but rather a utilityman who can play passable defense there. But an average MLB first baseman might make that play, AND contribute offensively — something Ike hasn’t been doing. Further, Ike has made his share of errors without adding to the offense.
Speaking of Ike, there is good news: he blasted a double to deep right-center in the ninth to drive in Lucas Duda and tie the ballgame four-all. He was right on Yankee closer Rafael Soriano, with everything in sync. Could this finally be the at-bat that ignites him? Or is it another tease that keeps him out of Buffalo for two more weeks? We’ll soon see.
By the way, Ike was thrown out at third following his double on a slow roller to short. It was an aggressive, risky play by shortstop Jayson Nix, and I think any other Major League player slides in safely. Had Ike been able to beat the tag, the game might’ve turned out differently.